How to Start a Call Center or BPO


An Indian call center

Image via Wikipedia

Hello friends,
A lot of budding entrepreneurs are turning to the BPO industry now-a-days. Even though it looks promising, it is not as easy. I have experience starting a call center and I wish to share a few things that I learned the hard way. If you want to set up a call center, you can begin with:

Setup Guidelines and Can a Small BPO Exist in India? and Call Center Basics

I will be presenting a lot of other details in the coming posts, but in this post, I’m discussing not the procedure of starting a call center, but the purpose and the softer aspects of business itself.

Everywhere on the internet, people have given instructions about starting a call center, but it is not like a mathematics problem that if you know the formula, you can easily get a solution! In business, there are a lot of things that one needs to pay attention to. Let’s discuss one by one.

[1] The Industry: Before you take a plunge in any business, you need to know the industry trends, challenges, opportunities and threats. Check out: Evolution of Key Services and Verticals in BPO And, it isn’t enough to just create a docket. What is needed, is the market information on your fingertips. This should include details like which call center has what type of client, how much they are getting paid, where can there be frauds, how to save yourself from frauds, where you could get financing (whether financing is necessary or you can do self-financing), what are the manpower challenges, what are the legalities (including licenses, legal pitfalls, and where all can you get legally stuck), the attrition rate, etc. Also, you need to learn from experiences of the other entrepreneurs of your industry – including successful as well as failures. Apart from that, think about what problems you can get into, and what all can be the possible solutions BEFORE actually starting the business. Check out: BPO Fraud

[2] Business Vision: Everybody can earn money and every business pays. But YOU have to decide what business you want to get into, which should be based upon a thorough study. Where you are sure you will get profit, get into that business. At the same time, remember that nobody can start earning profits from day one. Define the terms: timeline to open shop, timeline to stabilize the business, timeline to break-even, and growth vision. In case you face losses, you have to decide beforehand, how much deeper you would go… and stick to it. Example: If you have decided that you won’t lose any of your personal assets, and if such a situation comes in your business, then no matter what the circumstances, stick to what you have decided. In case you had decided that in order to save your business, you’ll sacrifice your personal assets, but not go in negative by piling debts, then stick to it. It is advisable, never to cross the zero line and go in minus (debts).

[3] Financing: There are two ways: (1) get finance from somewhere and (2) self-finance. Many first-timers think that they can sustain the business with their own money, i.e., self-financing. This is because of many reasons like: our business plans are weak and hence, don’t attract financers (like banks or VCs) OR the financers may meddle/influence our decisions OR we have to share our profit with the financer even when we are doing all the hard work and they’ve paid just once. But there are advantages and disadvantages of both the options. If we do self-financing, then we are the sole owners… it is our business, our game and our profit; no other person can have a say. BUT, remember that if there is an emergency, then a financer can save our business in the nick of time. Even if you have your personal assets, it may take time to liquefy them. Also, your personal assets may have emotional value to you. Hence, even the slightest delay may affect loss of business opportunity or worst case scenario, your business continuity. Also, your financer could be influential, which may help you avoid or delay a lot of problems. This proves beneficial as you get time to act or react.

[4] Legalities: Always remember that legalities are the basic foundation of any business. Many first timers think that it is just a start of their business and there’s no need to invest in a legal advisor. But it is the start of the business, where we are most vulnerable, because that is the time we sign a lot of documents without giving much thought. REMEMBER: Never sign a document as it is, which is given to you from another business; you also can add your own terms to the agreement or object to some of their terms before signing. Just because the other business is larger than yours, don’t feel intimidated. If you were smart and strong in your legalities, then nobody can harm you. Sometimes it happens that whatever is discussed is written in a confusing way in the document for signing. Just a word here and there may cost you a lot of money! Never take any shortcuts to legal aspects. There’s a trend in case of small call centers to sign the documents and send it over the internet – there’s no face to face meeting for signing crucial documents. This is very risky because you’ve never seen the person, never seen his business. Sometimes, even a face to face meeting doesn’t ensure payment, then how can we base our complete business and risk every penny invested, on a virtual signed document?

[5] Expenditure: The market isn’t all black or white. There are a lot of gray areas everywhere. A cheaper item isn’t always bad, and a costly item isn’t always good. At the same time, we shouldn’t cut short on all our expenses because now we are responsible, and we shouldn’t expend all we have just because now we can! Evaluate every quotation that comes your way and try to find an alternative, cheaper solution which would give you the same quality and utility, but observe caution. Example 1: the dialer software costs approx. Rs. 10,000 per PC, but someone may offer you dialer software for just Rs. 4000 per PC! Find out what he has to offer. NOTE: There are a few dialer softwares which are available on the internet FREE OF COST. Find out whether that person is trying to sell you the free software for a cost. Example 2: Many ISPs try to charge a monthly rental for Static IP. Try and find one that doesn’t. Also, if you’ve worked in multinationals before starting your own center, then you may think that people won’t work with you unless you have a posh office. False. Employees don’t stick to posh offices, they stick to companies that care about their employees, the companies that provide them facilities and benefits.

[6] Technical Aspects: It is always better to know the technicalities yourself. If you don’t, then there’s a possibility of getting swindled sometimes. To avoid this, try and learn as much as you can from the technicians that you hire. Check out: Technical Aspects of Starting a Call Center And, one stop shop for all your technical needs may turn out to be a ripoff. So, research well. You can get help from any tech person knowledgeable in VOIP and networking.  All you really need is a server, some workstations, and the broadband connection.  Call center technical consultants will charge an arm and a leg since they are “specialized”, but again, most technical consulting firms can do it as well. You may also find many people selling dialing minutes, but get the best price by negotiating hard from a good vendor.

[7] Recruitment: Manpower is the most important asset for a BPO. No matter how strong your business plan, technicalities, financials or employee facilities are, your business won’t earn you money unless your ‘manpower’ gives you the desired results. Many start-ups think that spending on manpower by going to recruitment consultants is a waste. One of my friends did that himself! He tried to do the hiring for his company on his own, because he thought since he had taken almost 1000 interviews during his tenure with big companies, he could do the same with his own company as well! But when he got down to recruiting a small team of 15, he had to postpone his process start date only because he couldn’t get the required manpower in the stipulated time. Finally, he had to settle for mediocre talent just to meet the deadline. He was lucky that the client waited for him to start the operations. But such delay is a loss of earning time and sometimes, loss of business as well. Moreover, if we settle for mediocre talent, then it hinders our earning potential, and may slam us with penalties for lack of performance also. Check out: Numbers to Crunch

I would be discussing/sharing some more things with you in my future posts.

You may also like to check out MY BOOK.

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For Book REVIEW click here: http://www.junglee.com/dp/9381836469/ref=smr_dp_title

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About mau5779

I have 8 years experience working with big companies as well as smaller ones. The bigger companies gave me exposure of quality and best practices whereas, the smaller companies gave me the skill of handling contingencies & formulating business strategies. I have experience in marketing, Customer Relationship Management, customer service, employee engagement, operations, service delivery, vendor management, knowledge management, handling conflicts, recruitment, MIS & Reporting, budgeting, Kaizen, ISMS/ITIL, Six Sigma & Incident/Change management. I have undergone the Leadership Development training three times and have handled On the Job Trainings, Rewards & Recognition & Recreation and Event Management. I have experience working with people from various countries in the continents of US (USA & Canada), Europe (UK, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain, France), Asia (China, Korea, Philippines, Japan, including India) and Australia. After these 8 years of job, I decided getting into business and started a Call Center in Pune. I also help other businesses enhance their profits.
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49 Responses to How to Start a Call Center or BPO

  1. vikas tatad says:

    my one of fri. in ahamdabad have a call center. he helps me to open a call center, can i start ?

  2. rishabh saxena says:

    hello manu ma’m i loved your research work and your help provided here it will help me a lot i just want to know to open a BPO i need a nasscom certification or not and even i want to know which other certifictions i needed to open BPO

    • mau5779 says:

      The certifications and the basics which are necessary to open a call center in India has been mentioned at the very start of this post as: “Setup Guidelines”. It has everything you need to start. Best of luck with your endeavour.

  3. Sayan says:

    hello mam,
    My name is Sayan. I stay in kolkata. I want to open a call center. I have sufficient space for it. I don’t have any experience related to call center. Though I have more than 2yrs of experience in IT field as a software developer. I need your help regarding it. Please give me your email.id or contact number. I want to talk to you personally.

    Thank You.

    • Rocky says:

      Hi,

      We can help you to setup Bpo, even we outsource process depending on your interest you can have process and start your own Bpo. We have setup many centers in Mumbai, pune, jaipur and currently helping in Chandigarh
      If your really serious in starting your Bpo than we can help and support you in every manner.

      You can contact me on below mentioned details.
      Phone +91 9004399037
      Email rex779237@gmail.com
      Skype id rockyds44

  4. kannan says:

    i am live rural area in tamil nadu,i would like to start bpo data entery in rural area.but don’t have experience in this field.how to approach the customer ,how to get project..please give some information to start the business mail id kannan_ece11@ymail.com

  5. Suman says:

    Hi, Warm Greetings…

    First of all many many thanks to you, for giving an very clear view on this subject.

    I was on a survey of BPO recently and found that in recent 2 years among all the BPO in our eastern Zone total of 37% candidates are from our State and 15% from near by state (i.e. max 3-4 hrs travel by road or rail.)
    I’m highly interested to open an BPO in my state. Can you kindly give me more details on this topic as I have suffered a lot being staying away from home & family, and finally I have to quite away from my job, So I’m quite interested in this to help my juniors and also it will bring an boost to my state. It will also create an IT Revolutionary too.

    • mau5779 says:

      What State are you in? Do I understand it right that you are running a BPO already and that you wish to help your 15% employees who come from a different state to work in your company?

      • Suman says:

        I’m from Odisha, and presently I have my own software development firm and i wana open an BPO to support our young mass those are getting migrated toward BPO

      • mau5779 says:

        So what help do you need that you couldn’t find in this post or this blog? Could you kindly ask specific questions so I could help you?

      • Suman says:

        In Short Steps or Process to start my own BPO.

      • mau5779 says:

        This post, where you are commenting, has all the initial steps to start a BPO. You first have to get the necessary govt. licenses, find an office space which has good access by all types of transports (bus, train or whatever’s nearby), then go to outsourcing.org, bpoindia.org, and Offshorexperts.com to find projects (business/clients), then hire GOOD talent, IT setup as requested by the client you’ve finalized the deal with, and then start operations. That’s all. Since you already have an IT company, you can fill in the blanks of Policy writing, HR formats to be created, quality checks to be done, and reports to be sent to clients, etc. Just 2 extra things you’ll need to do are: get a Dept. of Telecom (DOT) license (for dialing out as a BPO), and buy “dialing minutes” from airtel or other such vendors.

      • Mr K says:

        Hello , i am in international BPO Industry from last 7 years and my Journey till date was really good . The information updated above for Bpo industry is helpful as well important in order to start a business in Bpo .I know few clients like to invest in a bpo industry ,so if any source of help required then i will definately approach u .By the way can u let me know ur bpo name ?

        Thanx and Regard’s
        Mr K from Mumbai

    • Rocky says:

      Hi,

      We can help you to setup Bpo, even we outsource process depending on your interest you can have process and start your own Bpo. We have setup many centers in Mumbai, pune, jaipur and currently helping in Chandigarh
      If your really serious in starting your Bpo than we can help and support you in every manner.

      You can contact me on below mentioned details.
      Phone +91 9004399037
      Email rex779237@gmail.com
      Skype id rockyds44

  6. Manas Pandey says:

    Hi,

    I have 5 years experience in IT industry. But now I dnt like to work for someone else. We are around 5 person group, ready to invest in opening call center. But problem is I dont know anything about this BPO industry. I just started my research on this. I dont even know which all field have BPO services. Can you please guide me on this, like what all fields are there where I can look into it.

    Regards,
    Manas

    • mau5779 says:

      Check out these websites for all your answers: Offshorexperts.com, outsourcing.org and bpoindia.org.

    • Rocky says:

      Hi,

      We can help you to setup Bpo, even we outsource process depending on your interest you can have process and start your own Bpo. We have setup many centers in Mumbai, pune, jaipur and currently helping in Chandigarh
      If your really serious in starting your Bpo than we can help and support you in every manner.

      You can contact me on below mentioned details.
      Phone +91 9004399037
      Email rex779237@gmail.com
      Skype id rockyds44

  7. Chandan Sarkar says:

    Hello,
    thnx for ur valuable suggestions. I would like to start a BPO Businees (data entry, data processing, data verification, scanning) at West Bengal, India with 15-20 employees initially . I have read througout your comments & guidence, my query is can you plz give me geniune clients details?
    I want to share another point i.e. I have loose lots of money in data processing job just few yrs back due to not knowledge of fraud company’s, that’ why I am requesting u to guide me in proper way & waiting for your kind valuable reply
    Thnx once again…….

    • mau5779 says:

      Though I do not have experience in data-related processes, I know for sure that there’s a lot of fraud in that line. Also, unfortunately, I dont provide clients, I can only guide how to “spot” fraudsters. But if you have decided already to get into data processes, then I’d suggest you to do some leg work (that is go to local companies nearby) and search for work. Though it will be a lot of hard work and will consume a lot of your time to get projects (business), but at least you’ll be directly dealing with companies whose address you would know (this will ensure that those companies cannot run away with your hard-earned money). More so, never give anyone upfront money for any projects.

  8. Pawan says:

    Hi Sir I’m an Indian Citizen I would Like stated a BPO Business Like a Data Entry Operator UK Process I’ve Exp- Last Three Years In Sector of BPO But Domestic Process And I’ve Exp- Data Entry Operater Last Six Month . So plz help me ….

  9. Jack says:

    Hi Mou, I’m impressed with your terrific Content writing Skills & outstanding Knowledge about the Industry, I’am planning to start up a call center down the line…I would love to stay in touch with you for any help..Thanks.

    • mau5779 says:

      Do stay in touch and best of luck !

    • Rocky says:

      Any one looking out to start their own BPO or any existing BPO looking out for US process can contact on below mentioned details, No upfront, no advance payment, Center just need pc’s and internet connection rest of the things will be provided by us.

      If want to start a new BPO I will be very happy to help to start your own BPO with minimum investment.

      Mobile – 91 9004390037
      Email – rex779237@gmail.com
      Skype – rockyds44

      Note – Leave a message if I am not responding the call, possibilities to be in meeting with client.

  10. vin says:

    could your tell me how to search clients for call center

    • mau5779 says:

      This question has been answered in the comments section. Kindly check there for directions. If you need further help, then I’ll be happy to oblige.

  11. Anurag Shankar says:

    I was kind of looking at all of these stories and responses….Not sure if this is still making money but I guess I like the idea…I am in a Sr. management role for a top notch IT company in the world and looking for some options to explore when it comes to business….drop me @ +91-999-935-9694 and we can chat more about it…For sure a serious business and that is all!

  12. Reece says:

    whoah this blog is great i love reading your articles. Keep up the great work!
    You already know, a lot of individuals are looking round for this information,
    you can help them greatly.

  13. sir i bead documents for call canter start

  14. Rajeev says:

    HI.I am from Noida (India) and I like to open a domestic Call Center (20-40 employees) in English, Hindi, Marathi, Telgu .Please tell me where I start looking for contracts.

    Best regards,
    Rajeev

    • mau5779 says:

      Best way to start looking for local contracts is to study the companies in your area, find out what they may need, and then approach them with a feasible business support plan. This way, you directly approach clients for your business. Otherwise, you may scour outsourcing.org for projects.

  15. Garvit Sahai says:

    Hi,
    I am Garvit Sahai from Tamil Nadu coimbatore.
    Firstly I must say that your blog has opened my mind to so many aspects in this industry and I Thankyou for that.
    Secondly,I have recently quit IBM india and am planning to start my own BPO using my Dads company name as it is already registered as Infotech 15 years back and to add value to company as it is in manufacturing.
    I have two options:
    1)My process is to sell technical services to America and U.K.(OutBound process). For
    Initial Investment I have rented computers and have got Anglo – Indians to start this work.
    This project does not give much revenue but my contacts tell me that after entering into this process within 3 months we switch to inbound and generate higher revenues.

    2)One of my friends is running a Banking loan process for the U.S.A and he is willing to give me the job ofcourse at a lower cost. But safety is conformed here where as not in the fisrt one…

    Need your Advice ASAP — next week is the decision to be made.

    • mau5779 says:

      Apologize for the delay in replying to your email earlier. And am glad I could help you in whichever way possible. The following words of wisdom could help:

      [1] In business, there’s no ‘friend’ and no ‘guarantee/confirmation’. If one is good for your account books, he’s your friend, otherwise not. Keep personal friendship and business separate.

      [2] When we shift from a job to business, we think that decisions have to be made quick. But that stops you from thinking thoroughly – testing pros and cons of every deal. Do that, take your time doing it. You’ll save yourself from a lot of fraud and deception.

      [3] No upfront fees please. More than 50% of those cases are fraud.

      [4] For further reading, you can check out:Offshorexperts.com, outsourcing.org, and bpoindia.org.

      Reply back if you need anything.

  16. raluca baltaga says:

    HI.I am from Romania and I like to open a Call Center (30-40 employees) in English, Spain,Russian, Greek, Romanian and French .Please tell me where I start looking for contracts.

    Best regards,
    Raluca

    • mau5779 says:

      Hello Raluca,
      If by ‘contracts’ you mean getting clients, then kindly look into my response to the comment posted by Arun Kumar in the trail below. Else, please send an email to me on mau5779rupali@hotmail.com and I’ll be happy to answer your queries.

      Regards, n’ Best of Luck!

    • atanu says:

      Hi raluca,
      this is atanu , i am working as a deputy manager in an international call center for d last 3 years.I & my company will be happy to work with you. For further queries you can mail me on atanu002@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to answer your queries.

      • sharat says:

        this is sharat from india .i would like to start a call centre.how to start and what are the requierments .may i hope to send details to me.

      • mau5779 says:

        Hi Atanu,

        I have taken a sabbatical for now, but when I start again, I’ll surely get in touch with you. :-)

        Rupali.

  17. Mohd Noor says:

    Hi, I m interested in the Call Center business. In the call center business where does the revenue come from?

    • mau5779 says:

      Hello Mohd Noor,
      The revenue comes from clients when you (i.e., your center) perform according to the set and agreed client expectations. So, you first have to ‘mutually agree’ on the SLAs for that particular client. Hope it clarifies your doubt. If not, then feel free to comment again.

  18. Sumedha says:

    Hi, thank you so much for posting this as learnt a lot from your blog. I am looking for business to start a small (10-20 employees) BPO in Sri Lanka (the outskirts of Colombo). Would it be possible for you to give me some advice on how to proceed? I’ve done quite a bit of research and I’m looking for business in the lines of data entry, data processing, data verification, scanning/indexing and indexing.

    I am open to a partnership with you on a profit share basis if you are agreeable. I have contacts in most of the western countries that will be looking for outsourcing options who are willing to find clients for the respective services.

    I have management/administrative experience and have handled sales & branding teams. I have also worked in HR, imports/exports and have some experience in production planning (which will be helpful when organizing the services and reducing costs.

    I will be grateful for any titbits of advice you could give me if you aren’t interested in a partnership. To the readers of this comment, I invite you to a partnership if you have clients that are looking for high quality low cost services.

    • mau5779 says:

      Hello Sumedha,
      Kindly send me an email on mau5779rupali@hotmail.com with the details of help you need, and I’ll surely do my best. Also, it will help us better if you could indicate your level of preparation, as in, what you’ve done till now to ‘practically’ set up your business, so I could give you guidelines about what else needs to be done. The reason I’m asking this is because in the initial phase of a business, there are so many things to do, that one can easily get lost in the pile. :-)

  19. ARUN KUMAR says:

    THANKS this will help me a lot, request how did you get clients

    please will wait for your response (arku786@gmail.com)

    Regards,
    Arun Kumar
    7666620905

    • mau5779 says:

      Hello Arun,

      I had to search a lot, but also had to spend a lot of time researching the industry itself. (I had 6 years call center industry “work” experience, before starting own business, but work experience is completely different than the business experience and hence, extra effort has to be made to research the industry before you put any money into it.) I spread the word among my friends in call center industry who were in pre-sales or who seemed to have the right contacts, etc. Then I searched the sites: (1) guru.com (2) elance.com and (3) outsourcing.org for projects. At the same time I searched for the Fraud List for call centers and also studied fraud cases to find a pattern or hints to safeguard my own business. I also developed my business network in my city and tried to learn anything and everything they had to share. I got one of my projects when one call center businessman didn’t have space for his new project and I had. My point: contacts can give you business, but check out for possibility of fraud. This is too much work, too complicated and business is never predictable. So, if you still have the drive and motivation, then go ahead and best of luck.

  20. nawraj says:

    this is a very helpful sir

  21. Fozia says:

    Hi,
    I am a South African moving to Pune in February. I am very interested in opening a call centre with an Indian friend of mine. I am very impressed with your website and would appreciate any advice or help that you could give me.

    Fozia

    • mau5779 says:

      Hello Fozia,
      Welcome to India! I’m glad that you found the information helpful, and I’d be happy to help when you come down, or even before that. I’ve recently helped a Swedish IT company to open a subsidiary here, and I know what kind of problems a foreigner may face while starting a business in India. I’m also aware that start-ups have a lot of workload and too less a time & budget and hand, and I think I could help you in that department as well. Feel free to chat on Skype, my ID is: mau5779.

  22. prasum mishra says:

    sir i liked ur suggestation

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