Impact Learning Systems


How Workspace Design Affects Call Center Employee Satisfaction Monica Postell

Effective Workspace DesignCall 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.

With a back­ground in per­for­mance improve­ment and instruc­tional design, Mon­ica Postell works with Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems in design­ing and deploy­ing train­ing and devel­op­ment pro­grams that fos­ter real cus­tomer loyalty.
Mon­ica Postell
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  • John Castaldi

    So true, well said.

  • Enkata

    "just hav­ing a view of the out­doors increased pro­duc­tiv­ity by 6 –7%"

    Holy cow! It's amaz­ing what a lit­tle sun­shine and some grass can do. Why not add a few pic­nic benches so agents can eat lunch outside?

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