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I want to start a home-based call center. Can you give me some advice for getting started? What can I expect in terms of start-up costs? And how can I find companies that might want to outsource to my business?

I want to start a home-based call center. Can you give me some advice for getting started? What can I expect in terms of start-up costs? And how can I find companies that might want to outsource to my business?

3/25/2010

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Question
I want to start a home-based call center. Can you give me some advice for getting started? What can I expect in terms of start-up costs? And how can I find companies that might want to outsource to my business?

Answer

To start up a home-based call center you will need to address and manage the same three fundamentals as any contact center outsourcer: people, process and technology.

In terms of the technology, all contact centers, including those providing remote agent support, require contact center infrastructure. Contact center infrastructure delivery models include license-based solutions where customers purchase a perpetual license and pay an annual maintenance fee, or a hosted model in which users pay a monthly, annual or multi-year “rental” fee to use the technology. Purchasing a product will run about $2,500 to $5,000 per seat, depending on the features that you want. Hosting costs anywhere from $15 per agent/seat/month to $150 per agent/seat/month. The contact center products vary in terms of depth and scope of functionality, so you will need to decide which services you want to provide and choose the solution and delivery model that balances your functional requirements with budgetary constraints.

The second major challenge is hiring, training and managing remote contact center agents, who, most likely, will be geographically dispersed. These issues, along with many others, can be properly addressed for remote agents, but this requires non-traditional approaches. The current generation of contact center workforce optimization suites includes capabilities that help address many of the management challenges created by a remote work force. Workforce optimization solutions can reliably support recording, monitoring, training and coaching, to enhance the skills and performance of at-home agents. I suggest that you take a look at two DMG white papers on this topic, At-home Agent Business Case, and Best Practices and Call Center At-Home Agent Best Practices.

Getting the first customers is hard for many new businesses, since they lack a track record and reference accounts. I suggest that you research the players in the market and then try to find your niche. There are close to 80 active outsourcers in the North American market and many additional competitors offshore. Try to identify industries/functions/organizations where you can bring some special expertise or have established connections.

For more in-depth information about every aspect of setting up and managing a contact center, I suggest that you read the book, The Real-Time Contact Center. (available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com). This book provides a complete roadmap for creating a world-class contact center. It addresses strategy, technology, management, people and process and provides best practices for achieving success.

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