A contact center represents the culture of your company and its employees, products and reputation. It is therefore imperative that you think long and hard about what your contact center should be able to accomplish before you finalize its implementation. But sometimes you just don't have the time. Many fledgling organizations need to hurry to put the pieces together for this vital component of their customer-relationship strategy.
Is it possible to set up an efficient and effective contact center with a limited amount of time? Although you might not accomplish everything you need to, you can create a functioning contact center in just five days. Here's how.
1. Day 1: Determine the call center's objective. Will your contact center represent a service organization, make appointments, handle complaints or provide product information? Is its purpose to handle problems with hardware, software or a consumer product? Whatever the case, your ultimate goal should be to build goodwill for your company and its products. Doing so will enhance what is probably your secondary goal: to increase sales, profits and ROI (return on investment) for the contact center itself.
2. Day 2: Take stock of resources already in place. Does your business site include office space for a call center? What about software to handle incoming calls and manage your customer and product databases? How much of an upgrade or change of equipment is needed to handle calls efficiently? Do you have personnel who are adequately trained in the product to answer questions and assist customers?
You must also consider scheduling. How many time zones will your call center cover? How many employees per shift? How much training is necessary to acquaint agents with the product and the protocol for taking calls? You may want to use a vendor who is experienced in teaching call-center nuances.
3. Day 3: Set up a plan for training employees. In addition to training employees on call-center technology, you also need to keep staff abreast of new developments in your company's product line. How will databases be updated? Who can access the information therein? Might you outsource call-taking duties during peak hours or during an outage due to weather or other catastrophes? If so, how will the these fill-in employees represent your firm's product?
4. Day 4: Address the nuts and bolts. Now that you have an idea of what you want and how it will be accomplished, it's time to implement your plan. Contact phone companies, ISPs and software companies to find out what services they offer that best suit your company's needs. Do you need to upgrade your present systems, or do you need to completely revamp them? What is the cost? How long should it take to get everything running smoothly? Talk to vendors and find the answers to your questions before you sign up.
5. Day 5: Find the expert. Determine whether anyone in your organization has experience implementing a call center. If you find such a person, put him or her in charge. There is no substitute for experience, and you need someone who knows the pitfalls and challenges of getting a call center up and running. Be prepared for your call center to succeed. Someone who knows the ropes can create buy-in and help employees, including sales personnel, understand the benefit of a call center that runs smoothly and keeps customers informed and happy.
If you're on a tight schedule to create a call center, these five steps can get you up and running in just one week. Keep in mind, however, that you are building a relationship with customers. This is a continual process that doesn't end once you launch your call center. You need to regularly monitor and measure the success of your contact center: Are agents responding to customers efficiently and effectively? Has customer satisfaction improved or worsened as a result of their experience with your contact center? Be sure to create a monitoring plan that considers these issues and others like them for your contact center.
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