All over the globe, organizations are known to outsource their call centre jobs to other agencies that are specialized in handling them. In recent times, companies no longer restrict outsourcing their call centre jobs within the country they operate from but also to other countries.
For example; large organizations in the United States and United Kingdom are known to outsource their call centre jobs to call centre agencies in India, China and Philippines. They do so simply because it will cost them less to outsource it and it gives them ample time to concentrate on their core job.
So, the basic thing to do to be able to leverage on this opportunity to earn good money from multinationals is to set up your own call centre agency and then position it in such a way that you can attract organizations that would need your services.
Although, setting up a call centre agency requires huge startup capital, but it is known to be a highly profitable venture. As a matter of fact, it is not cheap setting up a standard call centre in any part of the world – the equipment is known to be expensive.
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Who is a Call Center Agent?
Call center agents are people who handle incoming phone calls on behalf of a company. Many businesses have customers calling them all day to make enquiries, lodge complaints and make requests, order purchases and request for general support. Call center agents are also sometimes involved in Tele-marketing on behalf of their clients.
Tele-marketing involves following up leads and calling up people who may be interested in a company’s product or services and advertising such products to them. Telemarketing is a form of business advertisement which many companies are now embracing because of its effectiveness in generating sales.
You can start a call center agency from home as long as you are able to get a few businesses to sign up for your services. The size of your clients business as well as the size of their customer base would determine where and how you should start your call center agency.
If you intend to start your own call centre agency, then you would be required to draft a good business plan and this article proffers to guide you on how to prepare a call centre agency business plan from start to finish;
Types of Call Center Agencies
There are different types of call center agencies. There is the inbound call center, outbound call center, Bilingual call centers and the Virtual call centers.
- Inbound Call Center-: Inbound call centers receive incoming calls on behalf of their clients. These calls are generally customer support calls. An inbound call center agent takes such calls and handles the issue but if it’s a challenge that cannot be handled by him, he forwards the complaint to those who are responsible for sorting out such problems.
- Outbound Call center-: An outbound call center agent does not receive calls but makes calls on behalf of their client to promote sales. They are also known as Telemarketers.
- Dual Call Center-:These call center agencies handle inbound as well as outbound calls. They make telemarketing calls on behalf of their clients and also receive customer service calls as well.
- Bilingual Call Centers-: Some companies have foreigners as some of their clients and require customer support for such customers. A Bilingual call center agency would be able to respond to calls in multiple languages. However, you do not have to know how to speak all languages to run a bilingual call center as long as you can hire people who can speak the required languages.
- Virtual Call Center-: While a traditional Call center agency operates from an office where clients may have physical access to the company, a virtual call center agency operates strictly online. All the business is conducted online.
- Part-time Call Center-: While some clients may require that you work full-time, there are clients who would only require you to work for a specified number of hours daily.
Starting a Call Center Agency – Sample Business Plan Template
1. Study and Research
The first thing that is expected of you to do in order to prepare a call centre agency business plan is to spend time to study and research the call centre industry. It is important that you take your time to read up everything you would come across that relates to call centre.
If you have never worked in the call centre before, it will pay you to spend time visiting different call centers around you to see how they work and the structure that must be in place and also the standard operating procedures in these call centers.
The truth is that all call centers are not expected to operate same way, which is why it is important to visit as much call centers as you can to get first hand information / experience.
2. Understand the Concept of “Talk Time” in Call Center Business
As an intending Call Center business operator, it is important that you understand the concept of talk time because that is the basis on which you would be evaluated and paid. Talk time is the time you spend on phone attending to each customer starting from the greetings to the end of the call. There are lots of metrics used to measure talk time such as:
- Average Talk Time-: This is average minutes spent on phone with each customer.
- After-Call Work-: Usually when a customer calls, the call center agent is usually required to perform such tasks that are not call-related like transferring technical challenges to the technical department. The time spent performing this task is known as After-Call work time and is also evaluated and paid for.
- Average Handle Time-: This is the addition of both the average talk time and the after-call work time.
If you have studied the call centre industry and you have carried out your research, the next thing to do to be able to prepare a good call centre agency business plan is to conduct your feasibility studies. Feasibility studies is about testing the waters to see if your business idea can fly in a particular location, all that is needed to set up such business and the financial implication of starting a particular business.
So, part of the information you would need to obtain while conducting your feasibility studies, is the cost of setting up a standard call centre, the salary range for a call centre agent, the best call centre structure to adopt and the type of organization that would need your services et al. These are some of the basic things your feasibility studies should address.
4. Analyze the Data You Obtained
If you succeeded in conducting a thorough feasibility studies, then you would have the right data that will guide you with your budgeting, strategies and projections. So, once you have been able to gather the required data, you are expected to take time to analyze the data.
If you don’t know how to properly analyze data, you can outsource it to experts who will help you do a professional job. Once your data is properly analyzed and interpreted, it will definitely make your job easier.
Once you have all the materials and info needed, then the next step to follow to be able to prepare a call centre agency business plan is to develop a draft copy of your business plan. At this stage, you should attempt to highlight key components of your business plan. You should be able to pencil down areas that would eventually become headings or sub – headings in your overall business plan.
- Flesh up Your Draft-: After you have successfully developed a draft of your call centre agency business plan, then the next step to follow is to begin to flesh up the draft. You don’t have to rush to get this done; you might take out time to confirm your facts and figures at this stage.
Sometimes, some of the facts and figures you obtained during research and feasibility studies would have changed and that is why you must double check them. For instance, if you are going to be importing your equipments, then you must be current with the exchange rate.
- Review Your Business Plan-: Once you have successfully fleshed up your draft, you would definitely have a clearer picture of your call centre agency business plan. But you shouldn’t just stop there; you need to take out time to review the business plan.
At this stage, you can successfully make all the necessary corrections and adjustments. If indeed you want to come up with a good call centre agency business plan that can pass reality check, then you should endeavor to engage one or two professionals to help you with the review.
- Print and Bind the Final Business Plan-: Lastly, if you are satisfied with the business plan after the review, the next thing to do is to neatly print and bind the final business plan. You can print as much copies as you like because if you want to source for startup capital from investors or if you want to apply for loan from the bank, you will be required to submit your business plan.
No doubt preparing a business plan for call centre agency might be tasking and time consuming, but if you follow the steps discussed above, it will surely make it easier for you to achieve.
6. Get the Needed Equipments to Start a Call Center Agency
To start your own call center agency, you will need the following equipments:
- Desktop Computer-: You will need a desktop computer as laptops are usually not approved of. Your Desktop must have a Windows XP operating system, a RAM of between 512MB and 1GB, 1Ggz-2Ghz processor, 15-17 inches monitor, Anti-virus and spyware protection, Sound Card, Speakers and Microsoft Office tools.
- Internet Connection (Broadband)-: DSL and cable are suitable but dial-up and wireless internet connection cannot be used.
- Phone Service-: You will need a dedicated land phone line that does not allow features like call waiting, blocking of calls or voicemail services. You may not be allowed to use cell phones and VOIP services by some clients.
- Telephone Headset-: You would need a headset that comes with a noise-masking microphone.
- Skype-: Some clients would require you to use Skype.
- E-mail Account-: This can be opened for free either on yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or whichever service provider your client specifically requests for.
- Printer: This is optional.
- Web Browser: Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
- Instant Message Service: Some clients would require that you have an Instant message account such as yahoo messenger.
If you are going to be working from home, then you must ensure that you mark out a separate space or room for it in an environment that is clean and free from noise and interruptions. Apart from the equipment mentioned above, you may also need a secure cabinet to keep files, a fax machine and a back-up power supply.
The Cost of Setting Up a Call Center Agency
Cost is an important factor to consider when you want to start a call center agency. There are both capital costs and re-current costs. Items like a PC, Telephone and headsets may be bought once; but you will need to continue to spend on other items like internet connection and phone bills monthly. You can set up your Home based call center within a day with less than $1,000.
Where and How Will You Get Customers to Patronize Your Call Center Business?
The most important factor to consider in setting up a call center agency is how to get customers. The first thing to do is to conduct a research of companies that may need the services of call center agents.
A good target is new e-commerce businesses, MLM businesses and generally, new fast-growing businesses around you. Such new companies may not have a call center agency yet. Online stores are also good places to scout for clients because they have lots of customers calling them to make enquiries about their products.
There are also lots of opportunities for call center agents on freelancing websites like freelancer.com or odesk.com. Although as a starter, you may face some challenges with bidding for and getting jobs because business owners generally prefer to hire agents with proven track records and sufficient experience on such websites.