If you are planning to start a call center, you may safely set aside the age-old recommendation that location is everything. Because your only contact with customers -- or most of them anyway -- will never visit you in person, adequate space is more important than place. Infrastructure and data storage requirements are also vital considerations. Additionally, because the work environment can become quite noisy, the physical layout should not only be comfortable for your employees, but it should also reduce noise.
Square Footage Requirements
Response Design Corp. -- which specializes in call center design -- discusses space requirements in terms of "square feet per seat," recommending that you allow 125 to 150 square feet per seat. "This square footage number applies to all common areas needs, not just the cubical," Response Design notes. As for cubicle space, it cites one call center where each customer service representative was provided a cubicle of 33 square feet. Combining those focuses, if you plan to start with 10 phones, you would need approximately 330 square feet of space for cubicles and an additional 920 to 1,170 square feet for a meeting room, restrooms and data storage.
Determine Infrastructure Requirements
Work with a business telecom consultant to determine infrastructure needs. Internal wiring, the telephone system and bandwidth requirements are among the most important considerations. For example, decide whether standard switched-circuit traditional telephone lines or Voice Over Internet Protocol is the best choice. If you choose VoIP, check to see whether a potential site is already set up for fiber optic network service and whether you can build the costs for any required modifications into the lease payment or whether you need to pay these costs upfront. Bandwidth refers to the rate of data transmission, which in turn determines both the speed and efficiency of your Internet connections.
Optimize the Data Storage Environment
To ensure up time and system reliability, install data equipment in an enclosed room equipped with a separate air conditioning system and humidity monitoring equipment. Avtech Software, Inc., a firm that specializes in data center temperature and environmental controls, recommends an ambient room temperature of between 68 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity level between 45 percent and 55 percent.
Purchase Software and Equipment
In his book “Comdex Call Center Training Course Kit,” author and entrepreneur Vikas Gupta recommends that all new call centers start with five basic technologies. These include an Internet connection, an automated call distributor, an interactive voice response system, computer telephony integration and customer contact tools. If your focus is on outbound calls, you’ll also need predictive dialing software. Each agent will also need a computer and a headset. Prices for software and equipment vary considerably, so comparison shop and get at least three quotes before making a purchasing decision.
Ringing telephones, ongoing conversations and operating equipment all contribute to a noisy work environment. This makes floor planning, layout and workstation design to reduce noise vital. Options for accomplishing this include spacing workstations out instead of grouping agents together, adding sound barrier panels between workstations, building one or two private offices to use for meetings and calls that require privacy and housing printers and copy machines away from workstations. Plants and soft, noise-dampening furnishings such as blinds, carpets, cushions and padded chairs can reduce noise even further.