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Virtual contact centers – you’ve got the software, now find the people

  • With the virtual contact center becoming normalized in 2020, how can organizations find, hire, and train the right talent for the job?

With the stop-start nature of restrictions this year, coupled with the uncertainty of getting back to a normal workday routine, it shouldn’t surprise that the pandemic has greatly accelerated the trend towards remote virtual and hybrid call centers as well.

And digitized call center solutions make it much easier to hire, train, and manage alternatives to traditional call centers. Previously, recruiters had to hire call center operatives for specific local markets. Now, with the right equipment, they can be based anywhere.

But how do you source for the right candidates for a hybrid or virtual contact center? Against the backdrop of recent world events, candidate pools for contact center talent might have grown exponentially in the past few months, so how can candidates be filtered through more effectively?

Instead of putting up one-size-fits-all job postings, contact center recruiters are turning to targeted pay-per-click (PPC) posts on social media platforms including LinkedIn, optimizing search filters for Job Boards and Google Jobs, targeting programmatic job postings to each market, and are participating in online career fairs instead.

Reaching out in a targeted sweep can yield better returns on recruitment investment. Organizations are also turning to recruitment partners, as they can help meet talent demand shortfalls or surplus, and are flexible enough to deal with sudden shifts in market demand.

Also, hired talent might not be able to meet full 40-hour work weeks when working remotely, so there might be health needs for family members or having to support children who are distance learning. This means recruiters need a bigger base of candidates, and this is where artificial intelligence (AI) can help manage both the increased number of required hires and increased applicant flow from a broader recruiting geography.

AI automatically engages candidates via text and email, responds to common questions, and sends scheduling reminders to reduce drop-offs and no-shows. This frees recruiters from administrative tasks and allows them to focus on higher-level functions such as developing candidate proficiency tests.

With the right call center agents in place, remote onboarding can begin, supervised by trained seniors who can provide pointers and also encouragement from a different location. As contact center staff, clear concise communication skills are required anyway, and keeping trainees engaged during online onboarding will be one of the key hurdles that remote recruitment will have to deal with.

Another key trait is collaboration, with clear expectations laid out for the beginners on work timings, meeting schedules, performance reviews, and technical assistance when necessary. Regular catch up meets with managers and the rest of the team also helps, and can be facilitated through collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Recognizing achievements by team members publicly, and holding semi-regular recreational events or activities can be ideal for maintaining employee morale, and instilling a cooperative culture between teammates that can carry over into knowledge exchange exercises, brainstorming new ideas, and better team culture. Periodic staff surveys can help gauge the success of remote initiatives, as well as to gain feedback so that both sides can incrementally measure and improve their performance in these unprecedented moments.