How to Run a Successful Call Center in 2024

Learn how to set up and run a call center that keeps your customer service team happy and turns your satisfied customers into promoters.

Written by: Allie Decker


Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

Download Now
Call center management strategy for 2024



After many years as a call center manager, I can guarantee that when people need help, are confused, or are frustrated, they want to connect with another human. Because of that, call centers are still an integral part of customer support and creating good customer experiences.

For a call center to succeed in 2024, you need to simplify the workflow while giving your customers a five-star experience.

→ Download Now: Customer Support Training Template [Free Template]

In this guide, I’ll share my tips on how to start a winning call center and my personal best practices for call center management.

Call centers can be dedicated to either a single company or handle multiple clients. They can also vary greatly in size. Some have thousands of trained representatives.

Why Are Call Centers Important?

Call centers are how your company reaches customers on a human level. Speaking directly to someone makes your customers (and potential customers) feel connected.

While I personally prefer texts or emails for receiving offers or giving feedback, I’ll always choose a phone conversation for an important issue that needs real-time responses. If my air conditioner isn’t working and it’s 90 degrees outside, I want to talk to someone who can help right away. Waiting for an email response makes every minute feel like hours.

In fact, calls have become a vital part of a good brand image. Nearly 30% of customers will just give up if they have to wait too long on hold for customer service.

I’ve seen call centers implement AI tools like voice bots and interactive voice response (IVR) scripts with varying degrees of success… and a few colossal failures.

Especially when a customer is frustrated, an empathetic conversation with a customer support executive can diffuse the situation much faster than clicking multiple options on a chatbot.

Free Customer Support Training Template

Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

  • Training Timeline
  • People to Meet
  • 100 Day Goals
  • And More!
Learn more

    Download Free

    All fields are required.

    You're all set!

    Click this link to access this resource at any time.

    How to Start a Call Center

    I’m a firm believer in the importance of call centers. Human interaction on customer calls will always be an important part of building strong customer relationships. But how do you set one up for your company? Whether you’re a multinational firm or a small business, the steps are the same.

    Let’s walk through how I set up and start a new call center.

    Steps to start a call center in 2024

    1. Establish the purpose of your call center.

    The first thing I do is make sure the purpose of the call center is clear. Establishing your call center’s purpose is like having a blueprint. If I don’t know what my call center is going to deliver, I won’t know whom to hire, what process to create, or how to train my staff.

    That’s why I sometimes call it the “step zero” of call center management. You don’t need to have a 20-step foolproof plan at this point. Having a broad sense of your business goals and your general steps is enough.

    For instance, if I want to improve the after-sales support for my products, then:

    • I’ll start a call center exclusively meant for customer support.
    • I’ll hire staff who have experience solving customers’ issues.
    • My call center training will help representatives quickly find solutions or redirect customers to an expert.

    This is a rough blueprint for starting my call center. You can also create yours by finding the purpose through these questions:

    • What’s the one problem I need to solve with the call center?
    • What does success look like for my call center in the long run?
    • How does the mission of my call center align with the broader team?

    2. Determine a budget.

    Call centers are investments. The money I spend on a call center will come back as higher customer satisfaction, increased sales leads, and more profits.

    Does that mean spending a huge chunk of company revenue on a call center is the right move? Not necessarily.

    To determine a realistic budget, I recommend considering the projected call center's monthly expenses and comparing them with your expected ROI and overall company budget.

    Your budget should include the number of employees you want to hire, their salaries, the required equipment, infrastructure, and some safety funds.

    3. Implement call center technology.

    Call centers can’t operate without technology, and this goes beyond telephones. In order for my team to do their jobs, they need automation like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, automatic call distributor (ACD) systems, and interactive voice response (IVR) systems.

    These systems help speed up calls and reduce wait times, streamlining your call center management process and improving customer experience.

    For example, I always have an IVR script in place for inbound calls. The script broadly categorizes the customer’s issue and redirects the call to an agent with the right qualifications.

    By implementing this, I’ve reduced the number of call transfers and improved the resolution time for each call.

    But technology is for more than just the process. I also prioritize getting comfortable equipment for all my employees to boost employee satisfaction and protect their health. In the past year, I replaced all office chairs with ergonomic furniture and brought in new, more comfortable headphones with high-quality sound.

    My employees are happier and more motivated to work, and that’s reflected in the productivity of our call center.

    4. Organize your call center process.

    Before hiring my staff, I set up processes to ensure consistency across calls, no matter who talks to the customer.

    Say, for instance, I call Walmart. I’ll expect the standard greeting: “Hi! You’ve reached Walmart. How can I help you today?” from the other end, regardless of the agent I am talking to.

    To ensure this consistency in call center management, I establish multiple processes for the duration of the contact. This includes:

    • How the staff receives calls.
    • What they say during the call.
    • How and when they escalate an issue.
    • What they do once the call ends.

    The initial greeting is how each call center rep will answer the calls. The greeting style should be uniform and reflect your brand’s style to improve customer satisfaction.

    However, the majority of each call is different. I’ve seen calls ranging from a single minute to half an hour, addressing a wide range of issues.

    Is it possible to maintain consistency across such calls? Yes.

    While you can’t predict 100% of the conversation in each call, I recommend creating call center scripts for common scenarios. These scripts should be flexible but reflect consistent brand messaging. If scripts become too rigid, they can sound robotic.

    Along with scripts for common conversations, I also prepare a detailed process for when my agents need to escalate calls. The scripts list what to say, whom to contact next, and how to transfer the call.

    I found that when reps are prepared, it increases their confidence, decreases resolution time, and creates customer trust.

    I also create processes for the post-call-drop stage. This includes updating notes, filling out surveys, and logging the call on the company database.

    For managers and team leaders, I include a process to record calls and monitor call quality. This helps me track the progress of my agents and check KPIs for call center success (keep reading for more about that).

    5. Hire your call center staff.

    If I have to name one component that absolutely makes or breaks call center management, I would say the staff. The call center agents, representatives, employees, or whatever you like to call them, are the ones giving that “human touch” to your business.

    That’s why staffing the call center is one step in which I am extra attentive. If I want to deliver high-quality customer service, my focus has to be on selecting a high-quality call center team.

    Roles to be filled include:

    • Call center manager. Managers track call quality with KPIs, deal with staffing requirements, handle staff concerns, and manage the call center's daily operations.
    • Team leader. Team leaders head smaller groups of agents within the call center and manage their operations. They report to the manager.
    • Agents/representatives. Agents are the bulk of your staff. They are the ones who actually interact with the customer.
    • Trainer. Trainers ensure everyone is on the same page about handling calls, providing support or closing deals, and following any other call center protocols.
    • Analyst. Analysts help the manager keep an eye on call center and staff performance. They analyze individual calls as well as overall call center data to understand their performance.

    Before posting your job ad and starting recruiting, be sure you are focusing on the right skills.

    Job listing for a call center agent

    I’ve had my fair share of poor customer support experiences. The call center agent couldn’t understand my issue, spoke in monosyllables, or was rude. And let me tell you, those experiences ruined the brand’s image for me.

    That’s why, on top of hard skills, I always recommend focusing on soft skills during recruiting.

    Jen Knight, a senior learning & development specialist at Convoso puts it:

    When selecting agents, prioritize innate customer service abilities over technical skills and experience. Being nice, kind, and patient should take precedence, as these traits cannot be taught. While scripts and processes can be learned, the ability to genuinely connect with customers in real-time is a testament to their personality and adaptability.

    6. Train your call center staff.

    Once I’m done with onboarding the staff and creating processes, I train mycall center employees to follow them. The training includes both passive and active components.

    Passive components are training modules that don’t need the employees to engage and are purely for knowledge transfer. I usually include a mix of printed notes, short presentations, and assignments to ensure the staff learns the process thoroughly.

    Free Customer Support Training Template

    Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

    • Training Timeline
    • People to Meet
    • 100 Day Goals
    • And More!
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      Active components are modules where the staff needs to participate. These include listening to actual call recordings, practicing responses, and acting out scenarios with team members.

      Gauri Manglik, CEO at Instrumentl, prefers similar methods while training her staff. She says:

      In my experience, one of the most effective ways to train call center staff is through role-playing and simulations. By running mock calls and scenarios, agents can practice handling different situations in a safe environment. This allows them to build confidence and experience before taking live calls.

      Along with role-playing common calls, I also make sure to train my staff on how to de-escalate tense calls. Sometimes, customers might be angry and start yelling or even be abusive on calls.

      I never want my agents to feel they have to take abuse from clients, but we don’t want to make the situation worse either.

      If my agents respond to them rudely — that’s a customer my business loses. Instead, I teach my agents to be patient and use de-escalation techniques like HEARD (Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, Diagnose) to calm the customer down and make sure they know when to transfer the call to a team lead or manager.

      7. Measure performance and success.

      When measuring a call center’s performance, I find going through and analyzing individual calls the most accurate. But that’s neither realistic nor feasible with huge call volumes.

      That’s why I use KPIs that give me accurate insights into the call center’s performance. None of these KPIs can be used in a vacuum. Looking at them in combination is what makes them work.

      • First call resolution (FCR). The percentage of issues resolved within the first call from the customer to the call center.
      • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT). The score the customer gives (usually on a scale of 1-10) on a survey at the end of each call.
      • Net promoter score (NPS). A score determined by an algorithm or customer survey that determines how likely a caller is to promote your business in-person or online via social media.
      • Average handle time (AHT). The average duration an agent spends on each call. While important, speed alone can’t be used to measure success. A representative could be dismissing calls before resolving the problem or transferring it to others to protect their time scores.
      • Call availability. The number of agents available to take a call at any given time.

      These call center metrics help me track the call center’s performance as a whole. But if you want to track agent performances in particular, you can use call monitoring in addition to these metrics.

      Tracking these metrics should be a part of your call center process from the beginning. That way, you’ll be able to track them in real-time and refine your training and call process for effective call center management.

      Smitha Baliga, CEO/CFO of TeleDirect Communications, says: “Utilize the metrics within your call center dashboards to effectively grade and educate your agents on areas of improvement … A great way to do this is to incorporate customer feedback into training sessions.

      8. Ensure timely updates.

      One thing that I’ve learned in my years working with call centers is that the processes keep evolving. Customers may have new issues, the company might launch new products, or one of the call center supervisors might want to try a new approach.

      The only way to keep your call center management process up-to-date is to update your training, software, and technology periodically. For example, I gave my agents a refresher on their training presentations every three months.

      This helped them brush up on concepts and also gave me a chance to introduce a new module.

      I find managing my staff and customers to be a nuanced process. That’s why I follow these best practices for how to manage a call center to keep my staff motivated and customers happy.

      1. Provide incentives to meet goals.

      I love motivating my employees through encouraging words and positive feedback, but providing tangible incentives is the best way to keep them productive.

      These incentives don’t need to be something big. A simple gift card or a small cash bonus works well. Such gifts contribute to employee recognition, reducing turnover and improving employee retention.

      Pro tip: A simple trick I use to motivate a large number of employees is to increase the number of incentives. Instead of one huge bonus for a top-performing agent, I give out several smaller bonuses to every employee who meets personal targets.

      Another type of incentive is quality of work-life incentives. Small things that decrease stress and improve morale without negatively affecting productivity fit in this category. For example, I’ve had employees who were absolutely the most motivated by the ability to knit or crochet at their desks between calls.

      2. Keep the role progressive.

      Call center roles can often become monotonous and stagnant, which motivates your employees to look elsewhere for a more challenging role.

      To prevent this turnover, I provide a well-defined career path for my call center staff. For example, someone who started as a customer service representative at my organization can progress up to a team leader role with experience.

      Joel Wolfe, founder of HiredSupport, agrees. He shares that, “It‘s always a good idea to promote the idea of learning and development in the organization so that employees don’t feel like it's a dead-end job.

      Free Customer Support Training Template

      Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

      • Training Timeline
      • People to Meet
      • 100 Day Goals
      • And More!
      Learn more

        Download Free

        All fields are required.

        You're all set!

        Click this link to access this resource at any time.

        3. Encourage employee engagement.

        Whether it’s through one-on-one meetings, team outings, or in-office discussions — employee engagement is important for a successful call center. Surprisingly, only 23% of global employees are engaged.

        I want all of my staff to be a part of that engaged minority, and these are my favorite employee engagement tactics:

        • Recognition. I hold peer recognition programs for my call center staff. Employees are encouraged to give a “star” at the end of every week to peers who they think performed best. I give a shoutout and a small prize to the employee who earns the highest number of stars at the end of every quarter.
        • Wellness. Once every six months, I organize emotional intelligence workshops for the entire team to celebrate workplace mental health.
        • Team-building. Every week, a different employee takes charge of a “fun responsibility,” like organizing game sessions, giving a motivational speech, or choosing the next week’s office snack.

        Depending on your budget, you can also encourage individual interests by organizing fun hobby workshops or shared outings.

        4. Integrate call center software.

        Apart from call center software, I also use CRMs, ERPs, and other software to manage my business processes.

        I integrate my call center software with my CRM to streamline these different systems and maintain a centralized data system. This lets my call center staff easily access customer details, such as phone numbers and products bought, which helps them resolve customer issues quickly.

        You can explore the capabilities of HubSpot’s Service Hub if you’re interested in leveraging a tool like this.

        5. Use data for forecasting.

        When my agents log customer information at the end of each call, I am usually able to collect a large amount of data. This includes FCR, NPS, and other KPIs that I discussed earlier.

        I analyze this data to forecast call volumes, identify common issues, project expected revenue, and optimize my contact center processes.

        Instead of following a blind protocol, I am now more confident about my process because it is data-backed.

        Best practices for call center management in 2024

        6. Know customer expectations.

        While I internally evaluate calls, customer feedback about the calls may be different from mine. That’s why our staff sends callers a customer feedback survey at the end of every call.

        The answers to those surveys help me understand how effective our call process is from the customers' point of view. It tells me what our customers expect so I can work to accommodate their feedback.

        7. Ensure efficient scheduling.

        My call center goals are centered around increasing ROI, retaining more customers, and ultimately maximizing my business's revenue. Supporting my employees is vital to achieving these goals. I create schedules with reasonable hours and adequate breaks for all my call center staff.

        This helps me minimize burnout, which is a serious issue for all employers and affects the performance of around 65% of employees in a year.

        Further, I post all schedules two weeks in advance. This allows my staff to plan their everyday activities and commitments around this schedule, helping them prioritize both work and personal life.

        I also have a written time-off request policy so everyone knows the procedures and requirements in case they require more time off to take care of things. It’s also important to plan for emergencies.

        Car accidents, sick children, and worse happen. Don’t schedule so tightly that one employee emergency will throw your center into chaos.

        8. Utilize self-service channels for training.

        All call center staff undergo rigorous training during their first few weeks. However, there’s a good chance they’ll forget bits and pieces of what they’ve learned and need to brush up as time goes by.

        I set up self-service channels for them to follow up. This includes written guides, online training videos, FAQs, and mock-call assignments which they can access at any time. With these self-service channels, my employees can instantly find information to tackle situations they feel they aren’t prepared for.

        9. Value employee feedback.

        My employees have practical knowledge of our call center process and use it every day. That’s why I consider employee feedback in addition to customer feedback.

        A good way to ask for employee feedback is through a small survey after a certain number of calls to understand if your staff is comfortable with the existing process. You can also consider asking for feedback during exit interviews, team meetings, and training.

        10. Periodically conduct quality checks.

        Tracking call center metrics helps quantify the call center’s performance. But keeping track of each agent's performance can be tough.

        That’s why I conduct periodic quality checks where my managers review a sample of random call records for each agent. This helps us identify any performance issues and address them through additional training and assessments.

        These checks also help me identify top performers with intangible soft skills for handling customers that might not always show up on KPIs.

        Adopt efficient call center management practices

        I’ve seen more AI and automation taking up customer service tasks recently. I’ve also heard negative feedback from customers about dealing with AI for too long. Call centers are vital to provide the human touch.

        An effective call center management process will help boost customer service experiences for any business.

        My eight-step strategy will help you set up your own call center in 2024, and my call center management best practices will help you keep it running smoothly.

        Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2022 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

        New call-to-action

        Related Articles

        Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

          Service Hub provides everything you need to delight and retain customers while supporting the success of your whole front office