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4 Ways to Improve Contingent Workforce Performance in Your Call Center

By: Bob Dunmire on April 22nd, 2019

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4 Ways to Improve Contingent Workforce Performance in Your Call Center

Outsourcing

Improving contingent workforce performance in your call center can be a challenge. These workers are not like your regular staff. They were hired on a temporary basis, usually by an outside staffing company or outsourcer, to complete a specific project. Contingent workers are often paid differently and receive less training than your full time workforce. They may even have different performance standards. All of these factors can make managing this personnel a contingent workforce difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. While comparing a contingent workers to regular staff is often like apples to oranges – there are things you can do to manage both groups efficiently. The following workforce management techniques will help you improve contingent workforce performance.

 

Clear Process

The first step is to clarify the processes and procedures that are in place. If you aren’t careful, sparsely documented standards of practice end up being open to interpretation, often with unwelcome circumstances. It is time-consuming and messy as agents misinterpret the courses of action they should follow. These misunderstandings can mean an inconsistency or confusion while handling customers. Often they create additional calls and transfers that diminish the customer experience. If time is short and you have to plug in the new employees quickly, it is best to start with simpler or fewer tasks and add more as the experience builds. The proper call routing and queuing can make this setup work well and even enhance the customer experience. When you have time, the proper clarification of  your processes and procedures prevents frustrated customers. When you define each call type and provide training on each action in great detail, there is no room for misinterpretation.

At GCS, we work with our clients a create and maintain a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for each task assigned to the workforce we provide, contingent or otherwise. Every item is described in complete detail, often with images, videos, and screen recordings. Also, we assign each procedure to a single internal owner. This individual works with the client  on any changes or deviations from the processes set in place. Then they are responsible for ensuring our workforce is coached on the changes.


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Hold Training

We also recommend using the SOPS as part of the training process. From the very beginning, your agents should have the chance to understand how your procedures fit into the way that your company does things. After explaining the process, those agents need a chance to practice what they have learned, be tested on real-world situations (that are not always linear) in a controlled environment and receive coaching on how to do better in a consistent way.

One of the things that makes GCS unique is how we approach all of our training in a very systematic and organized way. We use a five-step process:

  1. Delivery

  2. Learning

  3. Thinking

  4. Practicing

  5. and Doing.

Our classroom training starts with agents receiving an orientation to the project. This is a time for learning broad concepts about the program and their role in the process and organization. They are taught the culture and how their actions support it. Then we train them on the specific needs of the client’s program on which they will be working. Then we practice through role play and activities to embed the knowledge and make the responses natural feeling and confident. After new agents receive the classroom training on your products and services, company culture, and finally your procedures for interacting with callers, we transition them to the floor, slowly.

Next, agents pass through a nesting period. During this time, they are assigned to a senior agent and overseen by the trainer. First they observe and listen in to calls. Then they begin to take take a few calls with the mentor's help. Periodically the trainees return to the classroom to go over any unclear items or to add new knowledge to the skills they have learned. On the floor, our new agents are often given different colored lanyards so that the rest of the staff can easily see who is new and might need additional support.

In the end, transitioning from a new hire to an agent is a process that takes several weeks, but managing those well-trained individuals is easier and their performance is stronger. Coaching and review happen daily so if there is a function, feature, or issue that is unclear to an agent, they have the opportunity to discuss those items with a trainer and receive coaching on how to address the situation (as opposed to simply receiving a definition or directive).

 

Agent Blending

You might also want to consider agent blending as a way to improve contingent workforce performance. Blending occurs when an agent is tasked with working on more than one program or broad call types. For instance, both receiving inbound calls and making outbound calls. While many larger call centers make a practice of dividing inbound and outbound agents, there are some good arguments for combining the two functions. The biggest advantage to agent blending is it improves productivity by eliminating downtime. As soon as an agent ends a call, he or she is tasked with placing a new one. You might also see some gains in productivity because managing resources is more effective.

When agents have greater access to your customers’ information, it can translate into increased sales and customer satisfaction. For instance, you have a trained customer support agent making outbound calls to promote a new product. The skilled agent will be able to help the customer in areas outside of the new product. Customers can ask other questions and get real answers. For example, when inbound and outbound call services are divided, an outbound agent may not have access to recent order information or tracking. If the person they call asks about the status of a package they do not have to transfer the call to provide an answer.

In a blended environment, agents can handle both functions.

In turn, your customers may feel like your calls are a softer sell. Informed selling is a good example of this: “We are calling you today because we know how much you have enjoyed XYZ widgets in the past. I see here that you ordered 1,000 widgets in 2017 and in 2018. We want to give you the first opportunity to try our newest model.”

Better technology makes it happen. Some contact center infrastructure is moving into the cloud and benefiting from Software as a Service (SaaS) modules that improve the way agents access information. Artificial intelligence and Big Data are fueling the customer service revolution by allowing companies to tap into their existing resources in more meaningful ways, predicting customer behavior and identifying opportunities.

 

Outsource

Finally, if you want to improve contingent workforce performance, why not outsource the management of your team? After all, you likely used a service to hire your contingent staff. They identified the best candidates and helped you through the hiring process. Why not let the same company help you clarify your processes, onboard each agent, train them on the ways that you do things, and then manage their performance?

GCS can help you manage your contingent workforce in a way that maximizes their performance and provides lasting benefit to your organization. We are experienced in setting up training programs for temporary and permanent agents. We know how to establish a set of standard operating procedures that consider a variety of situations and scenarios, so your staff is always prepared. We can also train your managers to be more effective in the way that they lead by teaching them how to monitor and coach agents to achieve excellence on the call floor.

 


The Complete Guide to Call Center Services

What you NEED to know about the different call center services available to you

Learn more