Call center staffing is notoriously tricky. The industry has the highest turnover rate of any other, and 87% of call center employees report high stress levels. So, how do you recruit with those odds? We asked The HT Group Recruiting Manager Michelle O’Keefe to help us compile tips for call center employers wanting to compete for talent in the coming year.
You need to pay competitively. Do a search online for call center average pay in Texas, and it may pull up something like $16-17/hour. But that rate is deceiving. “For most call center staffing engagements, you compete with remote opportunities that pay $20 an hour or more. Requiring specific skills or experience also demands a bigger investment to attract the candidates you want,” says O’Keefe.
Keep in mind that you’re competing with highly valued remote jobs. Yes, some call center workers prefer to work onsite, but 44% would risk a pay cut to be remote. “Even being open to hybrid arrangements or having workers ‘earn’ being able to work remotely after, let’s say, six months on the job, improves your candidate pool immensely,” she adds.
Your wish list should be very specific when hiring for fully remote positions. This is important for two reasons. First, when your positions are open to call center candidates across a wide geographic area and your compensation is competitive, you’ll get a staggering number of applications. “One recent job posting of ours generated 17,0000 applicants. There is no way to weed out the quality candidates from that volume of applicants without specific parameters,” O’Keefe advises.
The second reason you need to be specific comes down to trust. Fully remote positions require a unique level of trust between an employer and their worker. To identify call center candidates who can thrive in those roles, you may need to put extra consideration into their experience, work history, personality, and soft skills.
Be prepared to pivot. “When you first pull candidates, and they aren’t the match you had hoped for, look closely at your parameters. You may need to tweak qualifications or any number of other factors. Be prepared to do that,” she recommends. And be open to other suggestions that an experienced recruiter may have. “We recently determined that a client’s interview process was throwing candidates off. It was time for a recalibration, which happens,” she adds. “We’ve also recommended switching from temp-to-hire to direct hire for specific roles.” Working with a full-service agency that’s not hyper-focused on and inflexible about making only one type of arrangement work can be a unique benefit.
Don’t cut corners even when you need to hire fast. The HT Group helped establish a 22-member call center team in just nine business days. Within the tight timeframe, recruiters interviewed hundreds of candidates over the phone, meeting with more than 70 candidates in person, and picking the top talent from the pool. Each hire underwent a streamlined process of in-person interviews, background checks, skills assessments, and reference checks.
Soon after, the organization touted a near-perfect customer satisfaction rating based on surveys sent to all customers who interacted with the customer support team and received dozens of awards for outstanding customer service. Why? Because the employer didn’t cut corners. They expanded their resources beyond their own capabilities instead.
Call centers aren’t what they were five years ago, and neither is call center staffing. To compete for talent in the coming year, employers must offer competitive compensation, consider hybrid or remote work arrangements, and be specific about their hiring requirements. They should also be prepared to pivot their strategies as needed and avoid cutting corners, even when under pressure to hire quickly. By following these tips, call center employers can attract and retain the top talent they need to succeed in 2024 and beyond. Remember, investing in your call center staffing strategies is an investment in your customer satisfaction and, ultimately, your bottom line.