Customer service can make or break a business. When a customer calls in with a question, problem, or concern, the way they're treated often determined whether they will remain a customer or buy from a competitor. Service also determines how well a customer's problem is addressed and, ultimately, whether the business does a good job solving it.This is why a customer service consulting business is so valuable. It helps businesses and firms improve their customer service by doing customer surveys, offering customer service training lessons, examining the workflow of customer service processes, or trying to develop an improved culture of service.
Learn how to start your own Customer Service Consulting Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a customer service consulting business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Customer Service Consulting Business
- Form your Customer Service Consulting Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Customer Service Consulting Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Customer Service Consulting Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Customer Service Consulting Business
- Get Customer Service Consulting Business Insurance
- Define your Customer Service Consulting Business Brand
- Create your Customer Service Consulting Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your customer service consulting business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Customer Service Consulting Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a customer service consulting business?
Costs involved in starting an agency are minimal. You can start with less than $1,000. You will need a CRM system for managing your clients, a computer, and a phone.
What are the ongoing expenses for a customer service consulting business?
Ongoing expenses for a customer service consulting business are minimal. Basically, you have to cover rent and utilities and costs for whatever customer relationship management software you use.
Who is the target market?
Target market are successful businesses that have hit a sticking point in revenues and profit and need help improving customer relationships so they can break through to the next level.
How does a customer service consulting business make money?
Customer service consulting companies make money by charging clients fees for consultation services.
How much can you charge customers?
Most customer service consultants can charge clients between $100/hr and $300/hr for services. The exact charge depends on your experience in the industry and your name recognition. The more successful you are, the more you can charge.
How much profit can a customer service consulting business make?
Profitability is high. Most consulting companies can make a 20% profit margin if they hire assistants to help them with their consulting business. If you're working alone, your margin is higher, but your total income may be less. Average consultant income ranges between $60,000 per year and $150,000 per year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Make your business more profitable by partnering with non-competing firms to offer ancillary services. For example, a company may need more than just customer service help. They may need a coordinated marketing and customer service overhaul. If you can provide that to them, then you stand to make more money by consolidating both services into one.
You can also try increasing your fees over time as you gain experience.
Finally, consider creating tiered service levels, where you hire assistants to perform routine consulting jobs based on a service template you design. These lower-cost services could add substantially to your base income.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your customer service consulting business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
Federal Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a customer service consulting business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Certificate of Occupancy
Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a customer service consulting business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your customer service consulting business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
Customer service consulting businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Customer Service Consulting Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Customer Service Consulting Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a customer service consulting business
Promote your services locally through the newspaper, online on your social media accounts, and through pay-per-click advertising. Reach out to local businesses and ask them if you could conduct a free customer service study for them. If they agree, analyze their business and offer to improve sales through better customer service.
How to keep customers coming back
Retaining customers is easy. As long as you can improve profits for them, most businesses will be happy to keep hiring you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
This business is perfect for individuals with good people skills and a drive to facilitate good communication between two or more people.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a customer service consulting business?
A day in the life of a consulting company consists of meeting with clients, following up with prospects and managing client attitude and behaviors.
Most consulting firms spend a lot of time researching their clients' customers and target market. This takes up the bulk of the time spend on a client's project. For example, a consulting company working with a coffee shop might spend a significant amount of time researching the local demographic, comparing it to how much the coffee shop charges for its coffee and teas, what type of clientele it is trying to serve, the coffee shop's location, and so on.
If a coffee shop owner is serving a high-end client, who demands microlots and custom brews, including hand poured coffee, then service should be focused on providing a unique experience for each customer. This is not the type of coffee shop that sells coffee as a commodity.
A consultant might stress the need for knowledgeable baristas with years of experience, education, and training.
If, on the other hand, a coffee shop is mass marketing its coffee to a middle or low-income market, then the customer service strategy might be more focused on providing fast and polite service.
Consulting companies must also document all recommendations to their clients, maintain excellent records and, of course, provide excellent service to its own clients. Consulting companies also typically provide monthly or quarterly reports to clients.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful customer service consulting business?
Excellent management, and customer service, is a must. If you do not know how to talk to people, you obviously cannot sell that service to others. Aside from that, you must have good organizational skills and the ability to communicate your message effectively to another company's management.
Working for another consulting agency helps you "get your feet wet," and also gives you the relevant experience.
A business degree may help, but customer service strategies are often driven by experience as opposed to academic theory or study.
What is the growth potential for a customer service consulting business?
Companies are typically run as small agencies. However, larger companies do exist. Some of them cross over from customer service to providing a blend of customer service and management consulting, like McKinsey & Co., Accenture and Marsh & McLennan.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a customer service consulting business?
Work in industries you understand. It helps to have experience in industries other than consulting. For example, if you've been a successful restaurateur in several different markets for 20 years, you probably have a good idea about how to improve customer service in that industry.
You understand the unique challenges of the restaurant business as well as the clientele that frequent various types of restaurants. A 5-star French restaurant, for example, will have a very different client base than an Italian sandwich shop.
How and when to build a team
Build a team only as and when needed. This is a business that's difficult to scale because it depends on your unique insights into a particular industry or business. Hire support staff (when you can afford it) to take over mundane tasks, like bookkeeping and HR.
Real World Examples
- 11 Customer Service Fix A Consultant Would Make At Your Company
- How To Deal With Challenging Clients
- In Customer Service Consulting, Disney's Small World Is Growing