Outsourcing has become a mainstay of India’s services-led economy. This is indicated by the hundreds of tech-support customer care centres established by some of the biggest tech companies in major Indian cities.
These call centres’ success has much to do with the availability of English-speaking, technically adept graduates. Armed with a degree, such graduates can easily find their way around technology and add value through their work in these customer service call centres.
The past few years have witnessed an increased demand for tech-based call centres in the West, especially in the U.S and Europe. Opening off-shore call centres allow companies to save costs and offer efficient customer services at the same time.
This demand, therefore, has brought many Indian entrepreneurs, with an eye on establishing call centres that fit their sustainable business models, to the fore. These are also known as secondary and long-tail business ideas that offer business support or business support service.
This blog attempts to engage readers who aspire to start and run their own tech support call centres or online customer service. It aims to serve as a blueprint on getting started with a call centre as a primary new business idea for entrepreneurs. Here are the steps.
A step-by-step approach to starting a tech support customer care company
Step 1: Decide on goals
Have a business plan in place before starting your tech-support business. Your business plan should encompass the following – the kind of operations to be handled, processes that need to be implemented, the number of employees, and the costs you might incur.
In addition, a plan would also include your business structure, the long-term direction of the company, and a viable business idea communicated to interested stakeholders.
Having a business plan ready is always a great idea because it helps you break down your progress into smaller achievable steps. Remain flexible with the business plan for the scope to grow the business incrementally.
Step 2: Decide on the location
India has always been an outsourcing-friendly location, and there are many Indian states where entrepreneurs receive incentives for setting up their businesses. These include special economic zones, info parks, and software technology parks. These places also offer the necessary incentives to companies looking to establish tech-support enterprises.
Step 3: Deal with the paperwork
Once you have a business plan in place, it’s time for some crucial paperwork related to the business.
In India, you are required to register under the Companies Act, 2013, a law that regulates the responsibilities and scope of business firms’ operations. After that, you must register with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) to be certified as a valid BPO service provider in India.
As a tech support company, you should list yourself as a Private Limited Company and get the Other Service Provider (OSP) license from the Department of Telecommunications (DOT). After getting an OSP license, you are expected to register under the Goods and Services Tax based on the company’s tech-support services.
Step 4: Establish a budget
Running a tech support centre does not come cheap. There are recurring and one-time expenses that need to be taken care of. You will have to invest a lot of money in salaries, business registration fees, websites and digital marketing.
Besides these, you’ll also have to invest in regular administrative overheads for running an office, namely – office rent, electricity, other utility bills, internet charges, and replacing or buying office furniture, and so on.
Apart from an inbound call centre, you’ll have to rely heavily on knowledge databases and help desk software, and the company is expected to bear this cost.
Step 5: Invest in equipment and technology
Irrespective of the services offered, establishing a proper work environment is vital. This would require computers, office supplies, office furniture, high-speed internet connections, and workforce management tools.
Here are some of the tools you’ll need for a tech-enabled office:
- Messaging Tools
- Video Conferencing Tools
- Performance Tracking Tools
In an inbound call centre, making calls is fundamental to the business process. Hence, adequate infrastructure is necessary to handle the volume of calls. This calls for investment in specific technologies, which are:
- Private Branch Exchange (PBX): Physical phone lines are put in place
- Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange (IP PBX): Phones are routed over the internet
- Voice over Internet Protocol (Virtual VoIP): No hardware setup is required. Every call is made through an App on the desktop.
Lastly, you’ll also have to invest in Call Center Management Tools. These are mainly installed for:
- Managing Finances
- Client On-boarding
- Implement Business Ideas
Step 6: Hire the office staff
If you are just starting out as a company, it is better to start with 15-20 experienced individuals who require minimum training to get started. Once you start growing, you can hire more people and place the most experienced employees in supervisory and training-oriented roles.
- While hiring people, communication skills, and a knack for technical-problem solving should be your main criteria. It is ideal if candidates come with a technical background (academic or work experience) and a keen understanding of technology.
- It is in the company’s best interest to establish a recruitment process beforehand with a robust screening process to ensure only the right candidates get shortlisted and selected. In addition to these, make sure your candidates are empathetic, confident, and very attentive while carrying out their jobs.
- If getting it all done seems daunting, you can always partner with a recruitment agency to help you with the hiring process. They can ensure that you tap into the right talent pool for the job.
Step 7: Marketing for clients
Now that the business is up and running, it’s time to focus on marketing for garnering clients. Initially, all your marketing would be centred around the website. Hence having a fully-functional high-performance website that can generate traction amongst your target audience is advisable. This can be achieved through organic means (SEO) or paid advertising. Once you start generating leads, you can convert these into potential clients through your in-house sales team.
Besides this, you are expected to be active on all major social media platforms with valuable, meaningful, and relevant content for the target audience for good online visibility.
Every opportunity for the engagement should be utilised to build an active community and loyal followers on social media. Even if you are operating in a B2B space, never hold back from engaging actively on social media and other relevant platforms such as LinkedIn.
Starting a tech-support company isn’t rocket science. But one has to ensure a road map in place to get a call centre established. Without planning, all your efforts are likely to go astray. All the points mentioned above are some great ways to get started.
Setting up a call centre is no easy task, but knowing the process beforehand and having a plan can make things simpler for you.
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Q. What are the advantages of a tech-based call centre?
Ans. A tech-based call centre is also called an inbound call centre.
Instead of chasing customers, the agents receive calls from customers who use products from a specific tech company. They are then expected to sort out the problems over the phone or through other communication channels. The amount of work pressure is comparatively less than an outbound call centre where daily sales targets are accomplished.
Q. Is a tech-based call centre sustainable in the long-term?
Ans. Yes, tech-based call centres are far more sustainable, unlike outbound call centres where the client may cancel the contract and switch over. The chances of something like that happening in a tech-based call centre are quite remote.
However, getting a long-term client does involve a long sales cycle with multiple decision-makers at various levels in the client organisation.
Q. How critical is hiring in a tech-based call centre?
Ans. The process of hiring can make or break a call centre. And most times, the hiring process for a call centre takes place on a large scale (50-100 people).
The management has to ensure they hire the right candidate. Moreover, the attrition rate in call centres also remains quite high. Hence the HR department has to be reasonably competent at meeting the demands of the company.