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What can we do to attract candidates for contact center agent job openings?

Question:

What can we do to attract candidates for contact center agent job openings?

Answer:

With 2018 US unemployment rates hovering near 18-year lows, contact center leaders need to think outside the box when attempting to fill agent positions. Here are some options:

  • Consider automation to reduce the need for “entry-level” agents – Contact center agent roles generally include some low-value, rote activities that are a good match for automation. There are several types of contact center automation, including:
    • Robotic process automation (RPA) – Attended RPA automates routine activities for agents on their desktop, and provides real-time guidance during interactions. Unattended RPA, generally invoked on servers or dedicated workstations, can automate certain end-to-end contact center processes with little or no human intervention.
    • Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) – IVAs extend and enhance the customer self-service options in company websites, inbound and outbound voice calls, chat, text, and mobile app channels. IVAs automate routine activities and transactions, such as answering basic questions, and directing prospects and customers to additional resources.
  • “Upgrade” the agent role – Once routine tasks are automated, agents will regularly be resolving more complex and sophisticated inquiries, and should be paid accordingly. Higher rates of pay will attract a larger pool of candidates, including better educated and more highly skilled applicants. Here are a few reasons to consider increasing agent pay:
    • Higher-paid agents are likely to be more engaged and invested in the organization’s success, e.g., delivering an elevated customer experience, providing constructive feedback, sharing ideas for innovation, etc.
    • Higher-quality agents are better able to qualify leads, and up-sell or cross-sell, directly improving top-line revenue.
    • Today’s contact centers are omni-channel – agents must be highly skilled and able to move seamlessly from channel to channel, frequently handling concurrent interactions.
    • Better-educated agents are more likely to possess the attributes necessary to move into other roles in the organization, leading to a long-term “career” rather than simply a short-term “job” with a company, enabling the enterprise to retain existing employees who possess considerable institutional knowledge.

Most contact centers have changed significantly in recent years, with the introduction of automation and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled technologies into these environments, as well as having to satisfy higher customer expectations. However, one area that has seen little change is agent pay. More complex job requirements plus low US unemployment equal a perfect time to re-evaluate contact center agent compensation.