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Diversity in the Contact Center

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities,” wrote Stephen R. Covey, business professor and best-selling author. The same holds true in the contact center business.

It is a well-established fact that one of the primary benefits of partnering with a contact center for customer care is having someone else shoulder recruiting and human resources responsibilities. That benefit is magnified when you are recruiting and managing a customer care team to provide support across continents in multiple languages for diverse cultures.

If your company wants to provide great care for customers in multiple languages (even more common languages such as English, Spanish, or French for major markets in North America) – partnering with a contact center with a proven track record in recruiting and retaining a culturally and linguistically diverse workforce makes sense on a number of levels.

From our standpoint – finding technically capable, bilingual and multilingual employees in a city the size of Halifax, Canada can be challenging. While still small in comparison to larger cities, Halifax attracts people from all corners of the world, and from all walks of life. Attracting linguistically capable and culturally sensitive agents begins with the recruiting process and requires nurturing throughout the employee life cycle.

Walk the Talk to Build a Diverse Workforce

For any diversity program to be successful within a contact center, the company and their recruiters and HR professionals need to understand and support the unique needs of their local immigrant communities. Become a valuable resource for agent candidates. Establish and nurture partnerships with organizations and government departments that serve immigrants. Become subject matter experts in the work permit process. Show job prospects how you can help them in the visa process or how to help them find answers to their work authorization questions. Navigating residency paperwork, various work visas, and student visas can be complex. Be patient and stay close. We have often seen great candidates spending months getting their paperwork processed before we are able to hire them.

On any given week at Blue Ocean, we might be helping an employee to get a work permit renewal application completed; we might be providing documentation supporting an employee’s permanent residency application; or we might even be having a discussion with a potential employee about what process they need to complete before we can hire them. Recruiters can position a company as the ‘employer of choice’ when they demonstrate they know the ins and outs of the immigration process.

Managing a Culturally-Diverse Agent Workforce

Contact center leaders who actively promote diversity policies will be sensitive to minority employees’ needs. Diversity programs do not end with the recruiting process; they require constant cultivating and leadership to get the most benefit.

Nurturing a diverse, multilingual workforce is not for the faint of heart. It can get hairy at times when visas are involved and employees want to visit their families in their home countries for holidays. For instance, it’s quite common for many agents from South America to make an annual trip to visit family during Christmas for weeks at a time. During times like this, operations teams must balance cultural sensitivities without compromising workforce optimization or client deliverables. By prepping the workforce and cultivating a nice pipeline of capable candidates, the contact center can meet the needs of fluctuating client volumes peaks and valleys.

Benefits of a Happy, Diverse Contact Center Team

When done right, diversity in the contact center should result in big wins for the customer, the company, and the contact center.

Offloading recruiting and HR duties to the outsourcer removes the burden on clients to recruit and retain a capable, multi-lingual agent workforce. Good agents know other good people in the desired agent demographic, which can help the outsourcer find more capable candidates. We see referral rates approaching 50% from happy agents who feel valued by an HR team with in-depth knowledge of the soup-to-nuts process.

Attracting and retaining a diverse staff is essential to Blue Ocean’s contact center operation in order to support businesses operating across North America, South America, and Europe. Maintaining a technically-capable, bilingual, and multilingual workforce is a conscious decision to be different for all the right customer service reasons. If you would like to learn how our diverse agent workforce can serve your customers, contact us to start a conversation.

 

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