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Action Plan for Starting a Call Center

As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Here is a basic, yet sound and reasonable action plan that will fit all types of call centers and situations:

Examine your motives: Why are you doing this? Is it for the right reason? Do you have practical expectations?

Research the industry:  Join call center associations; read industry literature; but be careful about advice you find on the Internet. Some Internet information about call centers is out-of-date and some is just plain wrong. Make sure that any Internet information is provided by a reputable person who is currently involved in the industry.

Make a working business plan:  Having a simple, yet effective business plan is essential in keeping you on track and focused. Your business plan should include objectives, a cost analysis, a profitability proforma (if you will be a profit center), equipment, telephone and Internet needs, planning for funding, obtaining the requisite licenses, permits, and insurances, and a time table.

Evaluate and select equipment:  This is a critical step. Call center equipment and software can be expensive. The features available on the equipment and software you buy will dictate the types of services you can offer and how efficient and effective you will be.

Determine your launch date:  This is the date that you will “go live” and begin processing calls. By then you will need your equipment installed, the phone lines in and working, your staff hired and trained, and most importantly work to do.

Buy and install equipment: Once you buy the equipment and software, your vendor will install it and provide some training. They will also be able to tell you when you need to place your order with them to have the system installed and staff trained for your launch date.

Order phone and Internet service:  Many vendors can order your phone service for you. At the very least, they will tell you what to order. Most call center equipment requires special phone service, which all too many phone company reps do not fully understand, so don’t try to do order phone service (except for one standard business line) on your own.

Hire and train staff: Hire and train more staff than you project you will need for your launch. Why? For two reasons. First, not all of the people you hire will be retained. Despite your best screening and hiring efforts, some will quit before they finish training, while others will quickly conclude that it is not the job for them, and still others will find a better job. The other reason is that when you go live there will undoubtedly be unanticipated problems, which extra staff can help resolve. Also, expect your staff to be tentative and a bit slow during those initial days of operation. Therefore, extra staff will be a blessing.

Begin operation:  Now that everything is in place, you can begin processing calls!

At this point you will have successfully launched a call center, congratulations!  The next goal is to grow it, fine-tune it, improve it, and expand it.