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Diving into a Rich Agent Talent Pool

Is the strength (or weakness) of the available agent talent pool a factor in your decision in where you should outsource your contact center? Behind all of the KPIs and operational processes, employees and agents are a product of their region’s education, linguistic diversity, and economic attributes.
In most cases, the strength of the local talent pool will determine the extent to which contact centers can retain high-quality agents. Recruiting agents to manage complex customer interactions is part art and part science. And in nearly all cases, the recruiting process begins in the contact center’s own backyard.

What’s in Your Center’s Backyard?

We believe there are four key factors that impact an outsourcer’s ability to hire top notch agents with the aptitude and skills to provide exceptional service: 1) regional culture, 2) quality universities and colleges, 3) a progressive immigration policy, and 4) economic health.
Halifax is our back yard, and quite frankly, it’s a great place to recruit agents. And we’re not the only ones who feel this way. RIM opened a 1200-seat tech support center in Halifax because “It is a great location for us (RIM) with very highly skilled people and very good educational environmental and institutional infrastructure to support what we are doing.” Other blue chip companies like ADP, Staples, and Sears also manage customer service operations in Halifax.
Rising above the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Halifax has been storied by notable travelers, poets, and scholars. However, the value of this city doesn’t rest solely in its history. Also referred to as Canada’s “Smart City” and named one of the world’s best locations for business by KPMG, Halifax is brimming with innovation, intelligence, and optimism.

You Need Smart and Friendly People

To effectively manage complex customer interactions, agents must be patient, respectful, and knowledgeable. Obviously, there are warm, welcoming individuals to be found in every community– but locating your center where there is a cultural predisposition to being helpful and friendly can offer an advantage in keeping your recruiting funnel full of service-oriented candidates.
We’re lucky. The people of Halifax are noticeably friendlier than that of other cities. Don’t just take our word for it; take wiki.answers.com word for it: “Halifax is known for “Fish, the Halifax Explosion and the Friendliest People.” We would also add that Halifax is known for the quality and quantity of its educational assets as well.
Educated job seekers possess the foundational communication and problem solving skills to be highly successful in the contact center. Halifax is home to six universities and over 25 colleges. Local residents and the international student community have taken advantage of this abundance of available schooling; nearly 70% of residents have a trade, college, or university degree. In comparison, less than 7% of the earth’s inhabitants hold college degrees.

Multicultural Means Multilingual

In a previous post, we talk about diversity in the contact center. We believe that immigration is good for business. Locating a contact center where there is strong government, not-for-profit and business support for immigration programs can help boost the availability of skilled, multilingual workers. Nova Scotia, and in extension Halifax, has a strong immigration program. The city’s linguistic diversity also benefits its companies, especially customer service teams who interact with customers in Spanish or French for North American markets or for programs supporting customers in Europe and South America, for instance.

Location and the RFP

The task of hiring a quality staff is a challenge no matter where a business is located. We see a trend in RFPs probing deeply into location-based factors like:
  • Labor force availability and skills
  • Educational assets of both vendor and community
  • Economic snapshot of communities where facilities are located
The combination of cultural and economic traits we’ve discussed here are fundamental to a center’s ability to deliver positive experiences when agents are handling complex customer engagements. The challenge for procurement professionals is how to gather, measure, and compare the value of a potential vendor’s location relative to your desired outsourcing outcomes.
Like the folks at RIM, we’re happy to boast about the quality of Halifax as a BPO destination. If you would like to learn more about how we are recruiting great agents from this exceptional labor force, please read our download “Blue Ocean Recruiting.”
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