North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Phase 2 Strategy - Step 2 Demographics

Understanding the Labor Pool

Today there is a vast amount of data on the labor pool, more than ever before.
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Take the time and drill down as deep as you can to really understand the people who live within 15-30 minutes of your site. Many times contact center site locations are at the convenience of where the executives live and not the agents. Let’s face it; everyone wants to be close to work, but if management is driving the location selection, you must ask yourself “Does our agent live here?” Too many times this is overlooked and contact centers are relocated at big expense only to be moved again to locations where the demographics are more in line with the contact center. This is a critical first step.
Common Mistakes

A common oversight in standing up new contact centers is only looking at the population data – the numbers.

You hear people say “oh there are lots of people in that city” thinking there is a large enough pool of candidates. Hiring agents requires taking a hard look at what your agents need to do; what skills they need to have and drilling down into the population and looking at education levels, communication skills, and technical skills. For example, is your center handling basic customer service calls or advanced application support? These are two centers that require very different candidates.
Another oversight is thinking there are enough candidates. If you are hiring 200 technical agents, does the community have 600-800 candidates from which to select your 200 from? Many times centers fall short and run out of candidates, especially if the turnover is 50% or more. Additionally, when the “candidate well” dries up and recruiters have run through those 800 prospects it becomes a struggle to hire the right candidates after that point, which leads to more challenges. Many times contact centers are relocated so they can start the process over again. As part of the site selection process, take the time to drill down deep into the quality and quantity of the population to ensure a steady pipeline of candidates.
Language and regional dialect is another demographic to consider. Just because agents speak English doesn’t mean they have the correct dialect. What geographic location are your agents taking calls from? Dialect matters not just between countries, but also between different regions of the United States. Everyone knows New Yorkers have a unique dialect and can seem offensive to Southerners or Midwesterners. Matching language and dialect does make a difference in customer satisfaction and agent satisfaction. Everyone wants to “connect”; to be understood and communicate effectively, even contact center agents!
Quantity and Availability of Agents

Drilling down further - reviewing population trends, age, size, population growth, household income, education attainment, labor force participation - are considerations as you ramp up your contact center.

Perhaps today you only need 100 agents, but when you need 200 more, will the community be growing right alongside you to support you? Don’t forget to look at underemployment and unemployment rates. These rates will provide insight regarding agent availability. Reviewing this data during your initial site selection process will help prepare you for the future. Don’t ignore the trends!
Quality of Agents

Reviewing neighborhoods versus entire cities gives companies flexibility to have more sites in the “right” neighborhoods.

Demographics including cost of living, housing prices, taxes, cultural amenities, crime rates, healthcare, and public transportation as well as community appearance tell detailed stories. Does the agent I’m looking for live here?
Cost of Labor

What are the agents you are looking for being paid by competitors?

What will you have to offer agents to come work for you? Will you need to offer incentives? In competitive markets and/or industries the cost of labor rises with incentives. The mortgage industry cannibalizes itself by locating new mortgage contact centers into the same city. The wages and incentives are driven up and up as new centers poach from existing centers. Is your research pointing you to over-saturated markets for YOUR industry?

Tips!

1. Choose a site selector who knows and understands the unique needs of contact centers.
2. When unfamiliar with the workforce, work with local economic development agencies to obtain data and compare to your agent profile for a match.

Take the Next Step!

Choosing the right site selector is the first step in selecting the right site Not all commercial realtors are contact center site selectors! A qualified site selector tracks economic, labor and community data both locally and nationally. Site Selectors have experience in contact centers; they understand the special needs of contact centers, understand the need to drill down into demographics. Finding the right Site Selector is critical. See the Vendor Partner Tabs for Site Selectors.

Work Space Vendors

Contact Center Furniture

Commercial Interior Designer

NACSMA Consultant

Furniture

Specialized Office Systems offers customized solutions to deliver printing, promotional products, apparel, office supplies and business furniture to multiple locations across the country. You will receive the personalized service you want and the attention to detail you need.

Interior Designer

Cresa Commercial founded in 1993 was convinced that representing tenants exclusively was the best way to go. Not only would it give our clients the kind of objective, unbiased advice they might not get elsewhere, but it would also give us a unique offering in the real estate marketplace.

Consultant

The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.