How to Start a Call Center The Cheap and Simple Way

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To start a call center without breaking the bank, go the virtual route. A virtual call center allows employees to work remotely in any location with a good internet connection. It’s entirely cloud-based, meaning the associated business doesn’t need a physical office space to hire and manage a full team.

The Cheap and Simple Way to Start a Call Center

Going the virtual route is a fairly straightforward and cost-effective way of operating a call center, and following these steps will help you simplify the process.

Step 1: Decide on an outbound, inbound, or blended structure

Before making any other moves, you’ll want to decide what kind of virtual call center you should run. Your three options are inbound, outbound, and blended.

An inbound call center primarily receives incoming calls from customers. Outbound call centers do the opposite, meaning their agents are the ones who make calls (like sales pitches and follow-ups) to customers.

A blended call center is intended to receive calls from customers and place calls to customers. This means the call center needs to have a dedicated department for outbound and inbound calls and/or agents who are trained to handle both.

Deciding on which type of call center to go with depends on how your business operates. 

For example, if your main objective is to provide customer service by fielding and taking care of customer complaints, then you’re better off choosing an inbound infrastructure. You may also want to opt for an inbound structure if your business regularly receives high volumes of incoming customer calls for any reason.

However, if your business relies on traditional lead generation by reaching out to potential customers, then an outbound structure may suit you the best. Outbound call centers are also good for research and fundraising, or if you conduct regular surveys. 

Of course, if your sales and customer support responsibilities are split more evenly, a blended structure provides a balanced solution for managing both types of calls.

Step 2: Make sure you have a budget of $500-$13,000 to start a call center

Once you decide on the type of virtual call center you want to run, the next step is determining a budget. Compared to physical call centers, the startup costs for virtual call centers are relatively low.

With a budget as low as $500 or less, for example, it’s possible to start and run a call center alone. With a virtual call center, you can easily save on business registration costs and rent, and you don’t need a lot of hardware or office equipment. Your setup doesn’t have to be complex either—all you really need is a good headset and microphone, plus a reliable internet connection.

Naturally, your costs will increase if and when you decide to hire call agents. Along with their salaries, you also need to account for their hardware and software costs.

Remember, even when you save on facility expenses because your operation is virtual, you’ll still have other costs. These include:

  • Call center software solutions and subscriptions
  • Employee salaries and possible benefits
  • Peripherals and accessories provided by the company like headsets, laptops, and other equipment you might need
  • Employee training materials

Given these expenses, it’s important to consider your business needs and determine if you have the budget for all of them. It may be a good idea to start with a small group of experienced agents and expand as your business grows. It’s also important to choose call center software and tools that closely align with your business needs. 

Most call center solutions offer a tier-based system that allows you to start slow and scale up as your business grows. Some come with an integrated IVR system, which can be a huge difference-maker if it fits into your needs and budget.

Lastly, keep in mind that mishaps can happen at any time, so be sure to leave room in your budget for unexpected expenses and additional software, hardware, or equipment needs. 

Step 3: Close Your First Three Clients or Service Calls

Putting together a great virtual call center won’t matter until you have a use for it and know how your customers and clients want to be served.

Securing the first few paying customers and handling their service requests is crucial if you want your business to succeed, and there are certain steps you should take to prepare for success:

  • Building a strong online presence is crucial for the success of any business, so create a professional website to showcase your services and highlight what sets you apart from the competition. If necessary, start a blog where you discuss your services at the call center or related issues to attract organic traffic and bring in more leads.
  • Choose one or two social media platforms where your target audience is most active and establish a presence to promote your virtual call center. Create a posting schedule and stick to it. The idea is to engage with existing and potential customers by answering their comments and direct messages. You can also join online communities and groups related to your business to connect better with your ideal clients.
  • Run ads on popular search engines like Google—it’s one of the fastest ways to reach potential customers. Research the most relevant search keywords and phrases people are likely to use. If you can create targeted ads using these terms, you’ll be able to reach people who are actively searching for services like yours. Expect to spend around $500 per month on ad campaigns in the beginning, though this cost is highly variable depending on the competition for your keywords or phrases and how big your existing business already is. 
  • Respond to requests for proposals (RFPs) for call center services like yours on sites like Many companies and individuals may be looking to outsource their customer service operations, so they create proposals on these sites and choose the best call center that meets their needs among the responses they get.
  • Do some networking with potential clients at in-person industry events to build up your connections. Before attending these kinds of events, you must know what you aim to achieve. For example, do you want to generate leads or create awareness? Answering this will help you target the right individuals. Be sure to highlight your expertise during conversations and always remain approachable. Listen attentively to catch what their needs may be and offer value. Collect contact information during these events, send follow-up messages afterward, and stay connected.

Additional Steps and Tips

Getting a call center started is only the beginning. To keep yours running effectively, you’ll want to consider the following actions on a rolling basis. 

  • Monitor your progress with call center metrics. Choose specific benchmarks and KPIs that match your goals.
  • Stay legal and industry-compliant. Call centers tend to handle a lot of sensitive customer data. Make sure your business follows all local and federal privacy laws.
  • Consider outsourcing your call center training. Bringing in experts can make the learning experience more effective.
  • Provide your agents with detailed call scripts and a thorough knowledge base to ensure they can always offer helpful responses to customers.
  • Make sure your call center software can integrate seamlessly with other tools and applications you work with, such as a CRM (customer relationship management) system.
  • Encourage customer feedback. Send out regular surveys and ask for feedback after calls. Find out what needs to improve, then make the required changes to maintain a positive customer experience.

Starting a virtual call center requires careful planning and good decision-making so that you have a setup that works for you, your budget, and your customers. Invest in the right tools and training materials for your agents, and stay informed so you can make fast improvements.

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