Last week, I wrote a blog in response to an article in the The Guardian about the opening of a new contact centre in Salford staffed entirely by resting actors.
In return, I received a healthy response both from people who liked the blog, and from people who were critical of it and came out in defence of the company behind this initiative.
First of all, I would like to apologise if in any way I suggested that RSVP doesn’t deliver a first-rate service to their clients, they have a proven track record stretching back 25 years and a long list of satisfied clients.
My intention wasn’t to vilify the employment practices of a specific contact centre, but to encourage debate about the need for more professionalism across the sector. Anyone who has been in the business for as long as we all have, must recognise the problems we face with regard to absenteeism and churn.
The blog was in response to the Guardian’s angle on the story; that this is some kind of model for the future. That it is up to contact centres to be more flexible, more accommodating to the idea that the role of an agent doesn’t have to be a career, merely a stop-gap.
As we all know, this model isn’t representative of the clear majority of contact centres, (which is the reason why it made the news in the first place).
I still question whether a model such as this is sustainable over time, and I’m not alone. Both Xerox and Gartner have championed the need to improve the professionalism of agents in the face of the increasing onslaught of digital channels.
The fact is, the future survival of the contact centre depends on it.
By accepting that the job is a mere stop-gap, it only serves to further denigrate the role of the contact agent professional. For many agents it isn’t a temporary measure, it’s their career. How can we attract better, more capable people, if it isn’t perceived as a worthwhile occupation?
At EvaluAgent we believe that the way forward is to nurture a fully engaged, highly motivated and extremely qualified workforce. Agents for whom it is their chosen profession; who are capable of delivering the best very best experience; to an increasingly demanding customer.
And that, surely is the answer. No question.