New software and telecommunications options have revolutionized the customer service industry. It is now possible to outsource customer service to specialized companies that can provide service via phone, e-mail, chat window and even within online games. Web-based software can handle sophisticated call routing, integrated with a customer database. Since this largely removes the need for large and expensive hardware, it is also possible to create a distributed call center with agents working from remote locations and even their own homes.
Obtain financing. The overhead costs to set up a customer service company can vary widely depending upon whether you directly employ your workers and must provide benefits, how much you spend in marketing in order to secure your first customer, and whether you have an office and centralized equipment. (This may be required for clients with high security needs.) Obtain a bank loan or investment capital from friends, family or angel investors, making sure that you take enough funding to fully cover your costs until your business posts positive revenue and cash flow.
Purchase or license a customer relationship management (CRM) and call center software package. There are integrated options, such as provided by Salesforce.com, or higher end PBX hardware and software systems. (See Reference 3.) The easier your software is to use, the more efficient and productive your workers can be.
Secure a contract from a customer. When you are just starting out, you may target very small businesses who only need one or two customer service agents at a time and for whom you can provide an attractive pricing model. Establish a quarterly or annual contract in order to guarantee revenue for yourself.
Hire and train customer service agents. You will need to train agents on your company's standard of customer service quality, on using your software packages and on the specific products and services provided by your customers. In most cases you will need to pay agents for this training time, and may need to produce training booklets, videos and other materials.
Evaluate and upgrade your services. Call monitoring and reading your agents' emails to customers are a necessary part of quality control for your customer service company. You should also survey the customers that your agents have served to determine their level of satisfaction with the service quality. Finally, you should also follow up with your clients to ensure their needs are being fulfilled, and they are happy with your service. Constantly train, evaluate and motivate your employees to get consistently high results.
Evangeline Marzec is a management consultant to small high-tech companies, and has been in the video games industry since 2004. As a published writer since 1998, she has contributed articles and short stories to web and print media, including eHow and Timewinder. She holds a Master of Business Adminstration from Thunderbird School of Global Management.