If you’ve decided to embark on a business venture and establish an outsourcing contact center, but have no prior experience, I must bear some unfortunate news. It’s true, there is ample information available online on the technical and organizational structuring of a contact center. However, three fundamental questions are often left unanswered: the construction of the center, the sequence of operations, the economic aspects, and where to find clients. Fully addressing these queries would require a comprehensive and exhaustive book, but I will endeavour to offer a compact explanation on the first point to provide a grasp of the situation. If certain details remain unclear, it may simply be due to limitations in the format of this article which does not allow for a thorough breakdown to the most basic level. I apologize in advance for any inconveniences. Please, take my word for it. Just trust a guy who has been entrenched in outsourcing business for 18 years, both as an agent and a manager.
The Correct Sequence of Actions to Establish an Outsourcing Contact Center
First, decide why you need an outsourcing call center. In this field, burning your nerves and those around you is like outplaying an old man in active games. I started graying at 24. The call center industry is very susceptible to external influences. From laws and financial crises to weather events. If you’re calling individuals and there’s a storm, the call through rate will be statistically significantly worse than in good weather. By the way, being very susceptible, means exactly that. In November 2008, the company I was responsible for technology development in, lost half its workload in two days due to clients urgently withdrawing their volumes because of the crisis. This situation would have inevitably killed a small outsourcing player. We survived, but it was a huge shake-up.
Firstly, the market has already solidified, and breaking into it will be extremely challenging – large and medium-sized customers have already been scooped up. What’s left are, let’s say, graduates of various business schools, whom I call “leads, leads, give me leads, I only pay for results”.
Another problem is that you, as the owner, will have to personally sell the services of your company. No other methods will yield sustainable results, here internet marketing doesn’t work to attract serious deals, packaging too, by the way. You’ll only lose a little bit of money. You should see the website of the company that won the Russian Post tender for 450 agent slots. Even my three-year-old daughter could do better. But they won. And the packaged ones are collecting “leads, give me leads”. Sales are personal only. If you’re afraid or don’t know how, or are hoping for a competent commercial director, then don’t. It won’t work. “Oh, how many have fallen into this abyss”.
On the plus side, if you’re a guy, there will always be women around, lots of women. A lot really means a lot. And among them, there are some very beautiful ones, despite the low level of agent salaries. But in general, there are calmer businesses, for example, the shawarma from Uncle Ashot. In short, think ten times before …
Think about it. The odds are definitely worse than in the catering industry. If I haven’t dissuaded you by now, we’ll assume that you know why you need this. So listen up. In various business schools, they teach that you should start with a business plan. This is because you can order a business plan from them. And pay for it. But if you plan to build a contact center, you should use every penny wisely, not greedily, but wisely. The economy of small contact centers is very unstable, a slight shake in the workload (Workload is the product of the number of calls over a period on average contact processing time) – and you are out of money. To my subordinates, I always said: “When we say money, we imply an outsourced contact-center – and we mean money”. A business plan, or rather a financial plan, will be needed, but later. For now, you need some literature, for example, “100% Call Center” by Alexandra Samolyubova. Take it and try to understand, at least roughly, how this works. In principle, it is written well and in understandable language. You can read my articles, I’ve written a lot on the subject.
Find a job in a contact center and work for at least a couple of months. And then – in another. For example, first in a bank, and then in-
Imagine an e-commerce shop with 10 spots. By the way, the profit of the shop itself can be measured in really large numbers, but you have to see what these 10 spots are and how enthusiastically the supervisor calculates your salary for submission to the accounting, I guarantee. And there will be many more wonders, I assure you. Just make sure to position yourself in a way where you’ll be able to commute to the office. And try yourself in different roles: in sales, and in service. This advice will save you a ton of money as the founder of a new company.
By the way, the worst time of year to build a Contact Center is spring. Launch and you’ll face it immediately, the customer activity will decrease. The same will happen with the willingness to work for you. Therefore, it’s optimal to start in July, so you can catch the wave and be ready for fall, which is the best season for our industry. For your information, the average sales cycle with a rather serious customer is 3-4 weeks from the positive negotiation outcome. Of course, there are exceptions, but this is the average case scenario.
If you’re still with me, let’s get straight to the meat and potatoes, to the second part of my story on how not to waste your money and create an outsourcing contact center.
Independent consultant on the creation and management of contact centers