It used to be easy to fill contact center roles. Full time? No problem. Temporary staff? Easy. All within 10 miles of the contact center? Sure. But fast forward to today, and that is no longer the case.
The big resignation has seen the UK suffer the highest staff turnover in the past two years. In fact, in the contact center industry, it would be around 26%, well above the national average of 15%.
In an effort to attract new employees, companies are going above and beyond, offering more than the usual salary, which has created a “war” for talent. Companies buy out qualified staff, which makes it difficult for other companies to compete and retain their staff, resulting in high turnover, poor customer service and poorly trained agents.
Today, with many people reassessing their priorities to determine what they really want from the job, it’s not just candidates, but employers who need to do their best in the recruitment process.
So with all these challenges contact centers face, how do you plan to attract and retain staff? In short, to attract the best, you have to be ready to answer questions that would never have been asked five years ago, starting with…
What’s in it for me in this job?
Recruiters should be prepared to offer a decent package. It means more than just paying. There needs to be alignment with the vision and values of the organization as well as rewards, and a real focus on wellness and care.
A legacy culture of inflexibility and a strict focus on internal metrics rather than customer outcomes such as first contact resolution, customer effort and Net Promoter Score (NPS) too often comes at the expense of needs agents. However, a shift is occurring within the industry where contact centers are placing employee well-being at the heart of their operations. A business where agents are heard and their needs are met can reap the rewards of brand loyalty, performance, and perception.
By automating previously inflexible processes, companies can provide an unprecedented level of flexibility to their workforce and deliver significant improvements in agent engagement and well-being. By improving engagement between agents and their employers and fostering a culture of support and encouragement, everyone benefits.
How fast can I progress?
The biggest question, especially for young candidates, is how do I move up the career ladder? Recruiters need to be clear about careers on offer and progression within the company – there are many cases of C-Suite executives starting out answering customer calls and these need to be both visible and accessible to position career paths in the organization.
As more and more organizations realize the benefits of a culture-based approach to training and development, one rather significant oversight remains which, when corrected, can have a hugely positive effect on results. This oversight is the personal development of front-line customer service personnel. Not only the professional development of their skills for their current role, but also the personal development of their qualities and aspirations.
Developing the whole person and having self-aware contact center managers and mentors who can fully realize the value of their people will ensure companies reap the benefits. Investing time and resources in personal and professional development has been proven to provide a competitive business advantage.
What is the team and support?
People want to know they will be taken care of. Customer-facing roles are challenging. Social media and Glassdoor mean there’s no hiding. You need to show that you will take care of people using contemporary workforce management and automation tools.
Engagement drives everything from profitability to retaining top talent. It’s about bringing people together and aligning them around a common goal. There are a number of reasons why having good lines of communication throughout the contact center is essential. Perhaps the most obvious is for the team to share their knowledge, but also to ensure that agents feel fully heard and supported.
Combining front and back office operations using labor optimization tools and techniques can be a good way to improve communication within the contact center. By automatically detecting performance levels and sending prompts in real time, employees are constantly supported and supervisors stay constantly informed. Plus, real-time automation finds the right times during an agent’s shift to deliver work updates, communications on system incidents or off-the-phone tasks, and other personalized messages. Even better, it can indicate when it’s appropriate to take time off or just offer an early end when conditions permit.
What technology do you use?
People are more tech-savvy than ever. They want to know what kind of infrastructure they will be working on and what systems are in place to enable them to do their jobs better.
With contact center transformation accelerating, integrations are commonplace and technology infrastructures are becoming more advanced. However, contact centers that deploy automation technology put the power in the hands of agents.
With AI-powered technology, contact centers can ensure agents get the support and information they need. With its unique ability to process the massive amounts of time-sensitive data generated, which can be translated into immediate automated actions, agent efficiency and engagement skyrocket. This, in turn, provides a consistent experience that builds an organization’s customer service reputation.
Technology that allows agents to react to everything happening around them in real time, while putting their well-being first, could finally make contact centers a prime employment option.
How will you upgrade and train me?
With a lot to learn in a short time, people need to know that you’re going to prepare them and deliver training that lives up to the progress promises. In the UK, one in four contact center agents believe they have not been properly trained. It is therefore important to implement a detailed onboarding plan in your business, as well as to provide ongoing training and support to agents.
Agents need to feel invested and training is essential to staff motivation and performance. By finding the time to train agents on how to handle customer calls appropriately, as well as providing any downtime they may need afterwards, technology can motivate and help agents deliver the best possible customer service.
With its ability to automatically identify lower call volumes, Workforce Automation ensures employees can stay productive during busy seasons and daily peaks. When employees reach periods of lull or inactivity, they can be redirected to one-on-one development, training, or coaching to improve the skills they need to navigate conversations with customers.
Given that it can cost contact centers up to £20,000 for each member of staff who leaves after 12 weeks, being prepared to answer these questions – and then meet the expectations set, is essential.