Call centers are often known as “cost centers” because, historically speaking, one of their highest costs is associated with turnover; they are a necessary, yet expensive part of the organization. Call centers play a strategic role and are often the voice of a brand, and company perceptions can be made or broken by the quality of the experience customers have with the call center, based on how wonderful – or aggravating – the experience is.
Another well-known industry fact is that call center employee satisfaction has a direct correlation with employee retention. A common cause? A lack, or insufficient amount of call center customer service training, but a second, often overlooked component has to do with the work environment itself.
Beyond ergonomics: It takes more than a comfortable chair to increase employee satisfaction
When you see the words “improve the working environment,” are you picturing a simple investment in your call center’s ergonomic chairs or something such as purchasing better keyboards? True, both are important, but the entirety of the workplace space can have marked effects on call center employee satisfaction. In fact, recent studies have shown that humans have strong reactions to design – on a visceral level. In fact, good design, it has been shown, can increase creativity, motivation, and productivity. Everything from the colors of a space, to the shapes in the environment, to things like being able to see the outdoors, can have dramatic effects.
So the question naturally follows: Are these changes in design measurably impactful on call center employee satisfaction and retention metrics? The answer is yes, and dramatically. In studies of call centers, just having a view of the outdoors increased productivity by 6 –7%, resulting in savings of approximately $3000, per employee.
In a case study of how design affects call center employee satisfaction, a call center in Pensacola, Florida hired Herman Miller to come in and completely redo cubicle layouts, wall colors, and the lighting. Prior to the redesign, the call center had a (not untypical) turnover rate of 60%. And after the redesign? The turnover rate decreased to 17%.
Call center employee satisfaction is multi-faceted
It’s true that keeping call center employee satisfaction high requires multiple adjustments to the workplace, but the end result remains the same: satisfied employees will tend to stay employed with a company longer, and most importantly, when they’re happy, they reflect their mood and your brand to your customers.
Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind when examining your company’s space and your call center customer satisfaction:
Training is key: Painting the walls a designer color, allowing each employee to have unlimited views of the outdoors, and creating bright, cheery lighting and desk spaces will not give you a return on your investment if your employees don't receive the kind of call center training that enables them to do their best at their jobs.
Invest in training: Improving call center customer satisfaction can’t be done by simply reading a book or a manual on best practices. It requires an investment in call center training, which looks holistically at your management team and your employees. Your customer service management team needs to understand the environment, motivation factors, and how to truly help and mentor your call center employees. Your employees need to have confidence in their training so they can comfortably address customers’ needs and represent your company and brand positively.
Once your employees are well trained, take a close look at their workspace: Cramming your well-trained employees into tiny workspaces and treating them like sardines will not likely improve call center employee satisfaction rates. Employees want to feel valued, respected, and they want to look forward to coming to a work environment that is pleasant and comfortable. Take a hard look at the workspace, the technology you’re employing, the ergonomics of their desk spaces, and the physical lighting and color in the environment. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that workspace adjustments won’t be worth the added investment.
Invest in design: We’re not all born-design experts, and good call center design requires more than just wall color. There are factors with how the technology is integrated, the division and arrangement of the desks and cubicle spaces, and the subtleties in lighting that can have a dramatic impact on call center employee satisfaction.
Like with all call center customer service improvements, careful investments and training really can pay off. Design of the workspace is no exception.