If the rapidly-changing call center world wasn’t already difficult enough to navigate, COVID-19 has made it much harder to keep up with trends and demands. If having to deal with angry customers, strict work schedules, penny-pinching upper management, and super high expectations wasn’t enough, companies are now having to deal with the challenges of remote work, COVID-19 protocols, competition from additional market opportunities, and a shortened supply of talent.
Attrition in customer service is higher than in almost any other industry, with turnover rates in U.S. based call centers ranging from 30 to 45%. That’s more than twice the average for all occupations!
Undoubtedly not for the weak at heart, some call center managers have the grace and tenacity to handle the extreme pressure and create an experience that pleases customers without exceeding dwindling budgets—a truly remarkable feat. Read below for more about the current challenges international cell centers are facing and how they’re adapting to overcome them.
Limited talent pool
This challenge has proven to be increasingly difficult for many companies, but especially for call centers. Increased outsourcing, labor shortages and technology improvements are limiting the talent pool and making it harder to hire great talent.
What’s more, many potential customer service representatives will apply to multiple opportunities at the same time to weigh the offers and leverage them for better opportunities. And, candidates today have different expectations of the workplace than just a few years ago. The next generation of employees will not be retained on the same principles and expectations that generations before found successful. Improving your hiring practices will be essential to capturing great call center talent.
Tips to adapt:
- Use more talent pool sites/communities by getting involved in the customer service employment community through online forums, Slack Channels, job boards, and discussion boards.
- Make sure your organization has optimized their online brand (SEO) with GMB, Glassdoor, review sites, and customer reports.
The increasing need to identify candidates faster
Another difficulty call centers are facing now is that job candidates are hired faster than organizations can verify their skills/fit.
With so much competition, a quality call center staff is a precious resource. Some call center managers have found clever ways to compensate for the high turnover rate, offering a glowing employee experience that is unmatched in the industry. Others are struggling to identify the qualifications of a potential hire before they are gobbled up by a competing agency or company.
Tips to adapt:
- Use new incentives and perks that speak to today’s talent pool.
- Use new technology that identifies qualified candidates faster, with automated language assessments, skills and personality assessments.
The impact of COVID-19
Another big contributor to call center difficulties lately is the fact that COVID-19 has changed how businesses operate within laws and human desires.
COVID-19 has exacerbated a lot of trends that naturally were forming through the evolution of business. Work-from-home for example, was being explored slowly and methodically. Now, massive global corporations are providing flexible working conditions for their global staff. Governments have enforced laws that have crippled some businesses while others have found ways to adapt. The trends put into motion from COVID are going to continue and your must find a way to stay current and ahead of the trends.
Tips to adapt:
- Create remote hiring practices more enjoyable and engaging. Place effort on technology and practices that help overcome the person-to-person advantage.
- Provide technology (software and hardware) that make living and working from home a success.
- Provide flexible work environments, training programs and systems that allow a healthier work-life-balance and experience.
Future trends in call centers
This list is clearly not exhaustive. The point is that you have to see/experience a trend and then think about how you are going to behave or be different. Not different for the sake of “different’ but different to create value to the employee or potential call center talent. Companies that leverage their call centers as value-add to their product or support will find greater brand loyalties than those who do not adapt their call centers for the future. (McKinsey & Company)
You do not have to be the largest organization to mobilize your strategy into action. Micro trends and the world wide web are enabling small businesses to adapt and be agile as they plan for the future.
Your ability to adapt to the trending and industry-driven changes will be the value differentiator that will position your organization for future success.
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