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In today’s professional world, customers want immediate response and timely results. Oftentimes, it is difficult to keep up with the demand being placed. Companies can become especially frustrated because they do not employ enough workers to perform the company’s tasks and interact with the customers at the same time. Fortunately, there is a solution. Companies can develop or outsource a call center, or a centralized place where all of the calls to a company are handled.

Q: What will a call center do for my small business?

A: Call centers help to save employees time so that they can improve their productivity and increase profit. For example, consider a bakery manager. The phone might be ringing off the hook with orders for goods. However, the more time spent on the phone is less manpower being used to make delicious cookies or cupcakes. In this situation, a call center could receive phone calls for the bakery and take orders. The employees could then bake the orders without being interrupted by other phone orders. The call center could also receive customer feedback that could lead to improving the business.

Q: How many people should my call center include?

A: Of course there is no one answer to this question. Every business has different needs. One variable is the call duration. Some businesses may have extended conversations with their customers to design custom packages. Others may be straightforward orders and the calls last only seconds. Another variable is the frequency of calls. How many calls are expected for a half-hour’s time? If the answer is in the hundreds, the business is certainly going to need more than one or two agents at the call center. The Erlang calculator was designed to determine how many agents are recommended and appropriate in different situations.

Q: What services do I want the call center to perform for my business?

A: The two major categories of call center services are customer service and sales. The latter is responsible for scheduling appointments, taking orders and interacting with marketers who wish to advertise with a company. Customer service support makes itself available for feedback from customers. They may also make outgoing calls to customers who have not left a response on their own. With some businesses they may act as dispatchers, improving communication between employees and making sure each is aware of their personal goals for the day. Customer service support doesn’t need to communicate exclusively with phones. They may also handle the e-mail for the company.

Q: Could I set up a call center from my own home or business?

A: It is absolutely possible and a rather economic decision to establish your own call center. However, it is not as simple as equipping a few people with phones. There are several factors that should be kept in mind.

  • First, it is important to have a space specially designated for the call center. This area should be out of the way from regular traffic. If the call center is out of the home, be sure it isn’t near a child’s bedroom or a family room that has a predisposition for being noisy. If at a business, it should not be affected by interference from the typical goings-on.
  • Secondly, agents should be using multi-line phone systems and headsets. This equipment can be expensive, especially in mass quantities, but be advised that when used for business it becomes tax deductible.
  • Also, be sure that all computers being used by agents have separate accounts for users. If a manager’s family uses the computer when it isn’t in use by agents, the files are at risk of being deleted or corrupted. The only person who should be able to access an agent’s account is that agent.
  • Finally, invest in comfortable and durable furniture. They will likely be used all throughout business hours and it is only right to provide agents with a proper work environment.

Q: What is the overall goal in hiring a call center for my business?

A: In a single sentence: A call center will serve as the primary point of contact for a business. The point of hiring a supplier is to make interactions with the business convenient and effective. The people who answer the phone are representative of the business so it is important to hire ones who are right for the job, not those who will do it for the least amount of money. Not all providers are created equal and finding the appropriate call center takes intense research. Before settling on a provider, consider the impact it will have on the company’s image.


Call Centre Helper: Download a free Erlang calculator compatible with Microsoft Excel.

Coaching: 9 steps to take when training new call center agents.

Call Center Mathematics: If you’re going to manage your own call center, you need to understand the Erlang formula and other algorithms.

Call Monitoring: How to implement a call monitoring system to determine if a representative is delivering excellence with their phone skills.

Effective Call Center Management (PDF): Learn what managerial techniques maintain effective agents and effective delivery.

Headsets: Call center agents need headsets. Find out more and shop for dealers here.

Home-based Telesales: Home-based telesales, call center, and CRM.

Setting up a Call Centre (PDF): A Singaporean article about the importance of a call center.