So you've been in the customer service racket for a while, and now you're thinking it's time to venture out on your own.
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A customer service consulting firm sounds like a great way to make a living, but are you really prepared for everything that entails?
Make no bones about it – the decision to become a consultant is a decision to launch a small business and requires all the same preparation as any other startup operation. But a startup customer service consulting firm also requires attention to details that are unique to the industry.
Step #1: Review Your Qualifications
Before you rush out and do something drastic (like quit your job), you need to make sure you have enough qualifications to make customer service consulting a viable career alternative. Customer service work experience is usually not enough to justify launching your own consulting business. Although consultants working in this field have a background in customer service, they also have experience in organizational management and possibly even consulting. If your credentials aren't up to snuff, you should consider working as a consultant for someone else before you start your own firm.
Step #2: Research
The next step is to research the potential market for your services. Start by establishing your geographic area and identifying the potential customers who reside within your territory. If your territory is located in an area with a high density of call center companies, there's a good chance it is already populated by a sizeable number of customer service consultants. Make a list of your competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, a gap will appear in the marketplace that can be filled by consulting business.
Step #3: Create a Business Plan
Once you have identified a possible niche, it's time to create a business plan detailing how your consulting business will establish a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The plan should specifically describe the services your firm will offer and how those services are different from what is currently being offered by the competition. Additionally, your business plan should discuss your firms' strengths and weaknesses, short and long-term goals, strategies, and projected financial figures. It's important to maintain a realistic perspective during the planning phase. Overly optimistic projections don't accomplish anything aside from temporarily easing your anxiety about becoming a business owner.
Step #4: Market & Promote Your Services
The last step in launching a customer service consulting business is to spread the word about your services. Existing relationships with contacts in the customer service field are usually the best place to begin building a client base. However, you should also begin targeting businesses that emerged as strong possibilities during the research stage. Invest in professionally prepared promotional materials and start knocking on doors. Somewhere along the way, you may also want to consider what steps need to be taken to establish a brand in your territory and differentiate your business from the competition.