Knowledge Library

So you want to start a call centre

Call Centres and Telemarketing

Written by:
Sipho Zungu (CEO CallingtheCape)
Rod Jones (CEO C3Africa)

Over the course of the last five years, there has been a great deal of interest in South Africa as a call centre destination. This heightened sense of optimism has resulted in a number of entrepreneurs entering the industry.

With the recession driving more and more investment to South Africa, the opportunities are out there, but how does one limit the risks involved when starting up your own call centre.

Research is imperative, before entering into any business, you need to understand the market you are in; who are your competitors, where are the opportunities, what line of business should you enter, and is there a greater need for inbound/outbound calls?

The only way to answer these questions is through research, become an expert. Read books, articles, white papers, blogs, listen to podcasts/vodcasts, use any media available to give you the competitive edge.

Training is equally important. Go on courses and attend relevant conferences/talks. If you don't have the budget to do these, look for free alternatives online. The tools are out there it is just a case of using them.

Develop and review your strategic business plan
Successful businesses are built around good planning. A good strategic business plan provides direction and helps break goals into manageable targets. Know what your goals are and make sure you have steps in place to reach them.

The call centre industry is always changing with new technologies and products entering the market. -To avoid getting left behind, it is important to constantly revaluate your business plan. The moment you rest on your laurels, you will get left behind.

Sound Financial Planning
If you are after a quick buck, the contact centre industry is probably not the best place to be. Most contact centres generally take anywhere from 12 to 18 months just to break even. If you want to be a successful you need to have patience.

Don't rush things; build your way up slowly. Rather be conservative and employ 20 staff running at full capacity, as opposed to 50 staff in the hope that you might get another contract.

If you are a new call centre, avoid Total Risk Remuneration, if you do not have the experience and a proven track record, the risks with these and other similar contracts will virtually always outweigh the benefits.

Conclude Alliances & Partnerships
Create partnerships with existing operations, if you don't have the skills, look for someone who does. Use the knowledge of those around you to guide you through the process. Consult with industry bodies (CallingtheCape, BPESA); use their knowledge to help build yours. Sharing risk is always important particularly when starting a new business, if possible look to partner with someone either involved in the industry or someone with contacts.

Build and Manage
If you want to succeed, start small and put in the extra hours. Constantly build your knowledge base and never stop learning. Most importantly, have set procedures in place and make sure they are carried out throughout the organisation.

The opportunities are there, but if you rush in without a proper plan, you will be setting yourself up for failure.

About CallingtheCape
CallingtheCape is a Section 21 company that promotes Cape Town and its surrounding areas as destinations for national and international investment in contact centres and business process outsourcing. Formed in 2001, CallingtheCape is funded by member contributions as well as by local and provincial governments.

Editorial details
Sipho Zungu
Cell: 082 494 8447
Tel: 021 4190033

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