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How to set up a call centre

Some quick ways to improve your business

Article comments

Call Centres don’t have to be hugely complex, massively staffed affairs, with warehouses full of rows of people at desks. Think about your own internal IT help desk, or your company’s customer service department, with a few hunt groups programmed into the PBX.

Call Centre — or Contact Centre, if you include communication via email, or the Web — technology can be scaled down enough in both complexity and cost to be useful in a wide range of scenarios. Here we’ll look at the sorts of things you can get so you can decide if it would benefit your business.

Call Centre attributes
If you want a full-blown ‘multi-channel’ system whereby people can get in touch via email or web front ends, as well as speech, then you’re looking at the more expensive Contact Centre systems. But if you’re happy to work through phone calls, then a Call Centre can still offer a pretty wide choice of options.

The two main parts to a Call Centre are its ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) and IVR (Intelligent Voice Recognition — although in this instant that can be a bit of a misnomer since it tends to be DTMF tones from your keypad rather than your voice that is recognised in many of the smaller Call Centres) functions. There will also be some form of CTI, though again this is more limited than in the larger Contact Centres.

ACD handles how calls are routed to Call Centre agents — typically you’d have workflow scripts that tell the system which group of people to direct the call to, based on certain information. This could include Caller ID (you might have different people handling internal and external calls, for instance), called number (so you can publish different numbers for different product ranges you’re selling, maybe), time of day and information that has been entered via the telephone keypad.

Skills-based routing isn’t something you used to get with smaller systems, but it’s now becoming more common. This can be used in conjunction with the other routing information to get the call to the best person first time, to save having to transfer a caller round various agents. If you have international sites, you could use the CLI to direct calls to someone who speaks the same language as the caller, for instance.

You should also be able to choose, within a group of agents, who gets the next calls, whether it’s a circular hunt group arrangement, or new calls go to the person who’s been idle longest. And a useful option, if you can get it, is the ability to allow for a call wrap-up time, so that the agent has a few moments to finish writing up any notes once a call’s completed before being connected to a new caller.

The IVR part allows you to collect information from callers to use to direct calls, so that a caller can select whether they’re an existing customer querying the status of an order, or a new customer wishing to place one. You can also use this to provide recorded announcements. These can be the usual static ‘please hold’ type messages, or, better, a dynamic message that advises of your place in a queue, for instance, or the estimated waiting time, to improve customer satisfaction.

Agent features
When a call is passed to an agent, they should be presented with any information that has been collected along the way, such as caller ID, anything entered by the keypad, how long the call has been waiting, and whether this call has already been dealt with by anyone else —and any notes that might have been made already. Links to back end databases will be variable in their levels of integration, but some form of CTI will be essential.

Typical features you should be looking for are the ability for agents to communicate via instant messaging while on a call, if they need assistance (this is particularly useful for the training of new staff), being able to record calls, easily log into and out of the system, and also temporarily make themselves unavailable for new calls if required without having to actually log out.

Usually, the agent software will be PC-based, but you may be able to use phone handsets, albeit with a probable reduced functionality. It’s important that the software is usable — you should involve a representative from what will be your Call Centre to tell you if the fancy software that seems to do everything you think they need will actually work in their environment without them having to change too many processes.

Supervisor features should include the ability to monitor calls silently or barge in. Being able to broadcast messages to a group of agents can also be important. The main focus for the supervisors, though, will be the statistics they can get — reporting on wait times, call durations and agent activity is the one big ‘must have’ for a Call Centre and the easiest way for you to manage it is to allow supervisors to customise their own reports, so they don’t have to ask you to do it.

If this isn’t to be particularly large Call Centre, you don’t want to be spending a lot of time getting it up and running and looking after it. Scripts for routing calls should be easy to set up, with lots of samples provided.

Of course you also have to consider the size of system you need, both in terms of concurrent agents and call volumes, and whether you need a multi-site system. It can be much more cost-effective to have agents at remote sites — some banks do this, using branch staff as Call Centre agents during non-busy times at the branches — or even working from home. Resilience will be important, and where calls will fail to in effect of a major problem — or even just an unusually heavy call volume.

Whether you’re dealing with outside customers, or just need to make your internal systems more efficient, it’s well worth having a look at this lower end of the Contact Centre market, to see how a Call Centre can help your organisation.


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Daniel Abiodun said: i am in port elizabeth south africai have this client with about 6 desk they want me to deploy a call centre that can rout call to each desk accounding to their functions and service and also record call please help me with info on how i can do this danielabiodunhotmailcom

Daniel Abiodun said: i have this client with about 6 desk they want me to deploy a call centre that can rout call to each desk accounding to their functions and service and also record call please help me with info on how i can do this danielabiodunhotmailcom


Nerry said: By virtue of my profession and practice am interested in setting up a call centre of about 6-10 agents that will handle a 24 hours anonymous hotlines crisis management calls 24 hours product and service broadcast and law and regulations compliance hotline i run a firm of Certified information Systems Auditors Control and Fraud Experts Do you have info about the needed hardware software cost considerations please reach me on nerrysrenaissanceyahoocom 234-8030406268 234-8022666529

warezxg said: Hi can anyone help me to know what are hardware and software requirements for setting up a call center for 15-20 sittingagmailcomnd fro where i sholuld get the client pls mail me at warezxg

smdrafibasha said: hiiimy name is duggui wanna set a small call center in my town so that i can give job to those who are wasting their times with having good knowledge in them so i decided to set a call center and provide them a job so please help me and guide to how can i start first and hoe much should i invest in that and how can i get profit in that answer me at smdrafibashagmailcomTHANK you

tunde said: i am interested in setting up a call centre with just two to three staff I dont have any knowledge of the set up Please i need detail software and hardware that is required for effective call centre so also kindly liaise me with local vendor in Nigeria my mail address is bomolereaccionmfbcom Tel 234-1-8449432 thanks

Pavan said: We are into Call Center solutions including Dialers amp ACD alongwith customised CRM ITES implementation as per customer requirements in India and AbroadContact Pavan HegdeCompany Name InsteractCRMNumber 022 4055 3042IF ANY one is looking to setup a new Call centre please contact us

Pavan said: We are into BPO Project Outsourcing amp Call Center solutions including Dialers amp ACD alongwith customised CRM ITES implementation as per customer requirements in India and AbroadContact Pavan HegdeCompany Name InsteractCRMNumber 022 4055 3042IF ANY one is looking to setup a new Call centre please contact us

Ganesh said: HI i want to start small call center business i can arrange worker place net phone computer etc but i dont have idea please give me full detail about call center how it start how it earn reply my email id please ganeshkc7796gmailcomThank you

Phemmy said: Hello Sir I am interested in setting up a small call centerwith seating capacity of 10 Please kindly guide me on the entire processinvolve and the software and hardware requirement needed for the call center Andalso I need cost estimation for the entire setup Pease mail me on femstone2003yahoocom Thank youhope to hear from you as soon as possible from South Africa contact no 27780128044

Sandeep Kumar Saini said: Hi I am interested in setting up a world class call center like online solution of IT and Electrical with capacity of 20 or more peopleI have an Idea for this type of work so please suggest me the entire process and the requirement and the entire expenses related to set up a call center Expecting to read from you and reply as soon as possible Please contact me aasimatechgmaildisquscomWith RegardsSandeep Kumar Saini08930292111

Ambrish jaiswal said: Hi-I am interested in setting up a small rural call centre with seating capacity of 10 people Kindly guide me on the entire process and the requirements and the probable cost of the entire thingExpecting to read from you soon Plz contact me at ambrishjaiyahoocoinThanks

Akiluddin Ahmed said: i want to set up small call center in kolkata with atleast 5 peoplewhat hardware or software will be required for itFrom where i can get client listhow process goes in call centerwhat is the infrastructure and expenses required to set up the call center pls mail me on akiluddinahmedgmailcom

Vaibhav said: Hi sir I want to set up a call center atleast 10 seatedwhich will be more beneficial domestic or international and what will be the total cost for itreply me on vaibhavraj299gmailcom

Jaarushh said: hi i want to set up small call centre 5 seat please any one can help me how to do it from a-z thank youjaarushhgmailcom

Ray Winter said: I designed and built a 240 seat call centre based on 4 x STM4s linked to an Alcatel 4400 switch together with a very sophisticated Call Centre management software package which included full recording-of-calls facilities To operate an efficient service requires comprehensive and professional training of operatives and the availability of a very relaxing working environment as operatives do work under strenuous circumstances with unusual hours The busiest times of operations outside of normal day-time working hours we found to be between 1830 - 2015 and 2150 - 2300 hours The building had 7000 sqft of space and the total construction cost was just under 1 million Euros and included an indoor coffee shop as operatives needed frequent breaks Our software calculated when they were at their desks and they were paid according to the hours they spent onlineIt is important to rmember that call centre operatives speak on behalf of the companies they serve so all communications have to be very carefully managed so only the right information is given to incoming callers

Joe 63 said: Hello BenDo you have a good idea or an example of a a network design for a customer support center with 50 employees and 20 mobile users and all the equipment required for it

Bhanu said: want to set up small call center with minimum 10 seater what hardware and software will be required for itFrom where i can get client listhow process goes in call centerwhat is the infrastructure and expenses required to set up the cal center pls mail me asap bhanuprasad28gmailcom

Ashok said: I am interested in setting up a international call center for upto five operators Can somebodytell me how to go about

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