1.2 Analyzing call center requirements 5
Chapter 1
A call center’s services can be essential for the smooth running of a busi-
ness. Once a call center is in place, it integrates technology from customer
databases, order-entry systems, fulfillment, and knowledge databases, en-
abling call center CSRs to respond with current information when commu-
nicating with customers. Technology provides many features to assist in the
communication process, including providing quick access to customer
information for the CSR and call management (transfer, voice response,
messaging, etc.)
1.2 Analyzing call center requirements
There are many aspects to designing and developing a call center operation,
including selecting the location, telephone equipment, networking equip-
ment, and software. This combination of technologies and the complexity
of integrating all elements effectively and economically present a challenge
to the call center development team.
Building a call center internally may be feasible only for very large
enterprises—smaller companies should consider outsourcing their call cen-
ters to organizations that specialize in providing these services and already
have the latest technologies installed and operating, with trained staff.
These organizations can often provide excellent customer-oriented services,
relieving smaller organizations of the financial, managerial, and human
resources issues involved in an internal, corporate call center. Calculating
the overall budget for the project will determine whether to build and man-
age a call center internally or to outsource some or all of the operations to
keep costs down and focus on customer retention. Building a call center
can run to several million dollars in capital equipment alone, not to men-
tion the cost of hiring staff and managing the day-to-day operations.
With the Internet and potentially rapid response opportunities, new
ways for customers to reach companies—e-mail, Web chat, and voice over
Internet Protocol (VoIP)—have been added to the traditional forms of
communication. To prepare for these multiple communications media and
to efficiently serve customers, companies need to capture information from
across the enterprise and consolidate customer-related data into a central
database. In most cases, customer data resides in many systems, such as
order history, fulfillment, shipping, and billing. The number of sources of
data can reduce the ability of CSRs to handle requests and can also contribute
to errors and duplication. For corporations to handle these multiple cus-
tomer contact channels effectively, integrating the varied systems is essen-
tial. Its call center facility requires carefully selected technology tools.
6 1.2 Analyzing call center requirements
A complete analysis of the technology and human relations components
of a call center reveals a number of planning and selection challenges for the
project team charged with development, management, and maintenance of
the call center operation. It also highlights the major issues to be addressed
for the start-up and on-going management of the center. This analysis will
involve the following major activities:
Location and size
Staffing and training
Communication channels
Monitoring and measuring performance
Call management and handling
Integrated call centers
Location and size
A first step in implementing a call center is to decide on the location of the
facility. Whether it is a small department in a local facility or a large, enter-
prisewide center, this step is important to corporate growth and the bottom
line, so it must be planned carefully. The high cost of real estate in popu-
lous areas is driving many call center operations to locate in rural areas.
This is especially true throughout North America, where call centers are
concentrated in several regions of the United States, as well as in Canada.
With the communication and computer technology available today, it is
very easy to locate call centers in any area where high-speed, high-quality
communication resources are available, and many organizations have made
this choice.
The size of the call center refers not only to square footage but also to
the number of CSRs required, telephony and LAN equipment, client desk-
tops, and other switching and computer hardware. Because call centers usu-
ally grow in size, it is a sound planning practice to choose a site with room
for expansion.
As noted previously in this chapter, there is a wide range of technologies
available to the call center development team, as well as many sources of
excellent advice—consultants, vendors, and users with experience in call

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