When I graduated from college with a business degree, my plan was to make a career in the financial services and banking industry. As a student, I had entry level jobs at two different banks in their treasury departments and it seemed to me like that was the ideal path to follow. After sending some fresh CV’s and knocking at some doors a few offers came through, but none seemed adequate or met my expectations.
While looking for that “ideal job” I ended up accepting one in a Customer Care and Tech Support operation for a big white-label computer manufacturer. Temporary and non-committal, it appeared to be the perfect gig to make some money, easily and without a lot of responsibilities, which for a guy in his early twenties, seemed like a great idea. Long story short, twenty three years later, I am still part of an industry that generates about USD$45 Billion a year in revenue and offers jobs to over 3.4 million people in the United States.
Still, this has never been the kind of professional career you can use as leverage to put your mother at ease when she wants to understand what you do for a living, or that you can brag about with your friends. You are not an MD saving lives at a hospital or a big- time Wall Street “wolf”, closing deals and making people richer by the minute. No. The Call Center industry lacks all glamour, shine and excitement that other careers excel at. Basically, you are there, at all levels, to deal with the frustrations, ire and bad experiences of an array of customers that see you and everyone around you as the incarnation of everything that is wrong in the consumer’s world.
But let’s be honest: If the world were perfect and all products and services worked exactly how they are supposed to, all of us in the industry would be out of a job. It is because of that low percentage of products and services that fail, or do not come with clear understandable instructions, that we can earn a living in this industry. It is because of those broken processes and human little failures that the industry is constantly evolving, and despite all the improvements and changes, will continue to exist for as long as there are problems coming our way.
Today though, the customer experience does not depend on human interactions as much as it did twenty or more years ago. Automation, robotization and self service have come to give the consumers the opportunity to choose how to be best served in alignment with their preferences, and to the business organizations, the capacity to optimize their solutions and devote the human talent to more complex and advanced functions, because at the end of the day, we depend on good old human intelligence to make decisions and help our clients resolve their problems and inquiries.
So, in this context, how do you manage to recruit and keep the talent in an environment as harsh, ambiguous and short-term lived as the one in a Call Center operation, especially for entry level positions?
Good talent recruitment and retention are the foundation of a successful, sustainable business. The four short articles we will be sharing during the next weeks explain my take on the matter, based on the experience accumulated over the past twenty three years as well as the input from some very appreciated colleagues in a comprehensive approach towards successful recruitment and retention of the human talent in a contact center environment.
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