Call centers likely bring to mind massive facilities housing rows of employees in cubicles, staring at computer screens with headsets. If you’ve been forced to call the customer service department of a major company recently, you may not be surprised to learn that many of these roles are outsourced to other countries, with the Philippines boasting the highest concentration of outsourced call center jobs in the world. The country has dominated the market share due to factors like low costs and language skills. Despite the economic advantages of outsourcing, call centers still retain a significant presence in the U.S. job market and are making a comeback, thanks to strategic decisions on the part of large corporations concerning call center locations in the United States and the growing trend toward work-from-home options.
Not all call centers have to be large operations, nor do they have to be run by big organizations. In fact, setting up a call center is a viable idea for anyone looking to start their own business. Nearly the entire concept is flexible and can be tailored to your individual circumstances and expertise. In its infancy, the call center may not even require multiple employees, depending on the field you choose.
There are multiple types of call centers, including those that take inbound calls, make outbound calls, or perform telemarketing calls. Though you probably have an initial preference, you’re likely limited by your resources, as well as regulations. The most cost-effective option is to work from home, especially if you plan to start small with a few employees. However, if you’re looking to kick-off a bigger operation or working from home isn’t feasible, it makes sense to rent office space right away. Whichever route you choose, you must be sure to research both the local and state requirements to ensure you comply with any zoning restrictions related to small business.
As you work through your business plan, you’ll need to determine the type of equipment and software you need to procure, in addition to how many phone lines you require. There are so many tools that vendors offer to manage call volume, including tracking and call logs and detailed call history with price points that vary widely. Depending on the reporting you want, and what you potentially would like to offer your clients, you’ll need to choose the software for your call center carefully.
Who are your clients, and how do you find them? This depends on the niche you choose. You have to get your name out into the marketplace to advertise your services. It will be essential to create a website, network, or even promote your business in magazines that cater to companies you want to support. If you’re unsure which field to specialize in and worried you may choose a saturated segment of the market, think outside the box. Some websites can highlight some of the more unconventional routes and explain options like an operator payment gateway, or other alternatives you may not have initially considered. These websites must have safeguards in place for protection against high risk credit card processing.
Once you lay the groundwork for your call center, you’ve set the stage to expand as much as you’re willing. While your employees will be the backbone of your operation and you can continue to move to bigger locations to accommodate growth, your preliminary efforts to set up a sound infrastructure and build solid relationships with clients will pay dividends over the long term.