Does Your Call Center Need to be in a Centralized Location?
In “ What Is a Call Center?” we defined a call center as “a centralized location where calls are answered or made.” This is the traditional, literal definition. The reality, however, is that with today’s advanced technology, a call center no longer needs to be in a centralized location. Here are some benefits of not having a call center located in one centralized place: Home Based Agents: Sometimes an otherwise good call center agent can’t make it to your office. This might be because of transportation issues, distance from the call center (such as being a city or state away), or a non-job related physical restriction. (While laudable, childcare and eldercare are not good reasons as those responsibilities could keep staff from handling phone calls at the time you need them the most.) Also, work-at-home agents tend to be more loyal and have a longer tenure, since they appreciate the option of working at home and have fewer similarly accommodating job opportunities to consider. Networked Locations: Interconnecting two call centers increases the economy of scale, as calls can flow between locations in the most efficient manner. This boosts staff productivity, reduces overall payroll, and improves the level of service provided to callers. Plus if one center has weather-related issues or a local emergency that keeps staff from the office, the other location can help pick up extra calls. Tap a New Labor Market: If you have difficulty finding good help in your local labor market, opening a second, networked location in a good job market can provide access to quality employees. Consider a location near a college or in an economically depressed region. Find Lower Cost Labor: Some areas, especially in major cities, have exorbitant living costs, which necessitate correspondingly high compensation rates. Sometimes the high cost of labor can make staffing a call center cost-prohibitive. Instead of shutting down the call center and relocating it, just open an offsite location in an area with lower labor costs. Capitalize on Time Zone Differences: Most people want a 9 to 5 job. Most call centers have extended hours and many operate 24/7. This can provide staffing challenges in filling evening and overnight shifts. However, having locations in other time zones, especially other countries, can reduce or even eliminate time zone staffing concerns. In each of these examples, the functionality of the call center extends beyond a singular, centralized operation, either to strategic ancillary locations or effectively into agents’ homes. Despite these advantages, however, there are also some downsides for not having all your staff in one place, but we’ll leave that discussion for a future post. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier consultancy for corporate call centers, whose team possesses decades of relevant business and call center experience. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-901-7706.Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.