North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Phase 2 Strategy - Step 4 Facility Types

Building Types

Typical commercial building types tend to be office buildings, warehouses, retail, and any combination of those spaces. With that said, the size or number of agents matters in determining the type of building the service center is housed in.

The discussion in Site Square Footage and Amenities comes into play in determining the building type. Choosing a warehouse type building might be good if you are housing 3,000 agents but more than likely it is out in nowhere land and therefore has no amenities or public transportation for employees. Hiring folks and keeping them happy will be difficult. The cost per square foot can be very attractive but you must look at what it will cost you in turnover. It may not be the best deal.
There are smaller “warehouse” type buildings in office parks that can work, especially if they have amenities (see the amenities tab) and parking. When I say warehouse I’m talking about a big empty office building. It can have high ceilings, but it has to have windows and normal entryways. It may not have any offices, or very few. It will have lots of space for rows of agent cubes. It can be designed into a clean, modern functioning contact center. Warehouse in this context doesn’t mean dirty concrete floors and a loading dock as a front door!
How can you provide amenities,get a good deal on space and make it easy to get to? There are numerous contact centers housed in office buildings where there are multiple tenants. These can be terrific buildings provided there is ample parking. Contact centers have more employees per square foot than typical offices due to the smaller agent desks and the desks being literally next to each other utilizing as much building space as possible. Sometimes other tenants get vocal because the contact center is hogging up all the parking spaces. And if you have plans for growing and adding agents, while the building may have more space to rent you, do they have more parking spaces?
For example, a big bank opened its contact center and there was no parking. The bank used a shuttle bus to transport agents to and from the contact center to an off-site parking lot, which you can imagine, was a joyful ride for everyone. Employees want a stress-free commute and they want to find a parking spot quickly to get to work on time. Make it easy for people to get to their seats!
A popular model is putting retail on the first floor and non-retail on upper levels. A BPO put a contact center in Phoenix that sits above a big box retail store within a strip mall. In that same strip mall, it has lots of places for lunch, banking, a gym, shopping and places for an after-work cocktail. The multi-level parking garage is in the back and retail customers don’t even know the contact center is up there because agents come in through the parking garage in the back, right onto the second floor. Retail customers park out front. It is really a brilliant model balancing parking, amenities, enough office space, and easy access on and off the freeway.
Choose Existing Contact Centers

Selecting former contact center space does have its advantages as well as its concerns. Here is a short list of items to think about:
-Does it have an updated infrastructure? Is the contact center so old that the cabling will need updating? Old buildings can be difficult and expensive to rewire
-Electrical - can it handle the demands of today’s service centers?
-How old and efficient is the HVAC? No one enjoys replacing these.
-Most importantly and not easily changed is the telecom connection to the building. Is there fiber to this building? What telecom providers are available? Can you get symmetrical connection speeds? If you have to wait 18 months for a fiber connection, you have to ask…is this the right building?
-It may come with furniture; will you need to configure it differently for your center? Will you need to add more cubes/desks? Will you need help from an interior designer to make the old and the new work? Can you blend old and new workstations to make it not only an attractive place to work but productive and cost effective?
Existing centers can speed up the build out time but can also hinder it. Take a closer look at what reusing an existing contact center has to offer. Your site selector will help you assess the pros and cons. The data connection is paramount; give it the respect it deserves and your center will be 21st Century. The cost per square foot can really get management excited but you always get what you pay for. This is a complex decision, make it carefully.
Time Zone

What do time zones have to do with facility type? Good question! Consider what types of calls and what time zones the center will be handling. What will be the operational hours of this service center? Do you anticipate any additional shifts? Due to overwhelming demand for Home Affordability Refinance loans, a West Coast mortgage bank originating mortgages from a contact center added a second shift to handle the unexpected demand and to assist the West Coast customers. West Coast customers typically called for service after their workday and agents were not available. While the bank had a four story parking garage it was full by 9:00 am with 1st shifters. When the second shift came in at 3:30 there was no place to park. The bank moved up first shift to 5:00 AM PST (8:00 EST) giving 1st shifters time to exit the building and more time to work with East coast customers. This also gave second shifters time to enter the building and find their seats. By changing the shifts to match up with time zones they were able to service customers more effectively and resolve the limited parking issue; making it easy for folks to get into their seats. What time zones will your contact center be servicing?
Employee Safety

Since we are talking about operational hours, lets also consider the safety of your employees.

Is the center open 24/7? How safe is it for early 1st shifters to come in? How safe is it for the 2nd and 3rd shifts? Is it in a scary neighborhood? Is it perhaps scary to walk out to the parking garage late at night? What are the crime rates for the area? What can you do to ensure your employees safety? Because if they don’t feel safe they won’t come in to work.
Public Transportation

Does public transportation run to or near your facility? Depending on the wage level of your agent this can be important. Many agents may use public transportation. Check out where the bus stops. How far do employees have to walk from the station/stop to the contact center? How about light rail; where are the stations? Making the contact center accessible helps college students and other entry-level folks get started. This also applies to disabled employees who don’t drive. Make it easy for these folks to get to work. They too want to do a great job and are making a huge effort to be there. Take into consideration public transportation in your site selection.


1. 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.
2. Consider what is important to employees, not just management and/or the owner.

Take the Next Step!

Standing up a new contact center has many moving parts to consider. It is a balancing act to consider factors that are important to both the company and the employees. A qualified site selector can assist in sorting out and prioritizing the different types of buildings, whether new or existing contact centers, where the public transportation is, what crime rates are and local amenities. Take all your stakeholders’ needs and concerns into consideration with regards to choosing a facility. This is a big decision.

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The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.