By strict definition a call center is a centralized place where calls are answered. However, technology now allows this fixed characterization to expand beyond a centralized location to encompass more than one interconnected call center operation.
Though agents in a multilocation call center operation don’t sit in the same room or sometimes even in the same city, they all work together to serve the same group of callers. There are several advantages in having a multilocation call center.
Disaster Recovery: The most oft-cited reason to have a multilocation call center is disaster recovery. If one site goes down, regardless of the reason, the remaining sites can continue to operate. While the other locations will be busier and may need to call in extra staff, your customer-facing service offerings will continue to function.
Possible disasters could include weather related issues, such as snow, ice, or sub-zero temperatures in northern climates; flooding in coastal areas or flood plains; and twisters or earthquakes in other locales. No location is exempt from possible natural disaster.
Other concerns are terrorist attacks in high profile locations; technical infrastructure issues such as a loss of power, interrupted phone or internet service, and rolling brownouts; and a quarantined facility, perhaps due to a natural gas leak, health emergency, or other unforeseen issue.
In each instance, the other locations in a multilocation call center can continue to serve all callers, providing uninterrupted service.
Backup: In a multilocation call center operation, each site is an effective backup for the others. Calls can overflow from busy campaigns. Weather issues that play havoc at one location, either by increasing call traffic or limiting agent availability, can be mitigated by tapping other locations. Whatever the coverage issue, the multilocation call center is the solution.
Tap Other Labor Markets: If a call center is in an expensive labor market, then the cost to provide service to callers increases. Since labor is a call center’s biggest expense, the cost of agents is not a trivial matter.
If one location is in a labor market with a ready source of quality employees at an affordable price, then it makes sense to expand that call center instead of continuing to hire in high-cost labor markets.
Sync With Other Time Zones: Most employees like to work during regular business hours, but callers want greater flexibility. Here, call centers spanning multiple time zones offer many coverage advantages. For example, an East Coast call center facility can provide early morning service to West Coast callers, while a West Coast call center can easily provide early evening coverage to East Coast callers. Plus, the lunch hour in one time zone could align with a slower time in another.
Having call centers located in multiple time zones balances out call traffic and provides a consistent level of service regardless of when people call.
With all the advantages offered by a multilocation call center, it’s time to give this option serious consideration, especially when you need to expand.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier consultancy for corporate call centers, whose team possesses decades of relevant business and call center experience. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.