I just wrote an article for ICMI’s Call Center Insider newsletter that deals with three topics that aren't usually talked about in the same breath: contact centers, green building and acoustics.
As annoyed as many of us feel when we get a sales call in the middle of dinner (or, in my mother’s case, the middle of one of her favorite TV shows, Coronation Street), the people who work in contact centers are also the ones to whom we turn when we have a problem.
Whether we're trying to use a new electronic gadget, installing software, reporting a lost credit card or checking on insurance coverage, these people are here for us and they need to be able to give us good customer support. We want them to be attentive, accurate and courteous.
Unfortunately, contact center reps are often distracted, stressed and exhausted because the environment they're in doesn't support the kind of work they're doing. While they're given access to the technology they need to perform their duties, attention isn't always paid to the significant role acoustics plays in their day-to-day activities.
These facilities tend to be densely occupied, meaning more noise is generated and more people are within earshot of each other. Workstation partitions are often lower in order to allow managers to see their teams. And, unfortunately, many green building trends (open ceilings, hard interior materials and alternative HVAC methods) intensify these already poor acoustic conditions, affecting concentration, privacy and overall comfort. The result can be reduced output, increased errors, absenteeism and turnover – all costly issues for contact centers.
And because noise affects reps’ performance, it can also impact our experience when we call for help. Stressed employees are less able to manage negative emotions or display empathy. In many cases, we can even hear a cocktail-party-like din in the background while we’re talking to them.
Lightening our ecological footprint is a good thing, but in order to be truly sustainable, buildings also need to be supportive of the work being done inside of them.
A green contact center with great acoustics is possible, but must be planned. You can read more about this topic in my article Green Design and the Acoustic Performance of Contact Centers on ICMI's website.