Do you want to start a customer service firm? If YES, here is a detailed guide to starting a customer service consulting business with no money or experience.
As an aspiring entrepreneur with background in human resources and customer service, one way you can launch your way into the business world is to start your own customer service consulting firm. You can be rest assured that your services would always be in demand not only by small organizations, but also big corporations that cut across different industries.
Customer service consulting firms are organizations that specialize in providing business consulting services and training to various industries as it relates to managing their customers.
Starting a customer services consulting firm is not too expensive except for the money required to rent and furnish an office space. Running this type of business requires that you should be trained as a consultant and it is indeed a very lucrative business in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom because of the desire for continuous growth of businesses cum customer base.
If you have decided to start a customer service consulting firm, then you must make sure that you carry out thorough feasibility studies and market survey. This will enable you locate the business in a community or city with the right demography; a location that can readily accept your services.
If you have been pondering on starting your own customer service consulting firm, but do not know how to go about it, then you should consider going through this article; it will sure give you the needed guide and direction.
Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – A Complete Guide
- Industry Overview
Customer service consulting businesses fall under the Marketing and Customer Service Consultants industry and the industry consists of Marketing strategy and market development consulting services, customer services consulting and training, sales management and development consulting services, strategic management consulting services and other marketing management consulting and implementation services.
The Marketing and Customer Service Consultants industry provides operating advice and assistance to clients on various marketing issues, including campaign strategy and planning, pricing and sales forecasting, how to effectively manage customers and other related services that will help increase customer retention for the organization they are working for.
The Marketing and Customer Service Consultants Industry is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in countries like united states of America, United Kingdom, France, India, Italy, China, Switzerland, Australia and Canada et al.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 214,320 registered and licensed customer service cum marketing consulting firms responsible for employing about 402,225 and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $55 billion annually.
The industry is projected to grow at 6.2 percent annual rate within 2013 and 2019. It is important to state that no single company can boast of having the largest available market shares in the industry.
A recent report published by IBISWorld shows that over the past five years, the industry has benefited from rising corporate profitability and increasing advertising expenditure, which has resulted in higher demand for advisory services. With an improving economy, clients are spending more on advertising, especially through new digital channels.
As a result, many companies have sought the expertise of marketing consultants to help them navigate the world of online advertising and sales. Strong demand has translated into steady industry revenue growth at an annualized rate of 6.2 percent to reach revenue of $55bn in 2018. In the same timeframe, the number of businesses has grown by 3.4 percent and the number of employees has grown by 5.1 percent.
The fact that customer service consulting firms can easily be found in cities in the United States of America, does not in any way make the industry to be over saturated. The fact that there are organizations and businesses out there who would always need professional customer services consulting from time to time makes the business ever green.
Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own customer service consulting business despite the fact that the business is relatively competitive is that the business is profitable and can be started in any part of the world.
Starting a customer service consulting firm requires professionalism and good grasp of the customer service industry. Besides, you would need to get the required certifications and license and also meet the standard for such business before you can be allowed to start a customer service consulting firm in the United States. One good thing about the industry is that there is a readily available market for their services.
Table of Content
- Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – Legal Matters
- Is Professional Certification Needed to Start a Customer Service Consulting Business?
- Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – Technical and Manpower Details
- Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – The Marketing Plan
Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographics composition of those who require the services of customer service consulting firms cut across businesses involved in relating with customers.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics of your customer service consulting business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include small and medium scale businesses and large corporations who want to expand their customer base, retain their old customers and serve their existing customers better and it could be within and outside the city you are operating in, who have the capacity to pay for your services.
List of Niche ideas Within the Customer Service Consulting Business That You Can Specialize in
Most customer service consulting firms tend to operate general services that a standard customer service consulting firm is expected to offer. That is why it seems that there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, some customer service consulting firms may decide to major in some key or niche areas such as;
- Strategic clientele base management consulting
- Call center and telemarketing consulting
- Marketing and sales consulting services as it relates to customers
The Level of Competition in the Customer Service Consulting Industry
The competition that exists in the customer service consulting business goes beyond competition amongst customer service consulting firms in your location; you are expected to compete with other consulting firms that have the capacity to consult and proffer business solutions to businesses. Thus, it will be right to say the competition in the customer service consulting line of business is relatively tough.
No matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you can proffer business solutions to your clients as it relates to managing their customers, you can deliver excellent customer care services, get testimonials from your clients and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
List of Well – Known Brands in the Industry
These are some of the leading customer service consulting services firms in the United States of America and also in the globe;
- Boston Consulting Group
- McKinsey & Company
- Anchor Advisors, Ltd.
- Fresh Squeezed Ideas
- Amarna Group
- Ledgeview Partners
- Morgan Hill Partners
- Moran Consulting
- The DiJulius Group
- Ernst & Young Advisory
- Infosys Consulting
- KPMG Advisory
- The Advisory Board Company
- PA Consulting Group
- Slalom Consulting
When it comes to starting a customer service consulting firm, you just have to get your feasibility studies and market research right before venturing into the business. It is good to mention that the customer service consulting business is not for rookies; it is for professionals who have the required experience to proffer solutions to organizations as it relates to managing their customers.
Starting this kind of business definitely entails that you acquire the required degree and profession certifications and also build good working relationship with stakeholders in various industries. If you are already a major player in the customer service consulting industry before venturing out to start your own firm, this might not be an issue.
Depending on the scale you want to start from, you might require as much as multiple thousands of dollars to strike this off and at the same time you might need far less than that if you choose to start the business from your house, a virtual office and shared office space.
You will be expected to hire the services of experts that will help you with comprehensive economic and cost analysis and the profitability of your businesses within the location that you intend launching the business. If you get your economic and cost analysis right before launching the business, you may not have to stay the long before you breakeven.
Starting Your Customer Service Consulting Firm from Scratch vs Buying a Franchise
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful customer service consulting services firm as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive to buy the franchise of an established customer service consulting firm, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.
But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the industry, then you might just want to start your own customer service consulting firm from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.
In case you don’t know, most successful customer service consulting firms started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business
If you decide to start your own customer service consulting firm today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established customer service consulting firms and also other related consulting and advisory businesses who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
Some other threats that you are likely going to face as a customer service consulting firm operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies, the arrival of a competitor within your location of operation and global economic downturn which may affect your firm.
Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – Legal Matters
- Best legal entity to use for this type of business
If you are considering starting a customer service consulting firm, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.
You can either choose a general partnership or limited liability company for your customer service consulting firm. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale customer service consulting firm especially if you are just starting out with moderate startup capital.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have clients from all across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your customer service consulting firm; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to study the various legal entities available for your customer service consulting firm, you will agree that limited liability company is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your customer service consulting firm so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.
Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for a Customer Service Consulting Firm
When it comes to Choosing a name for your business, it is expected that you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own customer service consulting firm, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- McIntosh Jason & Co® Customer Service Consulting, LLC
- Thomas Randel® Customer Service Consulting, LLC
- Ferdinand McFarlane® Customer Service Consulting, LLP
- Larry Tyler© Customer Service Consulting Company, Inc.
- Harrow Smiths & Associates® Customer Service Advisers, LLP
- Jude Stevenson® Customer Service Consulting Group
- East Coast® Customer Service Consulting, LLC
- Phil Rowland & Co Customer Service Advisors, LLP
- Globe Cubes® Customer Service Consulting, Inc.
- Shavonne Pearce® Customer Service Consulting, Inc.
In the United States of America and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance policy covers and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance policy covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own customer service consulting firm in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Financial reinsurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark
If you are considering starting your own customer service consulting firm, usually you are required to file for intellectual property protection/trademark because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to challenge organizations and individuals in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
So also, if you want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
Is Professional Certification Needed to Start a Customer Service Consulting Business?
Apart from timely and result oriented consulting, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some customer service consulting firms stand out. If you want to make an impact in the customer service consulting industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in the market.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own customer service consulting services firm;
- Certificate in Customer Service Management – APCSC
- Chartered Customer Service Professionals Certifications
- Certified Customer Service Professional (CCSP) Certification | MedCerts
- Degree in Management Related Courses
Please note that you cannot successfully run a customer service consulting firm in the United States without necessarily acquiring professional certifications and business license even if you have adequate experience cum background in the customer service consulting industry.
List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Customer Service Consulting Services Business
The necessity of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations.
If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own customer service consulting firm in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Business License and Certification
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Consulting contract documents
- Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
- Company Bylaws
- Insurance Policy
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Financing Your Customer Service Consulting Business
Apart from the required certifications and hands-on experience, starting a customer service consulting firm can be cost effective. Securing a standard office in a good business district, equipping the office and paying your employees are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things to consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business or to partner with you.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your customer service consulting firm;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Choosing a Suitable Location for your Customer Service Consulting Business
Customer service consulting firms and most consulting services based type of businesses require that you see physically with your clients hence it must be located in good location; a location that is prone to both human and vehicular traffic and a location that is at the epicenter of business activities if indeed you want to attend to loads of clients and maximize profits.
The fact that you can operate your customer service consulting firm from any part of the world does not mean that location has little influence on the success of a customer service consulting firm. If you have taken your time to study the industry, you will realize that customer service consulting firms and related businesses pay expensive rents in order to stay in a busy business district.
It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing / renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for a business such as customer service consulting services firm, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of your city to help you out.
Of course, you would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirts of town. Your clients should be able to drive down and locate your office with little or no difficulty.
The bottom line is that before choosing a location for your customer service consulting firm, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your customer service consulting services firm;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for the services of customer service consulting firms in the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The numbers of customer service consulting firms and related businesses in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community/state
- Traffic, parking and security
Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – Technical and Manpower Details
There are no special equipment needed to run this type of business except for customized customer service consulting software and other related software apps and social media management software applications. You will also need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves).
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the customer service consulting firm you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard firm then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office.
As regards the number of employees you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer / Lead Consultant, Customer Service Consultants and Trainers, Admin and HR Manager, Business Developers, Accountant, Customer Service Executive/Front Desk Officer.
You would need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard customer service consulting firm. Please note that there will be times when you are expected to hire experts to help you handle some high – profile clients especially from big corporations.
The Service Delivery Process of a Customer Service Consulting Business
The way customer service consulting firms work varies from one agency to another, but ideally, a customer service consulting firm is expected to first and foremost build a robust company profile before sourcing for clients.
When clients hire your services, they expect you to proffer solution to their pressing business-related challenges as it relates to effectively managing their customer base, expanding their customer base, and training of staff on customer services.
Depending on the agreement reached by both parties, you are expected to come up with measurable indices that will show that the professional advice you gave or training conducted is indeed producing results. In some cases, the agreed consulting fee will be paid in part and in some cases, it will be paid in full and upfront.
It is important to state that a customer service consulting services firm may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them, good return on investment (ROI) efficiency and flexibility.
Starting a Customer Service Consulting Business – The Marketing Plan
- Marketing Ideas and Strategies
As a customer service consulting firm, you would have to prove your worth before attracting corporate organizations. So, if you have plans to start your own customer service consulting firm, it will pay you to build first build a successful career in the industry.
Organizations will only hire your services if they know that they are going to solve their business – related challenges. So, when you are drafting strategies for your customer service consulting firm, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company’s profile.
Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to the customer service consulting industry and the organizations you have worked for. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for clients/investors.
Please note that in most cases, when sourcing for clients from corporate organizations and other institutions, you will be called upon to defend your proposal, and so you must be pretty good with presentations. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your customer service consulting firm;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the businesses within and outside the city you are operating in who have the capacity to pay for your services
- Advertise your business in relevant magazines, radio and TV stations (make yourself available for customer service consulting related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radio)
- List your business on local directories/yellow pages
- Attend international customer service expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different categories of clients in order to consult for them
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business
- Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing
Factors That Will Help You Get the Right product pricing
One key factor that will help you offer your services or retail your product at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your startup capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate.
Another strategy that will help you offer your services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products and services.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives.
Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning your Competitors
The customer service consulting industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to proffer solutions to business concerns as it relates to effectively managing their customers and ultimately increasing sales.
Organizations will always run to you if they know that you have a better option especially as it relates to producing results. One more key strategy that you can adopt is to ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and certified as it relates to their job roles.
Possible ways to increase customer retention for this particular business
When it comes to doing business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service provider or products.
Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service provider is when there is a drop in quality. Another reason is poor customer service. If you can continue to improve on return on investment (ROI) for organizations that hire your services, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers.
Some of the very important things that you would need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers, and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive feedback from them).
Strategies to boost your brand awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand awareness.
If your intention of starting a customer service consulting firm is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media and also social media (the internet). As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.
Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and to promote and advertise your customer service consulting firm;
- Place adverts on customer service and consulting related magazines and newspapers, radio and TV stations.
- Encourage the use of word of mouth publicity from your loyal customers
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Google+ and other platforms to promote your business.
- Ensure that you position your banners and billboards in strategic positions all around your city
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas in and around our neighborhood
- Advertise your business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Brand all your official cars and ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirt or cap at regular intervals.