How to Set Up a World-Class Call Center

Updated: April 30, 2009

There are call centers and there are world-class call centers. What's the difference? Well, plain old call centers function at a barely operational level in facilities that are inadequately designed and equipped. World-class call centers, on the other hand, are run by organizations that make a serious commitment to employee productivity and customer service by designing and outfitting their facilities thoughtfully and with the best equipment and technologies.Creating a world-class call center requires both time and careful planning, not to mention money. Here's a quick rundown of the key points you'll need to consider.

Technologies

Software: No one size or type fits all. Applications should be selected on the basis of features, interoperability and usability. Custom software is best, but off-the-shelf applications can be used as long as they are customized to meet your call center's needs.

Voice Network: You'll probably want to base your network on VoIP technology to take advantage of the technology's cost, software integration and call-routing benefits.

Servers: Look down the road and acquire systems with enough speed, memory and storage scalability to handle your call center's operations for at least three years.

Displays: LCDs save power and space, and they're easy on the eyes. The screens should be large enough to accommodate your software's graphical interfaces without creating eyestrain.

Headsets: Ear gear should be tight yet comfortable. Detachable components promote good hygiene.

Keyboards: To prevent repetitive-motion injuries, make sure the keyboards are adjustable and aren't too stiff or lightweight.

Layout

Floor Plan: The best way to determine the ideal floor plan is to try a variety of different options to maximize the number of agents per square foot while still providing an effective flow. A program like Autodeks's AutoCAD can be a big help in designing an efficient layout.

Space: Is there enough physical space to accommodate the number of planned agents? Have you planned for future growth?

Aisles: The aisles between workstations should be wide enough to allow for efficient movement and meet local building-code regulations.

Workstations: Workstation furniture should be selected and configured to help agents handle their tasks efficiently and with minimal wasted movement. Look for full-service manufacturers that provide not only agent furniture systems, but also storage cabinets, meeting tables, chairs, and administrative and executive office furniture. You'll end up with a more cohesive system at a better price than you would working with disparate vendors.

Supervisor Stations: Supervisors need to see and be seen. Make sure your layout has positioned supervisory personnel in central and prominent locations.

Noise Control: Noise-abatement techniques, such as wall and cubicle soundproofing, as well as noise-canceling headsets, will enhance call quality while boosting agent productivity.

Ergonomics: Workstations, chairs and computer-input equipment should all feature ergonomic designs.

Power

Design: Will power be dropped in from the ceiling or will it come up from the floor?

Outlets: Are there enough outlets to support all the equipment that will be used?

Wiring: To prevent dangerous snags and trips, wiring and cables should be totally concealed — in the flooring, the walls and the furniture.

Backup: An emergency generator can keep your center running independently of the main power grid. At the very least, in the event of a power failure, a generator can allow the center to power down gradually and safely.

Environmental Considerations

Heating/Cooling: People and equipment both need adequate environmental controls. Call centers that are too cold or hot degrade agent performance and potentially shorten equipment life.

Air Filtering: Dusty, dirty air can make agents drowsy, burn their eyes and provoke allergies. Dust can also gum up equipment, so invest in a high-quality air-filtering system.

Lighting: Good lighting is an often-overlooked design element. Dim, overly bright or improperly positioned lights can drain agent productivity. The money spent on hiring a lighting expert won't be wasted.

Security: Closely analyze your call center for security weaknesses. You'll need to address three areas: technology security (affecting networks, servers, software and other technologies), physical security (affecting the call-center site) and employee security (including background checks , security-level administration and security training). Overlooking any of these areas can lead to serious long-term consequences.

Designing and building a world-class call center isn't easy or cheap. But since the center is your business's most prominent customer-contact point, it's one area you don't want to scrimp on.

Featured Research
  • The New 2017 Contact Center Comparison Guide

    We’ve put together a comparison guide that covers over 40 of the top call center software options, providing details on pricing, features, support, and integrations. If you want to save time and still make a great investment, this guide is a must read. more

  • Best Practices for Contact Center Quality Assurance

    A contact center often brings about a prospect’s first real-time interaction with your company. As such, if it’s not a positive one, they’ll likely look elsewhere for help. With 69% of Americans more inclined to recommend a company to friends and family after a positive customer service experience, you’ll need to exceed expectations on the following fronts. more

  • How to Make Your Contact Center More Efficient

    There’s a very good chance that your contact center is underperforming. With consumer preferences continuously changing, strategies that were once effective now result in too many unsatisfied customers. Fixing this problem involves reviewing your current procedures and optimizing them to drive better results. more

  • How Analytics Can Improve Your Call Center

    Do you know that 40% of contact centers have no data analysis tools, despite analytics being voted the top factor to change the shape of the industry within the next five years? This guide will outline the importance of call center analytics, and explore the many ways that analytics can help you improve your call center on every level. more

  • 8 Signs It's Time to Update Your Call Center Software

    Technology is always improving to meet the needs and expectations of businesses and customers alike. To make sure you’re providing the service your customers require and deserve, it’s vital to use up-to-date software solutions that fully support your customer service needs and company expansion goals. more