Attracting talent to work on the frontline in a contact centre isn’t easy. The efforts contact centre leaders go to in demonstrating the value of the role, what a great place it is to work and how it can deliver a fulfilling career can be lost in those early weeks and months. Retaining colleagues in those early days, when people are outside of their comfort zone and taking their first flurry of difficult conversations can be difficult.

You may have seen that we recently discussed this issue on one of our online seminars. Jane Redgrave, Head of Consumer Retention at Bupa and Alice Bush, Head of Operations at Takepayments joined Leigh Hopwood, CEO, CCMA and Director of Membership and Learning, Kate Law to delve into these difficulties and explored the strategic solutions that can lead to nurturing careers within the contact centre.

During the event, we conducted a poll to find out what the top challenge is for recruiting on the frontline is today, what can we do to attract more people to work in our industry and strategies for keeping people beyond 6 months.

The Recruitment Conundrum

Research we conducted last summer 41% of 18-24 year olds said that customer service is a job that they would like to do, with a further 25% equivocal. However, only 20% of those aged 55-64 saw customer service as a role they’d like to do [Source: CCMA Voice of the Contact Centre Consumer 2023]. So given the evidence suggests that we should be able to attract new talent into the industry, the poll results indicate that there just aren’t enough people looking for work in this arena.

The findings also suggest that once interested candidates are found, contact centre recruiters often find themselves unable to compete with salary expectation, leading to a talent drift.

The above shows that adding to the complexity, there’s frequently a disconnect between a candidate’s experience and the nuanced requirements of the contact centre role. We uncovered that contact centres often find, that out of those who do engage with the application process, many jump ship before it’s completed. Even those who understand and accept the offer can become disenchanted within the initial months, as the reality of the high demands and on-site attendance takes its toll.

Crafting the Appeal

In our second poll during the seminar, we asked what the contact centre industry needs to do to revamp its appeal to candidates. Of course, we know that they are incredible places to work – but the reputations built from years gone by still impact the industry’s appeal.

We found that it starts with fostering a workplace culture that celebrates positive customer service achievements. Shifting the narrative is also key—choosing empowering language that values the significant role our teams play.

The walls of strict time-measured productivity could give way to an ethos that values quality interactions and satisfactory outcomes. Contact centres that propagate this as part of their culture can become hallmark places of employment.

We learned that when it comes to compensation, raising the base salary can be a game-changer. Yes, it’s a financial investment. But consider it funding towards reduced turnover costs (such as the cost of recruitment and lost training) and the growth of a dedicated, knowledgeable and high performing team.

Let’s not underestimate the power of improved working conditions. Better environments lead to better worker welfare and productivity, knitting together a supportive community rather than a mere workplace.

Here at the CCMA we are always looking to champion great places to work and the success of the amazing talent in the industry; please share your positive contact centre culture stories and tag us in so that we can celebrate them too.

Retention: Winning Strategies for the Long Haul

Lastly, we took a poll to learn more about the key strategies contact centres implement once the right candidates are on board, so they keep them. We know from listening to members, the first six months are critical—the above shows that time to embed a great culture, provide immense support, and set clear, achievable expectations are crucial. We discussed that nurturing job satisfaction and employee engagement, and developing an employee value proposition centred around recognition and growth opportunities must be in place.

Would incremental salary increase, or defined career paths make a difference? They hint at a future, a reason to stay, invest, and grow.

Case in Point

The challenges faced by contact centres in recruitment are as daunting as they are critical, but they are by no means insurmountable. Through targeted strategies—from wage that reflect the complexities and skills required and setting clear expectations about the role, to fostering great culture and support—contact centres can not only fill their vacancies but ensure they are occupied by engaged, committed individuals. 

An additional strategy is to outline the expectations of the role from the very start to create that stickiness to the role. We found great results in a recent pilot of our UK National Contact Centre Academy Frontline Foundations course, where we are the industry training provider for their Recruit Train Deploy scheme for Reed Talent Solutions. We delivered the training for their client EE to help boost their retention rates in the first six months. As a result, attrition rates dipped, and job satisfaction rose, delivering a potent combination of stability and workforce quality.  

To learn more about how Frontline Foundations can support you in your search for talent, visit our page and make an enquiry. 

Check out the full recording of our online seminar, Mastering Early-Stage Frontline Stickiness, below.

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