Tips on Setting Up Your Call Center Floor
How We Set Up Our USA Customer Service Outsourcing Floor
We have 503 cubicles; that includes the supervisor stations that are at the end of our rows. The stations that we use are a combination of 3’ D X 4’ W call center booths. We also use s-shaped stations that are a little bit wider. We use those for programs that require two monitors. About 80% of the stations are the 3’ X 4’s and 20% are the s-shaped call center stations.
Naming The Call Center Computers
A couple of tips on the naming convention: Don’t get cute.
Call the station something that is easy to recognize. We have three call center rooms. The Main, West, and East call center.
We’ve tried to get cute and name them after famous streets like Bourbon Street and Penny Lane for our different isles and we also named the computers that way but it just got too confusing so I don’t suggest that.
Be a little more technical when it comes to the name of your call center stations. We name the computer that is to be put on our network and then we also put the inContact, or if you’re using a cloud provider you have what’s called the station ID or some type of identifier for your Cloud telephony platform. We put that number on there too and when each agent logs in they know what station they are at and the station ID when they have to put that into their inContact. We use a label maker and stick it onto the top right-hand corner of the computer.
Buying Computers for Your Call Center
If you’re buying new brand new computers you’re making a vastly horrible financial decision.
We purchase all of our computers online through a couple of different sites. Email me if you want the name of some of the companies.
We will not pay more than $400 for a computer. Most of the computers are between the $300- $350 range and they are refurbished Windows 10 professional computers. They have one terabyte of memory and are super-fast work machines. We normally use all-in-ones, so 90% of our computers are 23-inch all-in-one Lenovo’s. They are what we have found to be the hardest-working machines.
You don’t need a lot of memory. We’re not housing things on the actual computers. We’re really just connecting to the internet and making sure that we have a good and fast computer for our reps to work on.
Call Center Operations
We have a supervisor ratio of about 16:1. That’s the average for some of our programs, but it can be as low as 10:1.
Each of the Reps will have the same supervisor every single day and they will also sit in the same station every day. It doesn’t mean that they own the station because we have multiple shifts. So somebody that’s working a 9 to 3 shift will use a single station every day and then someone working 3 to 11 will use the same station every day. They might share that station, and we want them to at least be sitting in their same home every single day or as close to that as possible with the same supervisor who knows them.
The previous podcast on how we set goals and how we talk to each of the reps every morning, is really important because it discusses how to build the relationship between the supervisor and the associate on their team.
When it comes to hanging things in the booth, we have a little bit of an issue with that. We give our reps picture plates that they can put pictures of their family in. We try to be as paperless as we possibly can and with some of our clients, we’re totally paperless so there can be absolutely nothing including those pictures in the station.
It’s a security thing that we think is important. If anything needs to be hung, we laminate it and give it a policy number to make sure it stays in there so it can never be taken out. There’s a little bit of paranoia but we’re dealing with other clients and we can’t make mistakes. We do everything that we possibly can to curb any type of issues that may arise.
White Noise in Your Call Center
We also use white noise in one of our centers. I go back and forth on this and depending on how you have it set up, it can be helpful. Sometimes, to me, it can be annoying but the reps seem to like it especially in some of the louder areas.
Headsets for Your Call Center
We don’t spend a lot of money on headsets, but we have really good ones. We’ve tried out probably five or six different types of headsets. The ones that we use you can find on Amazon for $23. They’re noise-canceling headsets and they last for about a year before they need to be replaced, which I think is pretty good.
Call Center Staff Structure
So we’ve discussed our supervisor ratio being 16:1. The training area which we call our Incubation Room is where our reps are trained before they come out onto the floor. That can be as low as 5:1 in that training aspect, then the reps go to the floor where they are introduced to their team.
From a QA standpoint, we double the ratio between the supervisor to what QA is. So if we’re at a 15:1 ratio for the supervisor we normally do a 30:1 ratio with our QA staff. Again, that’s client dependent on what we’re contractually obligated to from a monitoring standpoint. We’ve found that we can be at that number because of speech analytics. We try to rotate the QA staff on different programs that they are trained on so that they aren’t listening to the same people and getting bored.
We also like to rotate our management trainees throughout the QA area as well. That’s a big piece of understanding the scoring aspect and what to listen to. In our 16:1, we have at least one team lead who’s been there for a while or a management trainee and they get paid more and can help a little bit. The majority of our extra management team who’s on the phone is a management trainee.
On the floor, the supervisor has a 16:1 ratio. They will have about 15 reps and then one management trainee or one team lead to help them or give each other a break. It also helps them get into the groove of being a management person. We’ve done a whole management trainee podcast as well.
Technology in the Call Center
Let’s talk about some of the physical things in the room like TV’s. We have 50” flat screens that are dispersed throughout the room. We initially tried to disperse them by one TV per team but that can be a little bit difficult with the number of clients that have come on board.
On the TV’s we put up the stats of the people that are around that TV, company news, and any games that we are playing. Another little tip I would suggest is if you’re not sure how to utilize the TV’s, is to look into Intel Compute Sticks. We use them on all of our TVs. They are like a 4-inch computer that basically has an HDMI plug. They’re Windows 10 and if you get a wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard then you can actually control the TV from another location. There are absolutely no wires and it’s super slick and super cool.
I actually bring them when we have a client visit or when I’m giving any type of pitch to a new client. When I fly out to LA, I just bring my compute stick and plug it into the back of their TV. It provides me with a really cool wireless setup that I think makes a good first impression from a technology standpoint. So that’s something to check out as well.
The Importance of No Cell Phones and Security
We have no cell phones on our call center floor. A lot of the centers that I’ve been at do not have that policy especially the internal call center guys, but it can be done. Make sure that you set up some areas off the call center floor where they can use their cell phone. But we have a policy that if a cell phone is seen or heard on the floor, it’s an automatic suspension.
It goes back to the security aspects of who we’re dealing with. If we have financial services clients, we have to be PCI compliant and there’s a lot that plays into that. We’ve been able to train our staff into this policy and it’s become a cultural thing to where they understand not to bring it on the floor.
In regards to the cell phone policy, I’m sure you have concerns that you’ll get too much push back and that people will quit. You won’t. And I think it’s really important especially because of the type of calls that they may be taking that they don’t have those on the floor.
Payroll and Billing
The other question I get a lot is, “How do we pay our reps?” or “What mechanism do we use to pay them?”
We utilize TSheets, which I think is a pretty cool Quicken product. With TSheets, we have iPads set up in a kiosk which gives us a little bit more control. The kiosks are set up all throughout the call center and reps can punch-in and punch-out on them. It’s pretty cool because it has facial recognition and if the system does not recognize the person punching in or out, then HR will get an email asking to verify them. This makes it so we don’t have other people punching in for others, which obviously could be a problem.
We also do all of our billing off of it too, so let’s say you’re an internal call center and you want to track customer service calls or sales calls to tier 1, tier 2, or tier 3 types of calls and the amount of time that each rep is on the call. Obviously, you can do that from your telephony platform but a lot of times it gets confusing when you’re paying people from different tiers. For example, someone logged in at tier-1 who gets paid a certain rate logs off, and then someone logs into tier 3 that gets paid at a different rate. This system allows us to change the different projects for different rates of pay and for different clients we bill.
So that’s a snapshot of how we have our room set up and how we operate on a day to day from a physical structure. Also, make sure your rows are wide enough. Make sure that people aren’t bumping into each other. Make sure that the chairs that you give your reps are comfortable.
One of the biggest folly’s that we’ve seen is that you may be getting chairs for a good deal, but they’re super uncomfortable and the reps revolt on that. Have a committee for office furniture and accessories whether it’s headsets, chairs or a new mouse. Make sure that the reps have the buy-in because that’ll save you from a lot of pain once you order them and they hate it. It’s something that I have definitely gone through and it is not fun.
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