The opportunity of the contact centre market
Across the UK and Ireland, the call centre market is hotly contested by a variety of operators, ranging from large, international companies to small, independent businesses. These companies provide a wide range of services, including inbound and outbound call centre services, customer service, technical support, and sales.
There is also a significant segment of the sector that may be described as a concentration of smaller, independent call centres that provide more specialised services.
The trend for outsourcing non-core business functions has seen many businesses opt for an external specialist to provide contact centre services, steadily driving growth in recent years. Covid has also driven demand as companies expanded capability to meet the needs of business and personal customers seeking sales, support and service through lockdowns.
The UK and Ireland call centre market has also been driven by advancements in technology such as VoIP voice calling, cloud infrastructure, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, which have helped the industry improve efficiency, reduce costs and offer more value-added services.
This mix of demand and ongoing technological development means the UK and Ireland contact centre market holds considerable opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators, or other motivated and interested parties that might wish to know more about starting or running a contact centre business.
This also includes established businesses that want to add call centre capabilities to improve services for existing customers, or to start a new line of business; new market entrant startup ventures; or existing contact centre professionals that want to improve their knowledge of processes, systems and software.
How to plan and set up a call centre
The key steps in designing, setting up and preparing your contact centre to become operational are:
- Business plan – As with any enterprise, it is imperative to define your business objectives. Clearly define your objectives and the specific reasons for setting up a contact centre. An important part of the business plan is to set out whether your contact centre is for inbound calls to handle customer sales and service and support queries, outbound calls for marketing and sales campaigning, or a hybrid of inbound and outbound.
- Target market – Determine your target market for your contact centre, including the specific demographics and customer needs that your centre will serve. This will help you to design and define the type of services the business will offer.
- Run the numbers – Set out the potential cost, revenue and Return On Investment (ROI) of setting up a contact centre. This will help you to determine if the business is financially viable and if there is enough demand for the services that you plan to offer.
- A detailed plan – With a clear understanding of your business objectives and the target market you can develop a detailed plan for setting up your contact centre. This includes the services that will be offered, staffing requirements, technology requirements, and budget.
- Where? – Decide on a location for your contact centre or if it should be remote, by considering factors such as cost, availability of skilled workforce, accessibility, and local regulations.
- Communication technology and infrastructure – Establish the communication infrastructure, including telephone lines, internet connections, and computer systems, that will be needed to run contact centre operations.
- Hire and train your team – Recruit, hire and train the staff that will be needed to run your contact centre, including customer service representatives, supervisors, and managers.
- Test and debug – Conduct a test run of your operations before launching the contact centre to ensure you are ready to go live. Check all systems are functioning properly and that agents are fully trained and able to handle customer interactions.
- Quality management – Improve the running of your contact centre by continuously monitoring and analysing performance, gathering feedback and making improvements as necessary. Holistically across the business, this includes areas such as customer service quality, data security, and compliance with regulations.
The technologies needed to run a call centre
A mix of voice systems, computer systems and software is required to run a contact centre:
- Phone systems – Today’s phone systems are often digital voice call platforms that use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and cloud-based virtual switchboard software technologies. This uses a broadband connection instead of telephone lines for connectivity. While some contact centres still operate legacy systems utilising on-premise contact centre hardware, many have switched or were set up on VoIP platforms in the cloud.
- Computer hardware systems – Contact centres use a variety of computer systems to handle voice calls and manage data. These systems can include desktop computers, laptops, and servers.
- CRM software – Contact centres also use specialised software such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to provide and maintain information about customer contact details and interaction history such as sales, service and support activities.
- Call management software – Tools to run the voice call part of your contact centre operations, including outbound campaign management, auto dialling and agent reporting of call outcomes.
- Resource management software – Often, as part of the VoIP voice call platform, software for workforce management allows resource (agents) to be assigned to inbound or outbound call queues.
- Automation software – A VoIP platform may also use automation software such as an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) feature to help welcome callers, manage customer interactions and improve efficiency.
- AI software predictive dialler – An AI powered predictive dialler boosts efficiency and maximises the success of outbound campaigning. The best solution accelerates call rates while maintaining the call abandonment rate in-line with regulatory requirements.
- Reporting, analytics and quality management software – Reporting and analysis are critical to managing the quality of service provided by your contact centre. Tracking the overall performance of contact centre operations, the performance of agents and teams, and identifying trends and patterns in customer interactions are all important aspects of quality management.
The benefit of an integrated contact centre toolset
The best VoIP-based cloud solutions simplify contact centre technology by providing a suite of call and resource management, automation and reporting tools. This means you don’t have to use or integrate different products from different vendors. The integration is already done and you can get started with your call centre much more quickly. This type of approach is known as contact centre as a service (CCaaS).
The main roles needed for operating and starting a contact centre
There is a need to hire and retain a wide range of skills and experience if you are to successfully build a contact centre business. The training needs of your contact centre team are ongoing, as products, services, technologies, compliance and regulatory requirements are continually evolving and a regular program of updating skills and knowledge should be put in place.
- Agents – Agents or Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) are the frontline staff who handle customer interactions, provide information, answer questions, and resolve complaints. They need to have excellent communication skills, perform well under pressure, and be able to handle difficult customers. They also need excellent knowledge about the products or services offered by the company. Their ongoing training needs to cover these areas, as it will require updating and refinement.
- Supervisors – Team leaders and supervisors are responsible for managing agents and ensuring that they are providing high-quality customer service. They need to have strong leadership and management skills, the ability to handle difficult situations, and practice data-driven decision making. They also need to be knowledgeable about the products or services offered by the company.
- Quality Assurance specialists – Quality Assurance (QA) specialists are responsible for monitoring and evaluating the quality of customer interactions. They need to have excellent attention to detail, be able to analyse data, and be able to provide constructive feedback to agents.
- IT staff – IT workers are responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting the technology and software. They need a strong grounding in computer systems, networks, and software. Contact centres that are operated using a VoIP contact centre platform often receive support directly from the platform owner/operator, reducing the support overhead on contact centre IT staff.
- Managers – Managers oversee the overall operation of your contact centre, helping ensure it remains on track for achieving the business objectives. Managers need to have strong leadership, management and data analysis skills which they use to drive their decision making.
Precise requirements may vary, depending on the specific services or the market your data centre operates in. However, generally speaking, the people you hire need to have strong communication and problem-solving skills, the ability to work well under pressure, and the ability to analyse and make decisions based on data.
Best practices for running a successful call centre
Owning and managing a contact centre is hard work. But as a business opportunity, it has the potential to bring significant rewards. To ensure you maximise your returns, it is essential to follow best practices. There are regulatory requirements that can result in heavy financial penalties, as well as operational obstacles, both of which could undermine success and profitability.
- HR – Get your approach to staffing right for recruiting, hiring, training, and managing a team of agents (CSRs), supervisors, and managers to handle inbound and outbound calls.
- Technology – Make sure your technology ‘stack’ – the mix of hardware and software systems you select – for computing, voice calls, managing calls, tracking customer interactions, and managing data are properly implemented, integrated and maintained.
- Quality Assurance – Implement a robust process for monitoring and evaluating customer interactions with agents and apply continual improvement practices so that customer interactions can be optimised to provide a great customer experience (CX).
- Reporting and analytics – Be on top of performance management through the key data that matters by using reporting and analytics for tracking and understanding key performance metrics, such as call volume, customer satisfaction, and agent productivity, to identify trends, areas for improvement and measure the success of the contact centre.
- Compliance – Observe your compliance obligations by adhering to key regulatory instruments, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that ensure customer data is protected and handled in accordance with the law.
- Business Continuity – Developing and maintaining technology systems and procedural plans aimed at keeping the show on the road when unexpected disruptions occur so that you can continue to operate the contact centre in the event of an emergency.
- Reviewing strategy – Designing a successful business strategy is an evolutionary process. Your strategic plan needs to be revised to incorporate the outputs from reporting and analysis, changes in the regulatory framework, as well as the marketplace and the operating environment.
Conclusion and more resources for starting a contact centre
In conclusion, running a successful contact centre requires strong leadership, excellent communication and organisational skills, and a deep understanding of customer service and the industry.
Some other sources of industry information include:
Quvu contact centre solutions are delivered in partnership with you
Within Quvu, we have over a decade of experience in designing and setting up contact centres. We understand that every business has unique needs, and that’s why we don’t just offer off-the-shelf software. Instead, we take the time to fully customise a contact centre solution to fit your specific requirements.
We pride ourselves on not just providing software, but a complete ‘software-with-a-service‘ solution. Our team of experts will work with you every step of the way, from design to implementation, to ensure that your contact centre is tailored to your business needs and goals.
Book a personalised demo to see what Quvu can do for your contact centre.
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