August 1, 2010, 12:00 AM

Point of Contact

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There are areas in the center where agents can examine complex and top-selling products. And a spacious grassy area outside allows for demonstrations of large products, such as the inflatable houses sold on Hayneedle’s

Having the call center close to corporate was also a key element in Hayneedle’s decision, Van Donk says. “Touching, seeing the product, and having direct contact with the buyers is important in our success,” she says.

For all the attention paid to facility design, Van Donk says a successful contact center starts with recruiting.

Hayneedle has customer care candidates sit in on sales calls so they can see another rep in action. Recruiters also ask candidates to explain a time when they received great customer service. “If you can find a candidate who can explain that, you are off to a great start,” Van Donk says.

Work from home

Before selecting the space, Hayneedle examined where employees live to minimize their commutes. And it may offer employees the opportunity to work part-time from a more convenient location: home. The retailer then could take calls from three locations—the new center, its nearby corporate office in Omaha and from the homes of employees. That would provide backup options in case of a severe snowstorm or other emergency.

Hayneedle’s view of customer care agents as revenue generators shows in the design of its sites, which now prominently display toll-free phone numbers. That’s a sign the e-retailer is confident its new contact center will be paying off in incremental sales long after the paint on the walls has dried.

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