March 23, 2017
As we’ve written on this blog before, the contact center and agent environment is an exercise in efficiency. How can an organization receive and respond to a large body of phone calls, emails, social media messages, and other forms of communication in the most efficient manner while still maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction?
It’s no easy challenge, and contact center managers should take advantage of any edge they can find to improve their agent’s performance and their customer’s experience.
The low hanging fruit often involves sophisticated technology tools like intelligent routing, call back features, agent whisper, and a number of other features proven to increase the effectiveness of the contact center. However, there are less obvious methods of increasing performance. One of which is optimizing the agent environment. It may be time for a contact center remodel.
Contact Center Remodel: Lighting, Windows, and Airflow
In a study conducted by members of RLW Analytics, Inc.; Heschong Mahone Group Inc.; and California Energy Commission, researchers were able to find statistically significant improvements in agent performance based on environmental factors. The study looked at 100 contact center agents working in an incoming contact center in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. They used a computer program to continually track and record data on handle times for each call as they manipulated environmental conditions. The study lasted from September through November, and the month actually impacted the effectiveness of each environmental factor.
- HVAC: each agent had access to a ventilation register near their feet, and the study tried to note what effect fresh airflow would have on agent performance. Personal fans appear to have no impact on performance, but a floor register left completely open creates a 10% performance boost in September as opposed to just a 3% boost in November. We can likely attribute this to the change in seasons as Sacramento can still be rather warm in September before becoming milder in November.
- A View: Having a view to the outdoors had a surprising impact on agent performance. Comparing those who had a view wherein the window almost completely covers the agent’s view from their desk to agents without no outdoor view at all, the agents seated next to the window performed 6% faster in September but had no impact on performance in November.
- Partitions: According to this study, adding a partition around an agent’s desk had a negative effect on agent performance. When comparing those with no partition to agents with the highest partition in the contact center, those agent’s with the partition performed 11% slower.
How Do You Respond?
It’s tempting to run away with the information found in this study. Place every agent next to a window with no partitions and a vent blowing air on them, and suddenly your contact center will be 6-11% more productive. That’s a strong reaction to have from one study.
Instead, it’s important to recognize that the working environment does have an effect, and as contact center managers, you should remain aware of that. Whether or not a significant contact center remodel needs to be done will vary from company to company, but there are a few simple guidelines to follow.
Try to let in more natural light, allow your agents a view of the outdoors, and keep the office comfortable. Recognize that these factors will play a role in your overall performance even if it is difficult to track their impact in your particular environment.
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