Dialing Up
Planning Strategies to Support Agents in the New Contact Center
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Planning Strategies to Support Agents in the New Contact Center

Formerly considered a back-office operation for taking customer complaints, with equally overlooked office décor, today’s contact centers command attention from the C-suite down.

As organizations recognize the value of customer loyalty, they acknowledge the significance of those connections made between employees and their customers.

No longer named simply “call centers,” “contact center” and “customer care” refer to the central workspaces of customer service agents whose jobs have been elevated as companies appreciate their contribution to image and success.

Using telephones, email and live chat, today’s agents interact with customers 24/7, providing technical support, handling inbound or outbound sales, monitoring and responding to social media, and more. Staffers range from entry level customer service representatives to engineers who troubleshoot software and bankers who advise on retirement accounts. As the first line of contact with current and future customers, agents play a crucial role in achieving customer satisfaction as well as growing new business.

With the cost of new customer acquisition estimated at 5 to 25 times the cost of retaining a current customer1, companies have a lot at stake in how they treat their existing customers. While yesterday’s disgruntled customer might have told 10 people about their experience, today, thanks to social media, a dissatisfied user might reach 1,000 others with a single click.

Knoll spoke with designers, clients and real estate specialists to identify emerging trends that affect the design and planning of contact centers and learn the requirements of their occupants. This paper compiles feedback and shares solutions and best practices for designing winning contact centers.

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No longer a back-office afterthought, today’s contact center commands a comfortable, engaging environment for agents who are a critical link in a company’s customer-focused, omnichannel strategy. As firms place increasingly greater weight on customer loyalty, the value of front-facing customer service agents rises as well. Our research shows that successful contact center environments include:

1. Ergonomic furniture and layouts that share daylight to foster wellness

2. A broad variety of shared spaces that allow agents to de-stress and take a break

3. Suitable acoustic treatments to maintain a comfortable sound level

4. Adaptable layouts that support informal coaching and simplified reconfigurations

5. Efficient designs that optimize space and keep amenities within close reach

6. Engaging environments that express company culture to recruit and retain agents

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