There are many reasons why starting a call center makes good business sense. But whatever the reason, taking that first step can seem like stepping into the unknown. To ease into your search, here are five things to consider when starting a new call center.
1) You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. As you begin your exploration you may encounter unfamiliar terms like “first call resolution” ACD, Erlang calculations, VoIP, PSTN, etc. The technology can seem daunting. But remember that you don’t need to be the expert. Find a service provider you can trust. Consider companies evaluated and highly ranked by industry analysts. Then have a simple conversation with them. Help them understand what you need and then let them do the work for you. It really can be that simple.
2) You don’t need a new phone system. Certainly, a phone system is a central component of a new call center. But a phone system designed for office use does not have the specialized functionality needed when starting a call center. However, this does not mean you have to buy a new phone system. Look for a solution that offers special call center features and which can also work alongside your current phone system.
3) Call centers are more than call centers. A new call center must support many forms of access including telephone, web chat, SMS text, email and more. So, think of your call center as a “contact center” and build your requirements accordingly. A contact center will operate more efficiently if you have specialized tools to manage inbound contact volume from any access channel. Look for solutions which offer omnichannel support. An omnichannel solution will provide access for telephone as well as other digital channels, provide queuing and advanced routing, as well as allow agents to simultaneously interact with multiple channels.
4) Make customer experience your focus. Modern contact center solutions offer so many new capabilities which make it possible to really please customers when they contact you. It starts with your agents. Are they properly trained and coached? Do they have efficient tools to help them service customers? Is your call center properly staffed at all times? Do your call center managers have the tools to help them easily manage call center operations? Are you able to determine how your customers rate your services and capture their suggestions for improvement? Delivering great customer service is no longer something that only big companies with big call centers can deliver. Consider a solution that offers quality monitoring, workforce forecasting and scheduling and easy to understand analytics-driven reports and dashboards. If you are starting out small, these capabilities may sound like nice-to-have options. However, more and more they are the table stakes for a lean and well managed call center. Finally, look for a solution that can not only deliver all these capabilities, but who can also deliver everything as a single seamless solution as opposed to giving you a “toolbox” of call center tools.
5) You can own new call center without buying it. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to pay upfront when starting a new call center but rather pay for its use just like you pay to use utilities – a monthly payment based on what you use? It’s possible (and we are not talking about using leasing or loans). Many business applications are now delivered over the Internet as a service. Imagine simply connecting your agents to your call center using no more than an Internet connection. This also provides the added benefit of not having to buy server hardware, making room for new equipment and paying an IT person to maintain it. All of this is provided as part of your call center service. So, consider a contact center as a service (CCaaS) solution.
One final thought. Many business owners or managers will hire someone with call center management experience to help them navigate the process of evaluating a solution, hiring agents and managing call center operations. Consider hiring an experienced call center manager early in your journey. They can be a great sounding board and resource because, like you, they will be accountable for the results.
For more information, consider browsing these additional articles Navigating the Contact Center Purchase Decision and An Operations Leaders Guide to Contact Center Solutions.