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Top 4 Challenges Call Centers Will Face in 2021 and What Employers Can Do

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When we asked 8,700 employers about their hiring intentions, we learned that... 

      • 59% of employers are planning to offer flexible work options for the long-term¹
      • 20% offer the option to work remotely 100% of the time¹
      • 39% are planning to support remote work some of the time¹

After 2020, one thing is certain – how, when and where we work is forever changed. Covid-19 has accelerated the shift to remote work. As many call centers continue to evolve to hybrid or virtual models, many call center leaders are facing both familiar and new challenges to their success.

As a world leader in staffing and workforce solutions, Manpower works with call centers leaders across the United States. These are the top challenges our clients are facing today and our recommendations for how to answer them.

1. High turnover of Customer Service Reps

The current economic and workforce climate has challenged many employers to rethink how they’re recruiting and retaining the workers they require. During the COVID-19 pandemic, retention factors went well beyond what we concerned normal territory to include safety, flexibility factors. In fact, we uncovered in our recent research that 80% of U.S. workers want options to work outside the office, while another 63% want flexible hours. Once people and organizations know that workers can perform effectively on their own time and at their own place, we expect the expectation for flexibility to remain even long after the pandemic.

With other organizations finding more ways to offer flexibility to their workforce, companies need to rethink benefits for their employees to retain them and ensure that flexibility is a part of those benefits. One way call centers are responding to the need for flexibility, while also expanding their recruiting pool, is by creating virtual call center functions within their operation and offering flexibility in work location of their virtual workforce.

One way we are addressing high turnover challenges with our clients is through our Manpower Workforce Success Index. We actually benchmark companies across the nation to help our clients understand how they stack up as a desirable place to work. This unique insight guides them implementing even more impactful attraction and retention strategies that work.

2. Difficulty finding the right talent

I think it’s safe to say that we have all experienced a bad call center rep. Every negative experience reflects poorly on your brand. Your reputation is in the hands of your frontline. As virtual models abolish geographic barriers to work and your talent pool widens, it’s critical you become even more selective and have a partner that understands the correlation between talent and your reputation.

Attracting and selecting the right workers for your call center is key for your organization’s success. Your brand depends on it. Part of that equation is ensuring you have access to the best talent. And when you’re faced with challenges in finding the right talent, organizations can benefit from our access to under-sourced populations including retirees, military veterans, active duty military families, individuals transitioning to virtual work, furloughed workers and more. When recruiting for your virtual call center roles, you gain the added benefit of eliminating geographic boundaries to a qualified workforce. The entire country is your sourcing area and engaging with a partner with a strong national sourcing strategy will be an enormous advantage to organizations hiring for their remote positions.

(Pro tip: When you work with Manpower, you benefit from our Workforce Success Methodology designed to ensure that you get the best talent the first time.)

3. Inconsistent onboarding and training for their virtual workforce

Many call centers are now increasing their remote workforce but are then challenged to provide equally effective training to their remote staff as they have available for their on-site staff. Investing in technology and partnering with workforce partners that can offer this training in a consistent manner to your workforce—permanent and contingent alike – will be key to ensuring your workforce is ready to be productive from day one and deliver a positive customer experience. One of the greatest values of investing in training your workforce is improving the integrity of your brand perception, which is arguably invaluable itself.

As you size up partners that can help you bring the best talent to create a smile worthy customer experience, you need an organization that is committed to ongoing excellence in onboarding and training. For instance, we have built an entire suite of tools that are designed to support call center professionals' ongoing success, based on our extensive experience in this space and deep understanding of how to help individuals be successful at work. Our suite of tools includes:

-  Virtual Success 101 – a support guide for Virtual Workers with tools, advice, and insights.

-  Contact Center Lead Agent and Virtual Contact Center Agent Manpower Acceleration Programs to build a qualified talent pool for your hiring needs

-  Customized onboarding to support both onsite and virtual workers along with and unique client requirements.

-  Access to a robust library of 6,000 courses available to upskill and reskill to meet the demands of the future of work.

4. Technology, especially with remote workers

Technology hugely influences the kind of experience created between your staff and customers, which makes it especially noteworthy here. We see a variety of situations with our clients – some providing technology to their workers, others requiring their workers to bring their own technology with them to the job. What’s key is that the employer understands at the very beginning what technology and tools the workers have and the workers understand the expectations for what tools and access will be provided to them and what is expected of them. One way we do that is through technology diagnostics to ensure workers have the tools and access they need to perform. Clear communication can mitigate confusion and uncertainty in throughout the process and ultimately help to create a better customer experience.

¹ManpowerGroup’s Q4 2020 Employment Outlook Survey

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