Starting Your Own Chat Contact Center in Three Months’ Time
Starting a new business is a hard job. Make no mistake – there will be obstacles to overcome, but getting Web1on1 (our Live Chat Service Provider) off the ground was not impossible.
With this blog we will share our experiences and best practices in launching and scaling our live chat service in the Netherlands. We started as two guys with a plan, and after six years and the addition of 150 colleagues, the business has grown to seven figures in yearly revenue and has spread across three European countries – the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
We want to share how we did it and how anyone with time and a lot of effort can do the same. Why? Because we hope to inspire and help build this industry. We want partners who utilize our platform, ChatShipper, to build the business they’ve always known they could.
The following three steps, if done correctly, are the pathway to an excellent business venture.
Step 1: Convince the critical mass
What is a live chat service? Well, I’m sure you’re familiar with the communication channel of live chat or Web chat on websites. But have you ever thought about who is on the other side?
Most large companies will have their own staff answering chats. But what if you are an SMB and your Web traffic is not enough to have your own employees answer chats? Then outsourcing live chat might be a solution. Live chat service providers or managed chat providers do just that.
So there is your business model. Pretty straightforward, right? Well it is, but you must convince a critical mass of pilot customers first. So that is priority number one.
Launch as early as possible
Talking about a business you WANT to start is quite different from successfully starting a business. So my advice: focus and move fast. In our case, it only took us three months to go from an idea to tangible revenue.
OK, why focus? Well, focusing means you’re pushing yourself to find a niche market. In our case: realtors. You must choose one that is close to your passion and experience. Need ideas? Read: Examples of profitable market segments.
Next is pitching your idea to your prospects. Your prospect list is probably substantial (it should be since you would want to serve a substantial market). So who do you pick? Focus on identifiable entrepreneurs within your target group. They can identify with your challenge of starting a business, and they can appreciate the risk-taking. Cold-call them and appeal to their curiosity by asking for feedback on your new business venture. Then, set an appointment for an online meeting (gotomeeting, join.me, etc.) and deliver your pitch (read how to pitch a live chat service ).
About the pilot period
The advantages of selling pilot-participation are numerous. First, it implicitly states you don’t have all the answers yet. It allows room for error. Also, you don’t have to set finite pricing. Again, this period is about learning on both sides.
Your criticall mass
How many pilot customers do you need? Read all about it in this post: Calculating Your Critical Mass of Pilot Customers. It will help you make some crucial choices. Now you know your target and how much is needed to launch, it’s time to dig in and earn their trust.
Step 2: Onboarding your chat agents
But do this only after you are 100 percent positive about acquiring your critical pilot customer mass. You will spend some time recruiting your staff. Since your initial shifts add up to 250 hours a month, you will need to hire roughly 10 agents, assuming each agent works two four-hour shifts per week.
To make sure you onboard the right people, please read Selecting and onboarding your first agent team.
Step 3: Setting your clients up for success
Once you have closed deals with your pilot customers and recruited and trained your agent team, only one last step remains – technical onboarding – in other words, activation of the chat widget on your client website and configuring their accounts in ChatShipper. The latter consists of three elements. 1. Collecting information on your client’s business (referred to as know-how). 2. Connecting the messaging channel. 3. Preparing to ensure a correct delivery of the chat conversation to your client. Oh, and you don’t want to forget to add your chat agents via ChatShipper.
I understand if this sounds a bit vague at this point, but not to worry, we will guide you through the entire process. That’s what we’re here for.
There you have it. Everything you need to start a successful chat center in a matter of a few months. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact ChatShipper at any time.