How To Start a Call Center (8-Step Guide)

March 31, 2024 12 min read

Dominic Kent

Dominic Kent

How To Start a Call Center - Guide for Launching a New Call Center in 7 Steps

Starting a call center can be a rewarding venture, but it’s important to have a clear plan before diving in. While it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, you need to consider several key factors to deliver an excellent customer experience and run a successful call center business.

With this guide, we’ll walk you through these steps and more, providing all the information and business ideas you need to set up productive and profitable call center operations.

8 Steps To Starting a Successful Call Center

Here’s a breakdown of the key steps to ensure a smooth launch and a successful operation. Let’s start with identifying the type of call center (or contact center) you want to start.

1. Choose your call center type

The first thing to figure out is where your team will be calling from. There are three main options, each with its own perks and challenges:

types of call centers

So, which one’s right for you? It all boils down to your priorities.

👉 If you want more physical control and have the budget, an on-premise center might work.

👉 A virtual setup is ideal for budget-conscious small businesses and startups seeking flexibility, including the ability to have agents across different time zones.

👉 And if you want to provide an omnichannel customer experience across multiple channels, then an omnichannel contact center could be the way to go — whether you build an in-house team or outsource to a call center company.

Related: What Is a Call Center and How Do They Work?

2. Define your call purpose and goals

Before diving headfirst, take a moment to define your call center’s purpose and set some clear goals. This will be your business plan to success.

First things first, decide what kind of calls your center will handle.

Inbound call centers are those where customers reach out to you for help (think troubleshooting or order inquiries). Outbound call centers involve your team reaching out to others (like for sales, telemarketing, or market research). A blended center tackles both inbound and outbound operations.

Next, determine the services you’ll offer. Will your call center focus on customer support, sales, technical support/help desk, or a combination of these? Knowing your service focus will help you decide who to hire and how to structure your operations.

Vague goals like “be awesome” won’t cut it. Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals (SMART goals for short). This could involve aiming for high customer satisfaction rates, faster call resolution times, or exceeding sales targets.

💡Tip: Do your research. See other call center companies and industry benchmarks for metrics like average handle time (how long a call typically lasts) and first call resolution rate (how often an issue is solved on the first call). This will help you set realistic goals for your own call center.

3. Plan your budget

Building a sustainable call center requires careful budgeting so be smart with your money. Here’s a breakdown of the key costs to consider:

💡Tip: Get quotes from different vendors for everything from phone systems to call center software and headsets. Consider cloud-based solutions — they can be more scalable and potentially save you money in the long run.

4. Choose the right technology

You’ve got your strategy figured out, now it’s time to deck out your call center with the right technology. The right tech keeps your agents happy and productive and enhances your customer experience.

💡Tip: Don’t go overboard with complicated software. Choose something scalable to fit your needs and easy for your agents to learn. Many vendors like Nextiva offer demos, so take advantage of those to test-drive the software before you commit.

nextiva call center software

5. Build your team

Your call center is only as good as the people working in it. That’s why building a fantastic team is crucial. Here’s how to make it happen:

When recruiting call center agents, target those with exceptional communication skills — they should be able to explain complex things clearly and listen attentively to customer needs.

Problem-solving skills are a must too, and a natural knack for providing friendly and helpful customer service is the cherry on top. Look for candidates with experience in similar roles like cold calling or those who seem to have a natural ability to connect with people.

Once you’ve assembled your dream team, equip them with the knowledge they need to perform better. Develop a comprehensive training program that covers everything from in-depth product knowledge to call center best practices.

Agents should also understand your call center’s workflows and protocols inside and out. Have a knowledge base handy and easily accessible for them.

how to succeed in a call center role

When working in your call center, employees should feel valued and supported. Create a positive work environment with opportunities for growth and development to keep your team motivated and improve agent retention.

💡Tip: Don’t stop learning once the initial training is done. Invest in ongoing coaching and development programs to keep your agents’ skills sharp. Consider using gamification techniques (think points and contests!) to make learning fun and keep your team motivated.

6. Design efficient workflows

Streamlined workflows are key to consistent, high-quality service. Here’s how to create a system that keeps your call center running smoothly:

Call Center QA Example of Call Recording

💡Tip: When designing your workflows, don’t forget about your customers. Gather their feedback and look for ways to streamline processes and reduce wait times based on their suggestions. After all, a happy customer is a loyal customer.

7. Promote your call center services

Alright, your call center is up and running smoothly. Now it’s time to get the word out there and attract potential customers who need your services. Let’s look at a few ideas:

Outbound call center functions

💡Tip: Speaking the same language as your clients is key. Tailor your marketing messages to their specific needs and challenges. For example, if you’re targeting e-commerce businesses, highlight your experience in handling high volumes of customer inquiries during peak seasons.

8. Continuously monitor and improve

Launching a call center is a big accomplishment, but it grows over time.

Regularly analyze call center metrics to see what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement. Is your average handle time a little high? Are customers dropping off during phone calls? These metrics can point you in the right direction for improvement.

Don’t be afraid to adapt your workflows based on what you learn. Customer feedback is important too – listen to what they’re saying and use it to refine your processes. Industry best practices are constantly evolving, so stay up-to-date and be open to incorporating new strategies.

It’s good to keep an eye on the latest call center technologies and see how they can benefit your business. Maybe it’s a new kind of software that automates repetitive tasks, or a tool that uses AI to personalize the customer experience. Embrace new tech that can give you an edge.

Last but not least, create a culture where continuous improvement is encouraged. Call center managers should hold regular team meetings to discuss performance metrics and get feedback from your agents. They’re on the front lines interacting with customers every day, so their insights are valuable.

New ideas are always welcome — you never know what you might discover.

💡Tip: Schedule regular team huddles to discuss performance metrics and brainstorm improvement ideas. This is a great way to keep everyone engaged and motivated to reach new heights.

Key Call Center Challenges (+ How To Overcome Them)

Even the most meticulously planned call center can face challenges. Make sure to consider common roadblocks and navigate them to efficiently set up your call center.

1. Recruiting and retaining top talent

One big challenge is finding and keeping good staff. The call center industry has a high turnover rate.

Offer competitive pay and benefits, along with opportunities for career growth. Create a positive work environment that values employees’ well-being and work-life balance.

You can also use gamification and recognition programs to keep agents motivated. When you advertise for new hires, highlight your company culture and career development opportunities.

2. Maintaining high agent morale

Repetitive tasks, lots of calls, and frustrated customers can lead to burnout.

Empower agents by giving them some control over their work and the ability to solve problems, not just follow scripts. Let them take breaks and offer schedule flexibility.

Celebrate successes and recognize both individual and team achievements. Regularly ask agents for their feedback to see how things are going and what can be improved.

3. Delivering exceptional customer service

It can be tough to meet customer expectations, especially when dealing with complex issues or upset callers.

Provide agents with in-depth training on your products or services, as well as effective communication and de-escalation techniques. Help them resolve issues efficiently by focusing on first-call resolution rates.

How to improve FCR

Regularly ask customers for their feedback and use it to improve your service approach. Empower agents to offer small gestures of goodwill to resolve customer issues and create a positive experience.

4. Keeping up with technology

The call center landscape is constantly changing with new tools and systems emerging all the time. It can be expensive and time-consuming to stay ahead of the curve.

Set aside a budget to regularly evaluate and implement new technologies. Consider cloud-based solutions that are easy to scale and upgrade.

Encourage a culture of innovation and empower agents to suggest new technologies that can improve efficiency or customer experience.

Make sure to partner with a reliable call center technology vendor who can provide smooth onboarding, ongoing support, and guidance.

Scale up with contact center AI.

All conversations in one platform. Empowering agents. Satisfying customers.

5. Adapting to changing customer needs

What customers want and how they want to connect with you is constantly evolving. If your call center doesn’t adapt, you might see a decline in customer satisfaction.

For example, millennials are more likely to use text messaging than wait in a call queue. Likewise, if your business serves the elderly, it’s a safe bet that they’re less likely to contact you via social media channels than making a phone call.

Offer omnichannel support so customers can connect with you through their preferred channel, whether it’s phone, email, chat, or social media.

Customer feedback through surveys and social media monitoring helps you understand customers’ evolving needs and preferences. Be prepared to adjust your service offerings and communication strategies accordingly.

Also, train agents to handle inquiries across multiple channels and provide a seamless customer experience regardless of how a customer chooses to connect.

It Starts With the Right Call Center Software

Call center solution

Launching a call center doesn’t have to be hard. Historically, it used to involve weeks — several months — of installation long before the first call arrived. 

Now, with the power of cloud-based communications, you can spin up a new call center in hours. After you plan call flows and team workflows, the rest is a breeze. 

When you start a call center, top features include softphones, IVR, automatic call distribution, skill-based call routing, and call recording.

Align shiny new call center features with your business needs. That is, not everyone needs all the bells and whistles when starting out. 

After you’ve determined the type of call center you need and the types of customer calls you’ll handle, partner with your call center provider so they can help you achieve these goals, including helpful ideas to do it faster.

For a cloud-based call center with many features that scale when you need to, check out Nextixa’s VoIP call center solution.


Ready to start a call center? Read some of the FAQs to better inform your setup.

Do I need a physical location or can I run a virtual call center? 

The decision depends on your budget and call volume. A physical call center offers a centralized workspace but requires investment in office space, furniture, and IT infrastructure. Virtual call centers are more flexible and cost-effective, with agents working remotely. They rely on cloud-based technology and require minimal upfront investment.

What kind of call center software do I need, and how much will it cost?

The type of software depends on your call center’s functionality. Essential features include automatic call distributor (ACD) to route calls efficiently, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) for self-service options, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integrations for agent visibility into customer data. Costs vary depending on features, number of users, and vendor. Researching and comparing pricing options from different vendors is crucial when choosing call center software.

Here’s a quick guide on call center pricing.

How can I ensure my call center is compliant with data security regulations? 

Data security is paramount. Familiarize yourself with relevant regulations (e.g., PCI DSS) and implement safeguards. Invest in secure technology, employee training on data handling procedures, and robust data encryption methods.

What metrics should I track to measure the success of my call center? 

Here are some essential metrics to monitor call center performance:
Average handle time (AHT): Measures how long a call typically lasts.
First call resolution rate (FCR): Indicates how often an issue is solved on the first call.
Customer satisfaction scores: Gauge customer sentiment about their experience.
Agent performance metrics: Track individual agent performance (call volume, wait times) to identify areas for improvement.

Regularly analyze call center data and use it to refine processes, improve agent training, and enhance the overall customer experience.

Dominic Kent


Dominic Kent

Dominic Kent is a content marketer specializing in unified communications and contact centers. After 10 years of managing installations, he founded UC Marketing to bridge the gap between service providers and customers. He spends half of his time building content marketing programs and the rest writing on the beach with his dogs.

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