Five best practices for starting a call center

When starting a call center, use these best practices from the experts.

There many factors to consider when building a new call center, and doing it successfully can be a difficult, time-consuming process. 

To help the launch go smoothly as possible, use these five best practices from the experts.

1. Develop a call center project plan.

When starting a new call center, it's important to develop a call center project plan. This plan should take into consideration the business objectives and budget for the project. According to call center expert Lori Bocklund, the cost of building a call center can include many elements, and she recommends using a modeling tool that can help plan out the call center and budget based on the processes to be handled and the workload those processes demand.

For new call center outsourcers, it is equally important to analyze competitors in the market and find a niche, says call center expert Donna Fluss. There are nearly 80 outsourcers in North America and many additional competitors offshore, so finding a niche is they key to success for an outsourcer.

2. Bring in a call center consultant.

Since building a new call center can be a difficult, time-consuming task that requires many resources, experts recommend hiring a consultant to help with the process. Call center consultants can help develop call center processes, specifications and metrics, make decisions about call center software and implement best practices. Get tips and advice for working with a consultant in this SearchCRM.com special report.

3. Choose your call center infrastructure wisely.

There is a wide variety of call center technology available today, and it can be tricky to determine what technology you really need. According to Fluss, figuring out what call center technologies are necessary for your business depends on many factors, including the purpose of the call center, its size, location and the channels it will support. According to former SearchCRM.com expert Steve Raye, new call centers may want to consider the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, since these solutions are less expensive than on-premise applications and using this model can help the call center to get up and running quickly. Get an overview of call center software in this learning guide.

4. Develop a call center hiring and staffing plan.

Once the development of your call center is underway, you'll need to think about hiring call center staff. Will all of your call center agents be on-site, will you use at-home agents, or both? Remote call center agents can offer a variety of benefits, from cost savings to increased productivity, and are a great option for call centers of any size, says Fluss.

Figuring out how many call center agents you need to staff your call center is another important part of the process. When calculating call center staffing needs, Bocklund recommends considering key factors such as how often customers will call your center, what they will call about and how long the calls will be. Since these factors vary from company to company, calculating staffing needs is a "custom" calculation for every company. Basic call center staffing tools can be found on the Internet, and more complex workforce management systems can provide in-depth scheduling and staffing functionality.

5. Create a call center metrics strategy.

One of the most important things a new call center can do is begin tracking call center metrics from day one. A new call center should align their call center performance metrics with business goals, and be sure to monitor metrics that will help establish a baseline, identify anomalies and look for trends, says Bocklund. Visit the call center metrics school for detailed information on the top call center metrics every call center should be tracking.

This was first published in October 2008

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