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7 Great Tips for Call Centre Resourcing

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TIP 1: Benchmark Staff

Get your Quality and Assurance Department to give you a hand to give you the ability to identify the most successful Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s) for each type of campaign. This is a great way to improve the rest of the resource pool and generate best practice results.

This may sound rudimentary but I have found many Contact Centre environments that have stable Quality and Assurance programs but do not use them to benefit the business.

A classic example was a Financial Services client that asked for help in squeezing those extra response rate points from specific a campaign.

They were at a loss as to how to do this with the current resource pool.

I reviewed the operations and in doing so identified that the Customer Service Reps that were the highest achievers on the campaign were also achieving very high marks in a specific portion of the Quality and Assurance benchmarking results.

I then reviewed the rest of their resource base and found that there were other CSR’s with the same high Q & A rankings that were not being utilised on the campaign.

The solution was to swap those low achievers for the recognised potential high achievers based on the Q & A benchmarking results.

Conversion rates on the campaign immediately increased by 0.5% ensuring that the team overachieved their targets.

This Company continues to benefit from this principal and now routinely matches CSR’s to specific campaigns based on their Q & A benchmarking results as well as other relevant business metrics.

TIP 2: Profile Staff

How does the profiling of staff vary from the benchmarking of staff?

Benchmarking is looking at the results and associated capabilities of your staff as a comparison to others within the business unit.

Profiling is measuring the critical success attributes of core competencies, behaviours, and occupational interests of your CSR’s to ensure perfect job match.

Profiling is usually carried out by a specialist provider and can include a comprehensive suite of tailored assessment tools to meet the business’s needs, including specific programs targeted towards contact centre and marketing environments.

An FMCG company that had been recording unfavourable results in their Contact Centre environment decided to introduce profiling assessments.

Over an eighteen month period they saw a remarkable increase in performance indicators, campaign results, and ROI figures.

The Contact Centre and Marketing Managers were both amazed how the profiling had identified key opportunities and how those opportunities had been turned into positive outcomes for the business.

TIP 3: Start an “Employee get Employee” Program

In every Contact Centre there are those CSR’s that you would just like to be able to clone due to their attitude, ability and success within your business.

Well science hasn’t yet supported us in being able to do this, but there is an alternative.

Remember the old saying that “birds of a feather flock together”?

Setting up an “Employee get Employee” program is a way to tap into potentially similar staff.

Not only do these programs give businesses the opportunity to save on recruitment costs but it is also the perfect opportunity to source and hire likeminded employees via your current employees.

Make sure that any program has a referral payment attached to it (usually payable after the probation period, and ensure that due recruitment processes are followed for all those referred).

One of my projects included setting up such a scheme.

The business (a DM trader) immediately tapped into a resource pool of successful candidates and at the same time reduced its recruitment costs by 25%.

A review of the scheme also found that the people being referred to the business already came with a basic understanding of its workings, were aware of the businesses expectations and become part of the Call Centre Community more easily.

Other interesting results were that attrition rates decreased as a result of the initiative and the people that had referred candidates did so cautiously as it was perceived that it may reflect poorly on them if the candidate did not pass probation etc.

TIP 4: Secure the Correct Workforce Mix

Not able to get the required number of Consultants to action your campaigns?

Looking outside the square can instantly help resolve this problem.

With the Contact Centre industry growing in Australia the market to source great Customer Service and Sales representatives is getting increasingly difficult.

A client from a leading financial services company had exactly this problem and I was asked to provide a solution.

The initial review of their environment identified a strong recruitment policy, strong supplier agreements and appropriate remuneration. The Company also had a strong brand and was successful in its market.

One opportunity that had not been investigated though was a variable mix of people resources.

Traditionally the client had not actively tapped into specific areas of the market.

Project recommendations included actively canvassing people returning to the workforce, retirees, remote agents and create job share positions.

These recommendations were accepted and applied to the business and resulted in many benefits for the Company including:

  • Resource needs being met ensuring all campaigns would be actioned
  • The introduction of mature staff into the environment resulted in less “business training” through the induction process (reducing training costs)
  • Remote agents being able to help provide DRP coverage
  • Newly created job share positions reduced staff attrition occurrences after staff had taken maternity leave

TIP 5: Ensure Your Recruitment Strategy and Business Planning is Aligned

Is your recruitment strategy linked to your business planning and forecasting reviews?

So often I get calls from clients saying that the Contact Centre cannot meet the resource requirements for a campaign and can I help?

70% of these types of projects reveal that there are great opportunities to be leveraged between the Contact Centre and Marketing Departments in terms of business transparency and processes.

Some months ago a client was concerned that they were falling behind in meeting Campaign execution targets because the Contact Centre could not meet resourcing demands.

As we progressed through the exploratory stages of the project it became apparent that the fundamental issues were that the business units were not operating in a transparent manner and did not have an appreciation of each others needs and constraints.

The Contact Centre had a recruitment (and induction) strategy but were never advised of any changes to the original budgeted headcount as the year progressed.

There was also opportunity to reduce the Induction time lines and shorten the CSR proficiency lifecycle within the Contact Centre recruitment cycle.

The Marketing Department on the other hand had not taken into account the recruitment and proficiency lead in times for their planning and re-forecasting requirements.

There was also opportunity for quarterly or trimester re-forecasts to be shared and communicated between the business units.

Six months later all of my recommendations have been implemented and the business now finds itself in a much stronger position.

  • All campaigns are being actioned as per the original business plan
  • Penetration results of campaign lists have increased by 2% (trickling down to other positive campaign outcomes),
  • Headcount figures are on target with only a 1% variance to budget (previously hovering between 5 – 10%)
  • Recruitment and Induction time lines have been reviewed and reengineered
  • Both departments are working together to achieve.
  • The Contact Centre is also now able to facilitate “call to action” or “urgent campaigns” because of implementing the review recommendations.

TIP 6: Farewell Interviews

Often when I first start working on a project for a client I ask for copies of recent exit interviews as a means to understand some of the opportunities that may have been identified in that process.

It still amazes me how many companies do not use an exit interview or the information within the process to develop their business.

Opportunities abound for businesses to include relevant questions within the process to be able to understand more comprehensively some of the issues that may exist.

The Operations and Marketing Directors of a large FMCG company asked for my aid in helping them to combat a recent spike in attrition which had increased by 15% over the last year within their Contact Centre.

In this case the Company had done exit interviews but they were very generic and rudimentary.

The course of action was to try and re-source this relevant information so it could be used as a basis for improvement.

A plan was adopted to attempt to reinterview those people that had left within the last year.

(This action may sound quite unusual but please refer to tip 7 below)

The invitation to reinterview the past employees was successful with 78% taking up the opportunity, with the offering of a small reward for doing so.

The process was also more closely aligned to finding out specific perceived issues by using open questions that focused on what things could be improved within the business.

The results from the reinterviews provided valuable insight with three previously unidentified issues being the main reasons for the attrition.

Client confidentiality does not permit me to share these issues with you but I can say that the issues were able to be easily addressed and resolved within a two month period.

Needless to say the Company’s attrition rate is trending back to its previous levels and the business is fundamentally aware of the power and use of the exit interview!

Note 1:- the above process also resulted in an ex-employee returning to the Company as a result of being reinterviewed!

Note 2:- always ask these two magic questions during an exit interview

  • “would you refer our Company to a friend or relative?”
  • “do you know anyone that might want to apply for you old position?”

TIP 7: Staying in Contact with Past Employees

Generation “Y” workers are amongst us and many companies are changing to keep abreast of their needs.

These days it is recognised that much of your talent pool with leave your employment for self development reasons such as travelling, sea change experiences, and to gain new skills experience.

However there is a stronger opportunity these days that this talent may revert back to their original choices and be looking for re-employment within your organisation.

In doing so they will be wiser and more able when they return having experienced that extra training and life experience.

A company that I have worked with endorsed the philosophy of maintaining contact with past relevant employees.

The company even created a user group on “Face Book”, and held regular social events such as networking and catch up events for past employees.

The program has paid dividends with 7% of their recruitment needs being served by this program, either being past employees returning to the business or referrals from past employees.

The tips above are more than just hints of how to improve any Call Centres resourcing needs but rather tried and tested solutions to real problems encountered by real Managers like yourself and companies like your own.

Any questions? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

I've created a Business Leaders’ Practical Guide to Implementing Net Promoter.  Download it Here

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