Setting Up Call Center Business in Nigeria + SAMPLE BUSINESS PLAN
The call center business in Nigeria became popularized with the coming of the telecom industry. The need to report issues, verify services/products or make purchase products by customers, became greater. Other sectors such as the banking sector, hospitality and other multinationals benefitted from the call center business.
Even with this, Nigeria has not been able to maximize her potential on a global scale. Global brands continue to outsource a number of operations to reduce their workload, while allowing them focus more on core areas. It has been known to save cost and increase efficiency among others.
The human resource population in the country is great. In fact Nigeria is the 7th most populated and the second fastest growing country in the world which gives us prominence. There seems to be a skill gap as well as challenges that continue to affect businesses according to some indices. The plus Nigeria has is that the bulk of the population is English speaking. It is possible to take advantage of the call center global market, exchanging service for forex.
Everything about the call center business centers on customer service. The most sought call center solutions in Nigeria are:
- Help desk
- Technical Troubleshooting
- Inbound sales
- Market research and surveys
It is always important to remember that you are in the service business. The implication of this is that profiting and survivability depends on the efficiency of your service delivery. The quality of service hinges directly on customer satisfaction.
It is important to carry out a feasibility study and relevant researches and surveys to assist in analyzing processes, operations as well as challenges that will be faced in the running of the call center. The feasibility study should also be in line with the type of solution the center will be rendering. This study and analysis will assist in having clearer goals that fall within your budget. There is also an advantage of understudying existing service centers that have been in the business for a while. This will make you better appraise choices available to you with regard to service solutions, challenges and management practices.
The next thing to do is register your business. Registering businesses in Nigeria is carried out with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC. There is a branch in every state capital in the federation, including federal capital territory. It has also become much easier to register businesses on their website.
Operating licenses that allow you to operate within states should also be acquired. This will prevent you from having issues with tax agencies and related associations.
There are equipment, furniture and other supplies that are necessary for smooth operations. Among them are generator set, desktops, internet service, servers and routers, backup for power and server, phones, headsets, stationery for administrative purposes as well as relevant call center software that will assist in managing calls and keeping track of data and inbound and outbound call logs.
The location of the business is usually not an issue, but it must be able to accommodate staff and equipment. Also it must be accessible to staff and technicians that will frequent the site. The size of your office is dependent on the scale of the business you intend operating.
If you are looking at running the center for large companies, you will need a large area to carter for workspace of your staff. It is not like the space they need per person is large but it is good for staff to have a comfortable workstation as they could be in one position for long hours.
Getting things right from the start is very critical in this business. To get this done, you need the right personnel on the job. Training staff is also essential.
The two categories of staff needed for the call center are the agents, who attend to customers directly and the support staff. The support staff will include the management and technical staff. The agents would normally have supervisors. The requirement for each of these categories is dependent on the services you are rendering, and the clients’ requirement.
Human resource management is critical in the call center business. This is because you continue to manage the agents who are expected to be working at close to 100% so long as they are on duty. Finance management is also a vital aspect. In reality, one should be able to break even within two and half to three years of operation. This will not be possible if shrewdness is not employed.
Technical staff and agents will normally run in shifts. Shifts should not last for more than 8 hours. Management would normally dictate those terms. Since the business is an outsourced outfit, most decisions are made to suit the parent company. A call center would normally run 24/7. No customer would want to hear that you are closed. In fact the best call center outfits do not keep clients waiting for long before they are transferred to an agent.
Training could and should continue on the job in most cases to reflect changes in operations. It is important that agents are polite and fluent in the language in which they communicate. They also need to be able to maintain healthy temperament as some customers could be overtly verbal and abusive. Whichever way, there must be clear guidelines on how a call is to be handled.
Nigeria is a multi-lingual nation, but most citizens speak either of the three major languages apart from the lingua franca. These languages are Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. A vast population of Nigerians speak pidgin quite fluently, even the educated ones. You may find yourself needing to employ call agents that are multi-lingual to carter for the diverse languages.
Your employee choice is largely dependent on the frequency of you communicating with your direct clientele. If you are outsourced to handle the needs of only fluent English speakers, then, the logical choice will be to employ fluent English speaking call agents.
Due to the high unemployment rate in the country, it is easy to recruit graduates of higher institution as staff, who would have either an HND or 1st Degree in their respective fields. It is important to also employ staff that have experience in call center procedures and policies as supervisors. Supervisors also must be approachable but firm in handling those under them.
Setting up the Call Centre
It is expected that funds needed for starting and running of the call center would have been sourced. Funds could be from personal savings, partnership or loans that would be paid back. The funds should fall within the budget for capital recurrent and expenditure.
There are four types of call centers, each with its own distinctive characteristic and complexity. They include;
- In House Call Center: This is a call center that delivers customer service to only one company.
- Inbound Call Center: This is a center that is operated for the purpose of attending to calls from customers from more than one business.
- Outbound Call Center: This is a center that is operated for the purpose of corresponding with clients through the telephone.
- Outsource Call Center: This is a center that is operated for the purpose offering services for clients of other companies.
You need to determine how your business will be set up. This may be a simple or complex set up. This will depend on the number staff you will be employing and the kind of PABX or VOIP solutions that will suit the setup structure. Another factor to consider is the volume of traffic to and from the center. Equip your center with the best communication devices that will allow for best interaction with your clients. Soundproof areas should be made where the agent’s workspace would be setup. You would not want to have a rowdy workplace.
Technical assets such as a voice witch/EPABX, multiplexers necessary for data and voice transport, routers and RISC/ CISC servers, modems, headsets, desktops, E1/T1 circuits for connectivity, IVR, CTI and Automatic Call Distributors ACDs should be purchased. These equipment will be installed by a VOIP consultant. You should get a consultant recommended from existing call centres or other trusted sources.
Call routing or ACD, an acronym for automatic call distribution, is a management procedure that allows for a call to be sent to a specific queue within the system. The system may be simple or complex depending on your setup. The Skills-based routing and the round robin routing are very well utilized in the call center industry.
The skill-based routing allows for important calls to be sent to a specialist in that particular product. The Round robin addresses issues that occur when calls are not evenly distributed among agents. For this to be successfully employed, the teams have to be cross-trained on policies, procedures and scripting for all available products or services where necessary.
The hold system attempts to hold calls for the agents where necessary while the system checks for available agents. During this hold period, music, product adverts and available promotional messages may be played between hold messages.
Getting clients is the most important part of any business venture. If there are no clients, your business will shut down even before takeoff. So, who are your clients? Do you need to pitch to one or more multinationals, government outfits, or are you building to manage your own business? If you are pitching, then it is good to go with a seasoned team that know the in and out of the BPO business.
Whatever you do, the objective of the call center must be achieved. Some clients would give contracts for between 2-5 years, which is usually renewable. If you happen to get a contract, then you must realize that you are an offshoot of the contracting company. This means your real clients are their clients. The performance of the call center is only going to be measured on the efficiency of positive feedback of the clients.
Evaluating your Call Center
Call-flow data is critical to the efficiency of operations in a call center. There are a number of call-flow software available. This software makes it easier for management to understand call pattern. This will assist in knowing why some calls are being abandoned, and the average speed of answering calls. This information will help to effectively distribute call agents to manage workload and maximize customer experience.
The overall performance of your call center should be measured using data captured from average speed of answer and abandonment rate which is then extrapolated to determine service level statistics. Maximum answer time should not be above 20 seconds, maximum abandonment rate, 5% and service level, 80%. 80% service level implies that 80% of calls were answered in under 20 seconds.
The average handle time of calls plays a major determinant in call flow data. Call handle time captures not only the talk time but also the wrap time. The wrap time is the time needed for the completion of other calls before the advisor is available to pick a new call.
To ensure that you appraise your call center from time to time, it is important to have monitoring system for recording calls and video feeds where necessary. Key performance indicators should be used as metric to measure efficiency of the call center. This data is also critical in assessing business potential, for maximizing investment and client experiences.
Plan for the Future
The future of your call center is dependent on the growth of your client base. You must have a projected plan in place for expansion when the need arises. Changes in market would help you scale your business to the degree of change. For instance, you may need to increase your call center agents. Sometimes, whole new teams may be employed to handle new outfits beyond the scope of the existing setup. You may also need to update software and hardware from time to time.
If properly managed, you should be able to recoup investment within 2 – 3 years. The call center business is a very lucrative business and if you follow what has been penned down, you would be able to start a call center business of your own.
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