Manage Temporary Service Agents
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Explain how to effectively hire and manage temporary agents.
- Discuss the role of remote agents in your contact center.
- Articulate the security and compliance implications of temporary agents.
Customer demands on your contact center are always changing. Seasonal changes, new products, recalls, and many other things can—and do—alter the demands on your agent workforce. So how do you maintain your ability to meet customer demands when circumstances change? One solution is to hire temporary agents. Let’s take a look at some best practices that can keep your contact center humming along when you’re using temporary agents.
There was a time when temporary contact center agents were only hired for very short periods. For instance, they’d be used when a business anticipated higher than normal activity, like for special events or during holiday seasons. Usually, the temporary agents were required to meet a brief spike in customer call volumes, like times when there is a new product launch or a security breach. The rise of ecommerce and online shopping has driven demand for more (and improved) customer service. As the economy fluctuates, so does the demand for agents seeking temporary or seasonal work at contact centers.
However the temporary agents are added to your contact center staff, while they’re working in your contact center (either physically or remotely), these short-term agents are your agents. Do temporary agents need to be trained differently than full-time agents? No, but they do need to be managed differently. Let’s look at some key considerations.
Expecting a temporary agent to just show up and start answering customer calls without a hitch is not realistic. Even experienced agents need to get the lay of the land with your business, culture, and customer goals. You need to onboard and train your temporary agents as you do your full-time agents whether they work in the contact center or elsewhere. In order to succeed, every agent—whether temporary or permanent—needs to understand your products and services, the unique ways your company resolves issues, and the way it handles escalations. And just like your other employees, temporary agents also should get trained on your company’s core values, ethics, and boundaries of acceptable behavior.
It’s important to understand that business risks exist whenever you hire agents, but temporary agents present additional risks related to security and compliance that need careful consideration.
Temporary agents might not feel as invested in the long-term success of the company. So you want to make sure they're handling customer information with extra care while working at your contact center. You should be mindful of potential security implications whenever you hire temporary agents. Background checks and references should be scrutinized as much as those of permanent agents, if not more. You should also make it a point to restrict access to sensitive information and have temporary agents sign strict non-disclosure agreements.
Compliance with employment laws and regulations are also a concern when taking on temporary agents. Governments typically limit the amount of time that a worker can be classified as temporary without having to hire them or pay their benefits. To avoid running afoul of the law, set a tenure policy in place stating that temporary workers will automatically be terminated after 6 months or a year, depending on the laws in your country. Your corporate benefits plan should also state that temporary workers are excluded from benefits like profit sharing. You may want to have temporary agents sign a waiver stating that they understand the limits of their benefits from the start. Keep in mind that any questions about the legality of your agreements with temporary agents should always be discussed with your company’s legal counsel.
Temporary agents are an important aspect of contact center operations, and they need extra care and consideration. Just remember to provide thorough training and maintain strong security and compliance standards for temporary agents to ensure your center runs smoothly. In the next unit we take a look at remote agents and what you need to do to successfully manage them.