North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Step 2 Reorganizing Contact Centers


Breaking up contact centers into smaller sites isn’t so difficult when you use cloud based contact center software.

It has changed how contact centers can be organized. In the old days with an expensive physical switch on the premise, companies had little choice but to house thousands of agents under one roof. Today with hosted contact center software, sites can be as small as one!

Why would you break up mega contact centers into smaller sites? I’m glad you asked? Cloud based contact center platforms allow contact centers to be more neighborhood-centric, tapping into more labor pools, more local amenities like restaurants and shopping as well as healthcare and public transportation and shorter commutes for their agents.

To set up a cloud based contact center phone systems, you need a data connection that is reliable, fast and safe.

Fiber is preferable due to its speed and symmetrical bandwidth that allows for much longer transmission distances and security. Fiber is completely dedicated to your business, making it private. Not sharing lines makes for a higher level of security. Fiber is made of glass; you must literally break it to breach the connection. Copper can be compromised and hacked much more easily. While fiber is more expensive in the short run, the benefits make it less expensive in the long run. Regardless of how big or small, having a sufficient data connection to a commercial building is paramount to any site selection. Fiber is the only sufficient choice for a contact center. This may be a challenge while looking for smaller centers in neighborhoods, but it is not impossible. A good site selector has a map of where the fiber is laid and this will take the guesswork out. Don’t give up on the neighborhood concept because you can’t find it.

Next, you need computers with an operating system no older than two years, an internet connection and a headset. Your agents are now ready to take calls!

Employees want to step out at lunch to not only eat but to run a quick errand. Location! Location! Location!

How close is your contact center to other businesses? Is the contact center so remote that employees must bring their lunch or eat the same cheese pizza provided by the site manager everyday? Boring! People want to integrate work and personal activities. A transportation company moved their contact center to a remote suburban location and there wasn’t a place to eat within 20 minutes of the contact center. There was absolutely nothing out there. The recruiters were overwhelmed with the constant hiring due to their turnover spiking from 50% to 90% within the first 6 weeks. There were no amenities within walking distance.

A couple of large banks thought it would be a great idea to put their contact centers next to the airport. The airport location is mostly likely convenient for the executives flying in. While there were many airport related businesses, it was 20 minutes to the closest lunch spot and with only 45 minutes for lunch it was not too realistic to get out for lunch. The noise from the planes landing made it impossible to sit outside and make a phone call. This location offered no amenities for employees.

Take a ride around the prospective building and check out where employees can get a quick sandwich. People tire of bag lunches and pizza and it’s an energy boost for people to get out of the building and see sunshine! Remote sites get cheaper cost per square foot but the cost of agent turnover and higher hourly rates to incentivize is even higher.

My Doctor Is Across Town
Is the dentist and doctor’s office close by? Agents have healthcare needs and until doctors start working second shift and weekends, agents need to leave during the day to attend appointments. The less time out of the contact center reduces staffing shortages. Make travel time to and from doctor appointments easily accessible.

Flex-Time for All
Agents appreciate flextime on their commutes to and from the contact center. Evaluate the traffic patterns and get creative with shift start times. This is a free amenity that everyone enjoys. Start teams at different times so not everyone has to fight rush hour. Having a stressful commute can really put an agent in the wrong frame of mind and can turn ugly when it gets taken out on a caller. Consider the agent’s drive in and out. Depending on the wage, agents are not willing to tolerate long stressful commutes for little pay and benefits. Make it a stress-free commute and agents will line up to work at your center.

Transportation
Motivated people will do whatever it takes to get to work and if that means taking the bus, riding light rail or car-pooling. Where are all the bus stops? How far is the walk? Is it a safe walk? Do you have a lounge for employees to wait in when then arrive too early to start their shifts? How about light-rail stations? Does your contact center offer any incentives to car-pool? Take a ride around the block and look for people walking to stations. Can you make your center close and easy to take public transportation?

Errands, The Gym, and Cocktails
People are busy and will run an errand on the way home. For example, where are the UPS/FedEx locations? Companies no longer accept packages for employees. With online shopping, packages are coming and going more than ever. Companies do provide health club memberships yet employees can’t get to the gym because it’s not conveniently on their commute. Make it easy for people to exercise and relieve the stress of the day.

Agents like to let off steam and want to socialize after work. Where are fun places to meet people and relax? Locating your contact center in neighborhoods that can provide these kinds of amenities that employees want. Make yours the place to be!

Today’s employee wants a short work commute and better work/life balance. Local amenities make it possible. When people can’t carry on with other parts of their lives they reconsider where they work and will look for other contact centers with more amenities.

Today the size of the contact center has a major impact on its success.

Replace the one 1,000-seat center with five 200-seat centers. When an agent moves across town, they can stay with the company and find a center located in their new neighborhood. People like to live close to work.

Small centers of 150 or less are much more nimble than larger centers of 1,500 agents. Smaller sites offer telecom redundancy, accessible labor, improved morale and lower turnover, shorter commutes and less tardiness and absenteeism, as well as being better responsive to special circumstances such as weather, product recalls, outages etc. When you create a family-oriented work environment where employees make friends then tend to stick around because they don’t want to leave friends.

Even medium size sites between 250-350 are nimbler and cost effective than the large 500 plus agents. The new VOIP SaaS technology allows you to rethink how you configure contact centers; yes, this is a mindset shift but one worth making due to the savings. The additional facility costs incurred far outweigh the savings especially reducing the cost of turnover. Multiple sites also provide greater immunity to regional power or telecommunication outages.

Demographics
Placing contact centers into neighborhoods requires a little more digging into the labor pool. Does your agent live here? After you profile your agent with the use of agent assessments you will be crystal clear on what kind of person you are looking for and where to find them. Working with a local site selector and local economic development agency can provide micro-demographic data.

Reduce Turnover
Today’s technology allows contact centers to look and feel very different from the ones of the past. Employees like the smaller size; they feel less like a number and more like a real person making a real contribution. Employees are more engaged and experience higher job satisfaction. When employees feel valued they stick around. Consider smaller contact centers; you will no doubt enjoy lower turnover, higher productivity and higher customer satisfaction scores.

Breaking up the 500-seat contact center into smaller 125 seat sites scattered around the city automatically builds in a Continuity of Operation Plan (COOP) and a Disaster Recovery Plan (DR). Consumers expect businesses to be open regardless of your carrier outage, bad weather or broken equipment. Having a second location is by far the best DR strategy you can implement. Layer on a cloud based contact center system that can auto-detect outages and automatically re-route calls to other locations in an instant. No dropped calls. This happens completely transparent to the customer.
Many companies try to save money on DR plans because it requires additional hardware and resources. Until, for whatever reason, disaster hits and critical data like employee time cards are lost and the company is unable to pay employees then companies take DR more seriously. Don’t wait for disaster to strike first. If there is no DR plan take the initiative and create one.

Tips!

Choose facility types that already have a fiber optic connection to the building. This is too important; don’t count on the carrier to install one.
Contract with your local convention center for a backup location. Bring your laptops and plug into their unlimited data pipe already installed and available. Your agents can be up in a few hours instead of days.

Take the Next Step!

To attract quality agents, you must be neighborhood based. Neighborhoods offer a robust labor pool, close to eateries, bus stops and doctor offices. The available labor pool is the most significant reason to place your contact center into neighborhoods. The turnover wipes out many contact centers because they can’t find people. Sometimes people just need to get out to change the energy and stress of the day. Being able to go for a walk can change someone’s disposition. Locating contact centers into neighborhoods is easy for employees to get to with a few simple amenities allowing agents to integrate work and life.

Busting up large contact centers into smaller sites has never been easier with cloud based contact center software. Your agents simply plug headsets into a computer with Internet and login to the SaaS contact center software and they are ready to take calls. The best connection to your neighborhood site is a fiber optic cable. It may take time to locate a site with fiber, don’t rely on the carrier to install fiber as it can take thousands of dollars and months to years to complete. Don’t skip the fiber this is the most important decision you will make.

Setting up smaller locations builds in a COOP and DR plan. The best DR plan is another location. The best DR plan includes a contact center platform that auto-detects outages and automatically re-routes the calls to other locations. You never miss a call. This DR strategy insures your contact center system is always online, fast, and safe. Don’t take any shortcuts it’s not worth it in the end.

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