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How to Tackle the Call Center Setup Process

By: Bryan Overcash on April 17th, 2019

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How to Tackle the Call Center Setup Process

Contact Center Management

One of your biggest challenges in adding successful call center services to your operations is setting up the facility. There’s a lot of upfront time and capital investment in the set-up of the physical space for your facility. Even if you already have a contact center, it could be failing because you didn’t know how to set up a successful contact center in the first place. At GCS, some of the common problems we see are choosing the wrong location, building a facility that is too small, and picking the wrong combination of technology to balance the needs of your customers and your organization.

Don’t worry. All is not lost. You can get your call center on the right track. Whether you are new to call centers or already have a facility, the number one thing you need to do is look at your business requirements and work backward. As you map out your needs, you will be able to see what you truly need in a facility. Your business requirements should drive most of the decisions you make about your call center.

Here are some of the factors you should consider.

 

Determine Location

Picking a location for your call center is more involved than finding a big building or purchasing a large lot in your area. Your contact center facility doesn’t even need to be in the same country, but there is a human element – the available talent pool. After all, most of your agents are going to come from the area where you locate your center. If you need more than a few agents, the availability of a cost-effective workforce should be your first consideration.

Define the specialized skill sets

Next, consider the specific skill sets or qualifications you need. If you want to have a technical help desk, you are going to need to find agents with the IT or software knowledge. Conversely, if you only need back-office processing, you might not even need agents who speak English.

Language Requirement

Speaking of speaking English, your language needs also play into your decision about call center location. Where are the pockets of people  who speak the languages you need. For example, it will be easier to find bilingual agents in areas with a high concentration of Spanish speakers. Likewise, if people are calling in from all over the world, then you want to have multiple languages spoken in your target location. Salt Lake City in Utah is well known for this.

What is the pool of available agents in locations that you’re considering?

Next, look at the pool of agents in the locations you are considering. Go beyond language and skill sets to look at different aspects of the area. Ideally, look at data to determine how saturated the market is. Also, consider access to public transportation in the area. This can expand the available pool of agents because it’s more accessible to more people.

Weather

Think about the weather too. If there is too much snow or some other weather issue, your agents may have a difficult time getting to work. Usually, if it’s a second location, you should put it outside the weather pattern of your other centers.

Onshore, Nearshore or Offshore

Sometimes the answers to the questions above will drive your overall center location. There are three main areas (and countless combinations to  placing your call center. You can select from onshore, nearshore or offshore.

Onshore

Onshore, or Domestic,  just means your call center is located somewhere in the United States or Canada. The advantages of onshore call centers include agents who speak English natively and whose accents sound more natural to U.S. based customers. If you pick a place somewhat near your core operations, the agents will be more likely to understand local geography, relate with customs, regional colloquialisms, and the area’s accent.

Nearshore

Nearshore call centers are not housed in the US or Canada, but they aren’t far away. Mexico or the Dominican Republic are good examples. The people there are obviously not native English speakers, but they usually have a greater familiarity with North American English. Often their agents are bilingual and many have lived in the U.S. These call centers cost less than onshore facilities, and they are easier for you to visit should the need arise.

Offshore

Offshore call centers are located abroad. They are typically placed in countries with high skill and education levels but where the cost of labor is lower comparatively. Language barriers can be an issue, and multiple calls may be necessary to resolve a problem, but the prices are often the lowest. In general, this option works best for back office functions and for call types requiring the sharing of basic information. For instance, for  customers checking the status of an order.


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Physical Space

Next, think about your physical space needs. There are several factors that influence the size of your facility.

Number of Agents Needed

If you haven’t run projections as to how many agents you need to handle your call volume, begin with that. You will need to have a desk for each of those people. If you have multiple shifts, customer advocates may be able to share desks, but not everyone is comfortable with that. The types of agents you will use make a difference as well. Planning a dedicated facility requires more precision than shared or blended agents.

Additional Support Functions

Think about the other support functions you will need to offer too. Each one of them will require space as well.

Training Room (or Two)

You will need at least one room to train new agents. Two would be better. The size of these rooms will depend on how many people you expect to teach at a single time.

Quality Assurance

If you want to have a Quality Assurance department on-site, you will need a place for those team members to work. Plus, you may need an actual room for your QA team. Alternatively, you could use remote QA services.

Recruiting

Include space for interviews as well if you plan to hire agents on-site. You may want a reception area or a separate interview space.

IT Department

You need room for your IT department too. While this team can be mostly remote, you may need room for equipment or to have a small on-site group.

Common Areas

Common areas will take up space in your call center. Having enough bathrooms to service all of your agents is essential. You will also need to have different break rooms, like a small kitchen or a dining area, as well as lockers for your customer advocates to put their things while they work. Outdoor spaces and room to move, in general, will help make your facility more comfortable.

Square Footage

You may also want to include room to grow. Building a call center facility that puts you at full capacity is not the most efficient strategy.

 

Purchase Technology

Finally, look at your technology needs. You might want to buy all new software and equipment. When you first build a call center, especially if you did it without professional guidance, it is not unusual to find out that you may not have made the best technology choices. Setting up your call center is a chance to improve your current operations.

Which CRM Will You Use?

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are crucial. Depending on your needs, you may want to buy a brand new one or connect to an existing CRM. Either way, your goal is to provide a single point of reference for customer information so your call center agents can provide service based on up to date information. That often means it needs to interact with other information platforms. It also is the primary tool for the agent to update any activities they perform on the customer’s behalf. .

What Will the Phone System Be?

Give some thought to your phone system as well. Even after you pick one that integrates with your CRM, you have lots of options available. If you are adding a second call center, the decision is easy; you will probably just connect to the phone system you are already using in the other center. If you are starting from scratch, the decision is more involved. Generally, phone systems fall into two categories: on-premise or cloud-based. Talk to your consultant or GCS, to review which one of these options is right for you.

Other Systems

Your contact center facility is going to need a few other systems. Some of these may be modules, or part of, your CRM or Phone System. These will help keep your call center operations running smoothly.

QA System

You will need a Quality Assurance system for recording and scoring calls. This helps you make sure that your agents are handling the customer appropriately and applying the concepts you’ve trained them on.

Workforce Management System

For larger teams, Workforce Management is also essential. This lets you organize your agents so that you know how many agents you need per interval to meet demand based on history.

Human Resource Management System

A human resource management system is also important. This simplifies payroll,  on-boarding, time-tracking and benefits.

Disaster Recovery

Think about what happens if there is a problem with your communications systems. What happens to your customers if the power is out or your call center is closed because of the weather? Natural disasters, big and small, happen all the time. Having a disaster recovery system in place will keep you up and running (and your customers happy).

 

Conclusion

Setting up your call center the right way will save you time and money in the long run. Failing to find the right space in the right place isn’t a little mistake; it is an expensive one. You will see that it is tougher to move your facility than to adopt a new software or even add on space. You need to choose wisely. GCS can help. Contact us today to learn how we can help you set up your call center for success.


The Complete Guide to Call Center Services

What you NEED to know about the different call center services available to you

Learn more