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6 Steps to a "Greener" Contact Center
What it means for the contact center to focus on the size of its carbon footprint.
For the rest of the April 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Over the last two years I’ve seen hundreds of articles about “going green.” I’ve been invited to more “green” conferences than I can count, and even been asked to suggest some “green” key performance indicators. Saving the planet by reducing waste and pollution is a laudable goal, but what does “going green” really mean for contact centers? How much difference can it make?

Fads come and go, but real change has real value, and going green is one of those changes, particularly with regard to eliminating waste. Any true effort to go green will benefit not only your contact center and enterprise, but the planet as a whole. Here are six practical suggestions for applying the concept to your contact center:

1. Stop printing unnecessary reports. Curtailing the number of reports—and reams of paper—used by the contact center is a realistic goal, as it’s likely that at least 50 percent are either redundant or not used at all. 

2. Turn off desktop computers and supervisory terminals when not in use. Agents and supervisors often leave their computers on to avoid wasting time booting up at the beginning of their shifts. This is understandable, as agents are not paid extra for coming in a few minutes early. But if the responsibility is shared and everyone takes a turn coming in early once a month to boot up the computers, you’ll save a lot of electricity with no incremental cost. 

3. Make Starbucks or some other good coffee readily available. Twenty years ago, many enterprises made coffee available to their staff in a cart that was brought up to each floor so that the employees did not have to waste time (and energy) going to the cafeteria. Over time, coffee carts were eliminated to cut costs, and employees either had to purchase their own coffee maker or travel somewhere—inside or outside of the building—in search of their desired beverage. Enterprises will save time, money, and energy—and improve agent adherence—by restoring the coffee-cart concept.

4. Regulate the temperature. It’s often hard to regulate the temperature in a large work environment. When it’s cold, agents either requisition or bring in heaters; when it’s hot, people use fans. It will cost your company less money and use less energy if the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems are properly regulated. It will also reduce the number of employee complaints submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

5. Build with windows and natural light. I’ve been told many times that it’s not ideal to have windows in contact centers, yet I keep hearing from agents how much they like windows. Natural light reduces the electricity burden for lighting, and sun glare can be controlled with blinds. Sunlight has also been proven to make people happier and improve their disposition. This recommendation will save money, improve agent satisfaction, reduce agent churn, and improve the customer experience. 

6. Use work-at-home agents. Moving a percentage of your agents to work-at-home positions will reduce the use of gasoline and the production of greenhouse gases. It can also increase agent satisfaction and can reduce salary expenses. 

These ideas are all relatively easy to implement and will make your contact center greener. What’s great about the green movement is that we can help save the planet, one contact center at a time, while simultaneously reducing costs, improving agent satisfaction, and, by extension, the customer experience. It’s sometimes hard to resist making fun of fads, but the push to go green is no fad—and it’s worth the commitment. 


Donna Fluss (donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com) is founder and president of DMG Consulting, a leading provider of contact center and analytics research, market analysis, and consulting.


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