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Top 5 Tips to Starting a Call Centre

Setting up a call centre in house requires careful planning and management. Some companies prefer to outsource their call centre requirements. This can be more expensive in the long run and puts the control in to the hands of others. If you have decided to set up a call centre in your business, here are the 5 top tips:

Develop a sound business plan

All businesses need a business plan in order to succeed. You can’t just wing it. You need to include all potential expenses, your short and long term strategies, goals and the steps you need to take in order to achieve your goals.

Set specific and measurable goals

You and your team should be aware of what you need to achieve for the day, the week, in 6 months, etc. Seeing a specific goal allows everyone to focus. It is also a good motivator. However, make sure that your goals are realistic. Here are a few guiding questions.

  • What is our goal?
  • How much do we need in order to achieve this goal?
  • What skills are required from the group?
  • Who are the key players?
  • When do we need to achieve this?
  • How do we measure success

Now that you know your goals, you need an action plan. This is a detailed plan on how you will be able to achieve a specific goal.

For example, you want to improve customer satisfaction in 3 months. Your plan should outline how this will be acheived. Here’s an example of how you may write it.

Set aside 2 hours weekly, on Tuesday and Friday for staff coaching. Train employees on the latest customer service trends. Benchmark excellent calls. Learn two new skills each week and apply them at work. Give surveys to the customers before a call ends to measure their satisfaction level. Tally the results in June to measure success rate.

Get the right equipment

With the right technology call centre staff will be much more efficient. You need a specialised telephone system for a call centre that includes great features to make call dialing and logging quicker and more effective.  Features like auto dialing, recording, call monitoring are essential and headsets will free up the hands for typing. Sophisticaed inbound call solutions include intelligent call routing, music on hold and call management. If you are accepting credit cards over the phone, you need your equipment to be PCI Compliant and this includes your call recording.

Seamless integration of the system in to your companies software is essential for organisation and efficiancy. You can have the system integrated with customer service platforms, payment gateways, databases, and call recording. You can automatically record the phone call and attach it to the customer service ticket in your management software ticket.

All of this  can be connected to efficient reporting allowing you to monitor the complete activity of the call centre. You can listen to live conversations, run reports, keep track of call targets and track individual agent activity.

Managing staff is hard. Managing a call center is especially tough. You need to have people with different skills to ensure that you meet all the needs of your customers. You also need to be able to handle multiple projects and deal with a lot of pressure.

Aside from these things, you need to watch your costs. You need to become a good manager in order for your call centre to succeed. Right from the start, you need to present a professional image. Keep this in mind when starting a call centre.

Find the right location

You need to find a good location for your call centre. It should be accessible to your employees and clients. Disaster management in your chosen location should be in place. What happens when there is bad weather, a power interruption, etc? Business continuity is essential when operating a call centre.

Remember to acquire the proper licensing to operate a call centre in your area.

You need a good Internet and VoIP provider. They should be reliable.

Ensure that your building is fully equipped to handle noise. If you are renting a room, you don’t want to disturb the other office next door. Your agents should also have their own cubicles to reduce unnecessary noise.

Plants and water decorations help to improve noise reduction. The layout of your office is also crucial to minimizing noise.

Tell your agents to use the break room when they are on break and not to stay in the work area and chat with other agents. They should take their personal business elsewhere.

Invest in equipment that help minimize background noise. Clients should not be able to hear other calls and agent conversations. You will sound professional and your clients will thank you for it.

Hire the right people

You need the right people with the right skills and attitude in order for your call centre to succeed. List down the required skills for potential employees. Of course they need to have excellent conversation skills. They should also have excellent decision-making abilities. They should be able to solve problems on their own.

Your employees’ tone and language also matter. They should be able to stay positive even during tough situations. They should be able to talk to the customers in a positive manner.

Never underestimate the power of positive thinking to your environment. Instead of saying ‘we can’t’ or ‘there is no way’, make it a habit to add ‘we can do this’ to your daily conversations with your team.

Your staff will find sentences with a positive slant more motivating. They will also respond more to these kinds of sentences.

Your staff should also have to ability to really listen. Effective listening is a powerful skill that is rarely used. Let them take the time to really listen to their customers. To choose the right staff you might want to add some trick questions in the interview just to review their attention to detail.

Bonus tip

Start promoting and advertising your business online and in person

Take advantage of free online tools to advertise your call centre in your area. You can approach businesses in your area that will benefit from your services. Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Leverage it to spread the word.

Last but not least – Good luck!

Author: Yazz

Yazz is a trained telecommunications engineer with a diploma in telecommunications. He has spent the last 15 years working for Telefonica, one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world.