Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
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.
NEVER MISS A CALL
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.
What do I need? Equipment and Technology
To set up a cloud based contact center system, 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!
INDUSTRY SERVICE TIPS
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. 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.
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.
Why Smaller Centers Matter?
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.
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.
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.
Amenities, Get me out!
The contact center is often overlooked for spending any time, money and attention to how it looks and feels because many times customers are not allowed at contact centers. Sales people don’t meet clients at the contact center. As a result, companies typically don’t invest in the appearance yet the people who work there care a great deal since they spend hours in the contact center.
Here are some things to consider:
The better agents are treated, the better they’ll treat customers. Put agents in a pleasant environment with comfortable furnishings and they’re more likely to maintain a patient, friendly attitude than if their workplace is hot, cramped, and depressing.
Create a showcase for the corporate image; corporate tours tend to wind through the contact center as contact centers become central to business strategy. Make it look and feel great. Make it something to be proud of.
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.
Flextime 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.
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.
VIDEO FROM OUR EXPERTS
NETWORKING FOR CONTACT CENTER PROFESSIONALS
NACSMA brings together like-minded professionals focused on advancing the customer contact industry and creating career growth.
Management of a best-in-class contact center sites require the continuous review of Agent Sourcing Models, Organizational Training and Management Development Programs.
NACSMA is a professional, non-profit association whose members represent customer contact organizations and the vendors who support them.
When a contact center organization expands to an additional site or requires new space, the steps to properly implement are unique to each organization but do have standard phases.