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Call Center of the Future Best Practice: StarTek "The Enterprise of Call Centers Just Got Better"
Pura Vida meets A Call Center Enterprise of the Future.
It's a Call Center that Kirk and Spock would both approve of and there's even a ship's Dr. on board. I know I risk disappointing "Live Long and Prosper Star Trek Fans" but in this article we will not be beaming you up. Rather, we will be visiting "StarTek", an innovative call center soon to go live in Costa Rica.
I have had the privilege to watch the construction of StarTek's newest call center based in Costa Rica and to get to know the on the ground leadership team responsible for Start-Up.
Why does StarTek make my Cut for Best Practices? Place, Passion and People!
As a former Customer Service Manager for one of the largest Call Centers in the U.S. and Coach/Consultant for Call Center Sales and Customer Service, I keep an eye out for call centers that demonstrate "Best Practices", particularly companies that are working passionately to improve the perception that "Customer Service over the Phone" is a nightmare and "Working in a Call Center" an even greater one. Let's not even talk about the reputation of "Off-Shore Call Centers."
1) Place: The Feng Shui of Call Centers.
StarTek recognizes that environment impacts employee attitude which impacts customer service call quality! Following leaders like Google, StarTek's Costa Rica Call Center has a hip modern design to attract and energize employees who appreciate the quality of their work space. Costa Rica's "Nature of Inspiration" is also evident in this creative design with each floor representing a different eco system of Costa Rica. There's a Rainforest Floor, Volcano Floor and even a Floor that's a Day at the Beach! A spacious and bright employee lunch room helps to energize employees so the last call of the day is as enthusiastic as the first.
Under the direction of Call Center Site Manager Ryan Carey, the StarTek Customer Service Call Center is a creative and comfortable environment with on-site catering, free transportation for employees, an on-site doctor and even a recreation room with a Wii that all combine to create a positive and productive workplace. Carey has gone the extra mile in the design, having sat in the chair of a call center agent and the results are note worthy.
Listen up Call Center Managers: There's a reason prisons are depressing places! It's called environment! I have witnessed far too many call centers including my own years ago, that do nothing to energize the employees and indeed resemble a prison. The result is what we have settled for in the industry and as customers: Robotic agents that can barely wow themselves yet alone provide WOW! Customer Service over the phone. PS: Providing a creative and positive work environment shows returns in both productivity and reduced turnover.
2) Passion and People: Hire for Attitude/Train for Skill and Commit to Hiring only the Best!
In my years of teaching "How to Recruit and Hire the Right People", I perhaps have not seen a more rigorous recruitment process in the Call Center Industry. According to StarTek's passionate Director of Strategic Recruiting and Talent Acquisition, Holly Reed, the secret is in the sophisticated recruitment process that seeks to identify the candidate's value proposition. Does the employee fit both the skills needed by successful agents as well as the StarTek Culture?
According to Reed, StarTek is looking for the “5 E's” in their Call Center Sales Agents: Engaged, Experienced in Sales, Enthusiasm, Excellence in English Language Skills and Employees who actually Enjoy Sales! Duh! Why hire someone who hates sales if their primary job is selling? It may sound like common sense but you would be surprised at the lack of that consideration by call center managers caught in a turnover tsunami. To those managers, a recommendation to stop the madness! Ask not why employees are leaving but why your top performers are staying and develop a strategic recruitment and retention process around that question.
StarTek's recruitment process for agents includes an on-line application, followed by a sales assessment, followed by a 155 data point interview over the phone. Then comes the next phase of an on-site interview by the team in which the candidate also interviews StarTek, experiences first hand what the job is about, through listening and observation of calls and a final test which I believe is pivotal. Sorry if I told you that secret recruitment test, I'd have to kill you! No unfair advantage in the StarTek application process. Suffice to say the team at StarTek is seeking the Real Deal: Passionate, Personable and Performance Driven and Yes, they live by --Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill.
Many more articles in Customer Relationship Management in The CEO Refresher Archives