When former-teacher-turned-entrepreneur Jane Glazer decided to launch her own direct mail catalog company out the basement of her home in 1983, she had no idea that it would grow to become a $50-million-a-year empire.
Through her business savvy and sheer determination, the company, QCI Direct
, which sells cleaning supplies and other home improvement products through its Home Trends, Sleep Solutions and Picket Fence catalogs, grew from a single-person office to a 247,000- square-foot facility in just a few short years. Today the Rochester, NY-based company operates a call center with about 72 agents taking more than 1 million orders a year.
Because of her background in teaching, Glazer has an appreciation for employee involvement and therefore wanted to do everything she could to keep her call center agents happy in their jobs. That’s why, in 2005, she decided to redesign the call center to make it more functional, as well as more aesthetically pleasing. She recognized the importance of investing in workspaces that would make her call center agents and supervisors feel good about work – which in turn leads to increased employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.
But when it came time to redesign the call center, Glazer faced a challenge: How to make the most efficient use of a somewhat odd floor plan in the older facility where the company headquarters is located. There was also a challenge in terms of the cabling that was running all over the floors of the call center like spaghetti – plus, the existing environment was dreary and needed “brightening.”
Glazer spoke with numerous interior design companies but ended up selecting Interior Concepts for its highly functional and durable call center furniture as well as its ability to customize the workstations to fit the space. Because Interior Concepts manufactures its call center furniture in its own factory and ships direct, it was able to provide QCI Direct with customized workstations designed to maximize floor space and boost call center efficiency.
With Interior Concepts’ “custom-fit” approach, QCI Direct was able to have each workstation sized to within an inch – which in turn allowed the company to make the most of every square inch of available floor space. The design also worked around several load-bearing columns that had created supervisory barriers in the past. In addition the design takes potential future expansion into consideration and leaves room to add more workstations if needed.
“Interior Concepts offers the best space planning and dimensional drawings in the business,” Glazer said in a customer case study posted on Interior Concepts’ Web site. “Their furniture adapts to any environment. I don’t know of another manufacturer that could have customized their furniture to the exact specifications of our space without charging extra or pushing out lead times.”
Interior Concepts was also able to resolve the issues presented by the tangled mass of wires that meandered throughout the facility. To reduce the unsightly web of cables underneath workstations, Interior Concepts used the Chase wire management system, which provides easy access to cabling yet ensures all cords are stored out of site.
“I fell in love with the construction concept with the cords obtainable, but hidden,” Glazer said. “I had seen other setups with cords on the floor—a total disaster for keeping the place clean, and people hitting them with their feet at desk level.”
With Interior Concepts’ wide selection of fabrics and colors, QCI Direct was also able to brighten its call center environment considerably. The broad range of colors, materials and finishes helped create a more coordinated décor, as well as a more open and inviting work environment. Also improving the aesthetics – as well as functionality – was the removal of the 72 inch panels between workstations, which not only made the environment dark and dreary, but also made it difficult for supervisors and agents to communicate. With shorter panels between the workstations, the facility is much more open, airy and bright.
“[Interior Concepts’] color and fabric choices allowed me to dress the place up without spending extra,” Glazer said. “And when we learned that assembly was part of the price—and not our responsibility, we then knew that we could buy ‘new’ with confidence.”
Recently Interior Concepts implemented new space planning and design software that allows it to give customers 3-D “virtual tours” of the spaces that have been custom-designed for their facilities. This way, customers can accurately see how the call center furniture will look in their space before it is manufactured.
In addition, visitors to Interior Concepts’ Web site can now take 3-D virtual tours to get a sampling of some of the call centers and related support areas, such as training rooms and break rooms, it has designed for clients.
The new design software is fully integrated with the company’s manufacturing system, which means faster production time with greater accuracy. Moving forward this should reduce lead times even further, the company claims.
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Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard