Tackling Noise in the Call Center
Call centers typically house many – sometimes hundreds – of customer service agents in one open space. With all these agents speaking to customers on the phone all at once, background noise often can...
Call centers typically house many – sometimes hundreds – of customer service agents in one open space. With all these agents speaking to customers on the phone all at once, background noise often can cause distractions for agents attempting to assist customers on the telephone. Background noise can make it difficult for employees to hear customers on the other line, or even hear themselves while talking to customers. In some cases, customers can even hear the background noise through the phone.
Such situations can lead to customer dissatisfaction or a lack of trust in the company, especially when dealing with confidential information. Although it is impossible to completely eliminate background noise, there are two critical things you can address that can help you minimize call center noise: structural design and instituting appropriate policy measures.
Structural design fixes
There are many things you can do when planning a call center to reduce noise. Though easier to do before you begin operations, many can be retrofit to existing locations:
- Place fabric screens on desks or use glass partitions to create separate workspaces for agents.
- Have employees work in cubicles with padded siding.
- Consider installing a white noise system. Select white noise systems are adjustable based on your call center’s call volume.
- Plants and water features can help lessen background noises.
- Hang canvasses of artwork on the walls.
- Purchase noise-reduction headphones for agents to use. Try turning up the voice feedback settings in the headphones. The louder volume of the voice feedback can help workers keep the volume of their voices down.
- Install acoustic ceiling tiles.
Developing and instituting appropriate call center policies can have as great or even more significant effect in helping to minimize noise issues.
- Require employees to leave their desks for their breaks, minimizing side conversations in the contact center. Many call centers have designated areas where agents can go to take a break or to engage in conversation with co-workers.
- Place signage on the door of your call center asking anyone who enters to keep his or her voice to a minimum.
- Employees should be trained to keep a level tone of voice and to be considerate of neighboring agents.
- Employ a webchat system or some other type of online communication system that allows agents to communicate with one another silently. This kind of system can also cut back on customer wait time when an issue arrives. Messaging a supervisor or fellow agent is generally much quicker than putting the customer on hold to get up and find someone to ask for help. E-mail works just fine if you don’t have an instant communication system.
- Assign an agent or another employee to listen to several recorded calls per week to monitor background noise and attempt to identify major sources of the noise.
- Ask agents to refrain from using personal mobile devices anywhere within the workspace.
Including in your policies general restrictions on “chit-chat” will also help reduce noise pollution.
All of the aforementioned tips on reducing background noise in the call center have been tested and successfully deployed for use in call centers. Not all of them may be necessary or appropriate for your enterprise.
Before implementing any of the structural designs, noise-fighting devices, or practices outlined, be sure to assess the needs of your center. Evaluate and analyze the set-up of your facility. Once you do so, you will be able to determine and select the appropriate design and policy changes to solve the noise problem in your call center.