And Build the Best Inbound Customer Care Team

There was a lot of excitement and celebration last week, when the U.S. jobs report came out. Not only did the U.S. add 263,000 jobs (exceeding expectations by a staggering 73,000), but we are now enjoying a 3.6% unemployment rate, our lowest in fifty years.

As an American, I’m pleased and proud to be part of such a strong economy. But as an American employer, I’ll admit, I’m acutely aware of the challenges that come along with numbers like these. In realistic terms, 3.6% unemployment means that, pretty much every one who wants a job has a job.

If you’re running a company that’s not growing – or where no one ever leaves – then you probably don’t share my concern. For everyone else, it’s a battle out there. This is toughest, most fiercely competitive hiring environment I can ever remember.

Today’s workers are not only in the driver’s seat when it comes to the hiring challenge. They’re also more technologically savvy, more informed, and more inclined to walk away from an employer who fails to meet their needs.

At times like these, you may be tempted to see this problem as a simple financial challenge. But the truth is, competing on salary with new hires is no more effective than competing on price with customers: you’ll probably end up presiding over a revolving door that becomes nearly impossible to sustain.

So, how can you attract, hire, and retain the best talent when the candidate pool is tiny and shrinking? Here are 5 ways you can survive – and thrive in – this tight labor market and build a high performing customer experience team.

  1. Re-think the Job You’re Offering
    Define The Requirements.  When is the last time you defined the skills, core competencies, and work values you actually need from your agents? Your customer contact employees are the voice of your brand. The experience they create for your customers can result in rave reviews and repeat business – or angry, frustrated customers who leave. Just as critically, every customer care agent has powerful influence over the attitudes and performance of the rest of the team. But you can’t compete for the best if you’re not up to date on what you really need. Likewise, you won’t find great talent if you’re stuck thinking you need things you really don’t. I’ll give you a hint: if you still believe that the best agents are the ones who can drive to your headquarters every day and work a standard shift, you’re probably missing out on some of the best customer experience talent out there.
    Know Candidates’ Needs.  You can’t retain a team of happy, engaged, people-oriented problem solvers if you don’t know what they want out of a job. Is it flexible hours? Is it a work-from-home arrangement? Is it a positive, encouraging work culture where effort and results are recognized and rewarded? Is it ongoing training? A viable career path? A tight labor market means you need to be willing to accommodate the needs of the talent you’re seeking.
  2. Cast a Wider Net.  Use all labor data available to identify your talent pool, how they communicate and search for jobs, and be sure you use multiple channels to reach them. Today, your company vision, values, and employment page should play prominently on your home site. Beyond that, showcase your employment opportunities on relevant social and professional media sites. And everywhere you go – whether online or in person – promote your unique company culture by highlighting what makes you a great place to work, build a community, and nurture a career.
  3. Strengthen Your Bench by Improving Applicant Experience.  Recruiting is a 365 day a year process. What happens to great candidates who didn’t quite fit in the last job opening? Keep courting them. If you’re only paying attention to potential new hires once a chair is empty, you’ll struggle to rekindle their interest or even retain their respect. If you have an ATS (applicant tracking system), use it to send periodic updates to all active candidates for open positions. Afterward, stay in touch with all potentially viable future candidates. These updates don’t need to be fancy or even overly personal. But they do need to be relevant, friendly, and respectful. You might send links to interesting articles or invitations to online workshops. But stay in touch.
  4. Never Stop Training.  One of the most valuable benefits you can offer your employees is the gift of learning and ongoing skill development. Offer a virtually endless supply of multi media training opportunities to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need to do their job well. But don’t limit your training to the nuts and bolts of an employee’s current job. Offer career supportive training opportunities that include communication and collaborative skills, time management, even career goal setting educational opportunities.
  5. Rethink Your Geographic Limitations.  If you’re running your own contact center and have struggled to keep great customer experience agents in your seats, it’s probably time to take a look at outsourcing. Experienced outsourced contact centers bring a depth of expertise – and economy of scale – that are simply unavailable to most growing businesses with significant inbound customer care operations. The right outsourcing partner can virtually eliminate your hiring and employee retention worries.

Building a strong inbound customer care team demands innovative recruiting tactics, a strong employer brand, positive candidate experience, and employee-centered, friendly work environment. That takes a lot of commitment, expertise, and hard work. That’s our specialty.

If you’d like to learn more about how Skybridge Americas can help you beat the tight labor market, contact us. We’d love to talk!

by Bobby Matthews
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas

bmatthews@skybridgeamericas.com


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