Traditional Seasonal Hiring is Killing Your Contact Center Culture

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Contact centers have long been the lifeblood of customer service. They’re the front lines where consumers meet brands, creating touchpoints that can make or break customer relationships. The key to happy customers is happy agents. One of the toughest seasons to keep agents happy is during the busy season. When contact centers add seasonal hiring into the mix, they create a disruption to the normal flow of operations. While seasonal operations may seem like a short period of time in the overall calendar year, it is one of the most crucial seasons that defines your contact center culture. The decisions your management team makes during this season have a ripple effect on the rest of the year. Depending on your approach, it's a practice that has lasting consequences on contact center culture.

The Ripple Effect of Seasonal Hiring: Leadership to Agents

The practice of seasonal hiring, although logical on the surface, often disrupts the finely tuned balance within a contact center. This crunched operation resonates across various tiers, from leadership roles to the agents, and, most importantly, impacts how your teams deliver your brand’s customer experience.

Here are three key reasons why:

Reactive Hiring and Talent Shortages: Successful seasonal hiring needs to begin months, if not quarters, in advance of your expected seasonal surge. However, it can be challenging to convince your finance team to give you the go-ahead to hire agents who may not be 100% utilized in the months or weeks leading up to your busy season. This puts immense pressure on your management and hiring teams to condense seasonal hiring into a short period of time. This could lead to tighter training schedules, which ultimately impact agent performance. Or, as we see more commonly in today’s talent shortage, contact centers are lowering the bar and, in turn, hiring agents with less experience to meet their numbers.

Consider a scenario where a contact center traditionally spends six weeks training new recruits. With seasonal hires, this might be shortened to two weeks, coupled with the fact that these agents may not be as experienced as their full-time agents. The knowledge gap can lead to increased customer complaints, longer handling times, and lowered first-call resolution rates.

Decreased Team Cohesion: Building a team is about more than just filling seats. It's about creating a cohesive unit that works together seamlessly. Seasonal hiring disrupts this cohesion, leading to potential rifts or silos within the team. This can create frustration for existing full-time agents trained and accustomed to working a certain way. The introduction of new talent could create a sense of false competition as existing agents could feel their jobs are at stake as seasonal agents are tempted with the potential to make a move to full-time work. Long-term agents might feel less invested in collaborating with or assisting seasonal hires, knowing they might not be around in a few months. Or seasonal agents may not feel as invested, knowing they may not have the chance to move to full-time work.

This results in a lose-lose for both seasonal and full-time agents, as the expectations of their performance seem unclear. For management they are hyper-focused on meeting service levels they miss sustaining a culture that prioritizes the expectations and concerns of both existing and new hires. 

Reputation and Branding Impacts: As the saying goes, "Your team defines your brand." High churn rates and a rotating door of agents can signal instability, making it challenging to attract and retain top talent in the future. If a company gains a reputation for heavy reliance on seasonal hires and not offering long-term growth opportunities, it could deter potential full-time agents from joining, viewing the company as offering only temporary employment.

The Gig-based Solution: A Win for Contact Centers and Agents Alike

Enter GigCX—a solution that could potentially resolve many of the challenges of seasonal hiring. 

Improved Agent Experience: Leveraging gig-based agents means flexibility, cost efficiency, and a maintained level of expertise for contact centers. On the other hand, gig-based agents are afforded flexibility, autonomy, and the potential to opt into variable work. In short, they are eager and willing to work on temporary, seasonal work. This autonomy can lead to increased job satisfaction, potentially translating to better customer service.

Cost Savings: Unlike traditional hiring, where there are fixed costs associated with recruitment, training, and benefits, the gig model operates on an on-demand basis. Companies can scale up or down quickly, aligning expenses with actual needs. Partners at ShyftOff save an average of up to 35% in operating costs during the busy season by supporting their existing operations with a GigCX model. 

Streamlined Operations: With a pool of experienced gig agents, contact centers can find better alignment with talent that can serve their customers. These agents, often seasoned in the industry, can hit the ground running. This can help mitigate some of the additional resources and expenses that come with hiring agents with less experience, which we often see take place in traditional seasonal hiring. 

Closing Thoughts

In the rapidly evolving landscape of customer service, traditional models need reassessment. Seasonal hiring, while serving immediate needs, can strain a contact center's culture, directly impacting the brand and service quality. GigCX, rooted in the principles of the gig economy, presents a dynamic, scalable, and efficient alternative. As the lines between traditional employment and gig work blur, it's time for contact centers to embrace this change for a sustainable future.

A flexible model like GigCX equips you with the flexibility and resources needed to adapt in real-time to your seasonal needs.

For more insights and actionable strategies, you might be interested in the following resources from our blog: 

Let’s make this holiday season your easiest one yet. Get started with your GigCX pilot this week. Contact our team to get started.

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