For most businesses, it is a normal expectation to bring in extra support for seasonal staffing. This is especially true for call centers that need to increase staff to meet the demands during peak holidays and event-driven periods. But for this hiring process to be successful, companies need the right combination of technology, people, and recruiting and training strategies so they can manage high call volumes without sacrificing quality or their bottom line. 

In this three-part blog series, we dive into the details of what the right combination of tools, people, and strategies looks like so you can partner with your next BPO partner with confidence.  

In part one, we focused on CX technology. In part two, we’ll dive more into hiring, training, and retention strategies.

This blog post shows you:  

  • Best recruiting techniques to find the best-fitting employees fast 
  • Best training strategies and tools to increase speed-to-proficiency 
  • Innovative retention strategies for contact center employees  

Let’s dive in. 

How to Recruit, Train, and Retain Employees for Busy Season Contact Center Staffing

To bring in as many candidates as possible, your BPO partner should be able to recruit as many qualified call center agents as possible — fast.

Recruiting: When you need to hire right and hire fast

Go Big on Referrals

By far, the biggest candidate pool for iQor comes from employee referrals. Referred employees are more likely to stay throughout the season — and longer– because they know what’s needed and expected.

Year-round, we encourage referrals through our Talent Referral Incentive Program (TRIP). TRIP is a unique rewards program that provides employees with cash incentives for bringing in employee referrals.

Referred employees can account for as much as 60-70 percent of our seasonal hires for seasonal events. Some of our programs will hold “resume parties” where employees invite their friends and family members to see what iQor is all about.

Here are three other ways iQor hires right and hires fast: 

  • Leverage Pool of Candidates and Social Channels. At iQor, we draw upon our existing pool of pre-qualified candidates and our recruitment automation platform. We use social media channels like Facebook to find and engage candidates automatically. We build relationships with our employees so many come back year after year while others to continue working. So when one client’s peak season ends, iQor is able to allocate employees to another client who is in need of additional support.
  • Automate Pre-Screening. From there, we send an automatic mobile link for our customized pre-screening questionnaire. If the candidate meets the criteria, our recruiter reaches out to them within the hour via text message and phone call. 
  • Track Candidates Like They’re Your Best Leads. One key difference in our recruiting process is that we track candidates like we would sales leads. We then staff our recruiters accordingly to contact every pre-screened candidate and ensure we get them set up for interviews as soon as possible. 

Once the candidate finishes the final round of interviews (in-person or virtual), they are extended an offer. In combination with our private cloud technology, this recruiting system instantly allows your company to ramp up agents in any location. 

iQor deployed this methodology for our eCommerce client and successfully hired 1,500 customer support experts in just two months. 

Training: Proactive Development of Next Generation Leaders to Support the Influx of Seasonal Hires

Around two to three months before a seasonal ramp, iQor begins developing high-potential frontline agents for leadership roles. These new leaders will serve as team leads, trainers, and subject matter experts to provide additional support for the large number of new employees. This helps reduce burnout, mitigate stress, and aid in speed-to-proficiency as employees dive into a call center environment experiencing some of the busiest times of the year.

Some of our award-winning leadership development courses include:

  • PeaQ Performance Qoaching (PPQ) training. PeaQ is a coaching leadership workshop that aims to coach and develop current iQor leaders with a focus on driving team performance and positive engagement in both physical call centers and work-at-home environments. Participants learn how to identify and coach to an agent’s root cause behavior using multiple techniques.
  • sQholar program. The sQholar program is a series that provides a clear path to leadership roles through training and skill development. sQholar’s are trained to be supportive, they learn how to build trust and provide constructive feedback which will result in less turnover, increased retention, and highly engaged team members leading to higher Net Promoter Scores, client satisfaction and increased ROI.

Retaining: Seasonal Contact Center Employees 

Now more than ever, employees expect more from their employers. So, reducing turnover will take more than a few performance-based incentives – it’s going to take an employee-centric approach that celebrates successes, promotes transparency, and shows proof that the company values and appreciates its workforce. 

Here’s what we found are four sure-fire ways to increase retention for peak seasonal staffing: 

Use employee-centric data analysis 

At iQor, we track retention by many attributes, including recruiter, lead source, work type, geo, and many more, to analyze winning retention combinations and where we can tweak areas for success. Our recruiting teams also employ a simulation and talent prediction toolset better to understand a potential recruit’s strengths and characteristics. We have found that better hires coupled with increased employee engagement result in improved retention.  

We utilize a recruiting analytics tool to enable operations and human resources to report on each recruiting source, applicant, hire, and retention rate at 30 and 60 days, by location and the program. Sites identify successful recruiting sources and will target future recruiting dollars in those areas. This analytics tool allows us to predict future turnover to take proactive steps to improve retention and identify our best employees for better-targeted marketing. 

Celebrate success 

We celebrate employees’ achievements and top performers through regular events such as giveaways, contests, and celebrations to foster a team spirit and create positive energy. We also incorporate retention bonuses and provide extra resources to support resources through their coaching and development. Currently, we host our global iQor Recognize Awards, where employees and leaders can nominate fellow iQorians throughout the year for their exceptional work and achievements.

One of our favorite ways to connect with employees is through our Engagement Champions, who plan and lead activities that engage and recognize employees. These individuals are outgoing, charismatic types that help energize teams, reduce stress, and create a welcoming environment through acts of kindness and genuine care.

Surveys 

Surveys are great tools for gauging contact center agents’ level of satisfaction and helping you find out the best ways to improve their work environment. 

Every week, we survey every employee through our employee portal with a simple five (5) – star question “How’s life for you at iQor?” The results are confidential and roll up to provide each line of business a score between one and five. The trend enables us to measure the impact of change and identify opportunities for more engagement and retention. 

Keep work-at-home an option 

According to Gartner, seventy percent of customer service and support employees want to continue to work at home (WAH) at least once a week after the pandemic ends. Despite growing concerns for the future of organizational culture from some service leaders, Gartner’s data indicates that WAH has not posed too great a challenge to organizational culture. In fact, most customer service employees who work remotely say that organizational culture has remained relatively unchanged – and more than 7 out of 10 think it’s improved since their shift to WAH.  

At iQor, our work-at-home solution allows the onsite experience to be easily mirrored at the agent’s home and improves agent performance and retention. 

Finding the best-fitting employees fast, building a solid talent pipeline, and retaining employees throughout the busy season can be a challenge. Organizations need to go beyond the standard practices and start using automation, data, and employee-centric strategies to better impact their contact center operations. If you’re outsourcing seasonal staff during peak times, look for a partner that can imbed this mindset across recruiting, training, and retention strategies so that you can navigate spikes in customer care volumes with confidence in your teams and your bottom line. 

Are you ready for the next big holiday or promotional event? Let us help you optimize your seasonal staffing needs with digital tools and irresistible people to give your customers the best experience.   

Learn more about iQor’s seasonal staffing solutions