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FAQs - For In-house Call Centers

Q: How should I fund the call center?

Q: What options are there for staffing?

Q: Can my agents do both inbound and outbound (my boss thinks so)?

Q: What should be the reporting structure to the rest of the company?

Question: How should I fund the call center?

Answer: One of your first decisions needs to be is if you will be viewed as a profit center or a cost center within your company.  

A profit center is when your call center generates its own revenue (which is used to cover expenses). The revenue can be received directly from your customers or in the form of charges to other departments for whom you do work.

A cost center is when your call center is does not generate any revenue for itself and then funding needs to be allocated to the call center.

Always opt to be a profit center. If you are generating profits, it is much easier to protect your call center, your staff, and your mission from budget cut-backs and expense reductions mandates. After all, if you are forced to cut expenses, the revenue you generate will also be cut. If you are a cost-center, no such direct connection can be made; you may find your call center budget - or your entire department - on the chopping block each year.

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Question: What options are there for staffing?

Answer: You can work with your HR department to find and hire staff for your call center. Do whatever you can to let them know the type of person you are seeking and the skills they must have.  

Another option is to go through a temp agency. Many of the national chains have special screening software tailored for call centers. If you are running a large call center, with hundreds of agents, the temp firm may actually have their own management staff on-site to help you with staffing issues.

There is also the option of starting out with temp workers and then moving the good ones to your own payroll. This is called temp-to-perm.

Job fairs and local colleges are other good sources for call center staff.

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Question: Can my agents do both inbound and outbound

Answer: This is not a good idea. Although it looks good on paper, very few employees have the skill set and the personality to effectively make and answer calls. They will usually excel at one and struggle with the other. If you find an agent who can do both, great, but don't expect it.

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Question: What should be the reporting structure to the rest of the company?

Answer: Call centers, depending on their function and focus, have varied  reporting structures. Common areas include the IT department, the CIO, the telecommunications director, or the marketing department. All too often, however, no one in upper management wants the call center to be their responsibility, so the call center gets shuffled off to low level managers and those who lack the power to decline.

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