PENSACOLA, Fla. – When it comes to retail delivery the call center can sometimes be overlooked, but not at Navy Federal Credit Union. The world’s largest credit union has made its first inbound remote call center, which opened its doors this past November, an employee-focused environment literally designed to increase productivity while reducing turnover. After a survey revealed that call center jobs were not in high demand in Virginia and faced with a 50 to 60% call center turnover rate, the decision was made to find a location for a remote call center where the cost of living is lower and the people would be happier with their position. “This was the first time we’ve done something like this,” said Navy FCU Pensacola Remote Call Center Project Manager Ebb Ebbesen. “We’re a very centralized credit union so this was a new way of thinking for us to conceptualize how this might work, and it took a great deal of planning along several lines.” According to Ebbesen, credit unions considering a similar move must answer several questions before even taking the first step to launching a remote call center, such as what kind of organization will it be, how will it run, how will it be staffed, who will run the daily business, what will the relationship be to headquarters and what kind of technology is needed to realize the goals. Ebbesen dedicated three years to the call center project and says strategic planning was key to selecting just the right location. Pensacola beat out 60 other locations as home to Navy FCU’s 56,000-square-foot state-of-the-art call center because of several factors including a high-quality job force to pull from. The facility currently has 100 staffers but is on schedule to house some 500 employees by 2005. The employee-friendly environment boasts a spectacular view of its 19 acres of land for every staffer; a fitness center; jogging trails; and an interior bamboo garden feature along the interior corridor as a way to bring the outdoors in. Calls are routed by skill set based on what the member selects when they call in and staffers here handle an average of 2,500 calls per day. According to Navy FCU Vice President of Call Center Operations Debbie Calder, new hires undergo one week of new employee training to learn about the Navy FCU culture and six weeks of skill-based classroom and e-learning training. Throughout training and once on the floor, calls are monitored and feedback is provided on a regular basis to every account specialist. “One of the primary facets of the call center is the employee-friendly focus; they are our first priority, and the idea is for them to have as much input and more control over their destiny,” said Pensacola Call Center Assistant Vice President Annette D’Isa. “What is interesting is that the concepts we had on paper actually work. People are so happy about their surroundings and the employees have quickly assimilated to the Navy Federal culture.” According to Calder it is all in the details – from providing fresh flowers daily, using bright cheery colors throughout and low cubicles that encourage a sense of camaraderie among staffers to selecting the right key people willing to relocate from headquarters to ensure that the transfer of the Navy FCU culture would be smooth. [email protected]

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