This Holiday Season will Belong to the Creative Contact Center Staffers

Wow! The U.S. Job market is on fire! Recently released data shows the unemployment rate is 3.7%, the lowest it's been since 1969 when a good chunk of our population was removed from the work force in order to fight the war in Vietnam. There are currently more job openings than there are people looking for jobs (7M vs 6M). That's terrific news for workers, but contact centers planning to staff up for the holiday season must be sweating a little. If not, how about this statistic: companies like Target, Amazon, UPS and FedEx plan to hire 704k seasonal workers this year, an increase of about 90k year over year. Is it getting hot in here?

So, yes, contact centers who need to staff up to meet holiday demands are going to face some additional challenges this year. Employing creative solutions will be more important than ever. If you are one of these companies hiring seasonally in your contact center, here are some creative staffing ideas:

Appeal to Freelancers - The "gig" economy is changing how a lot of people view work. Companies like Uber and Lyft have given their workers flexibility and options. It's not for everyone, but some people have really embraced the appeal of working short-term gigs and then moving on. In fact, by one estimate, 150M people in North America and Europe work as independent contractors. Things that appeal to them about freelancing include having more control of their work / life balance, being able to make extra money (by picking up extra shifts) and having more control over the work they do. Can your contact center support these goals and are you marketing your job openings in the right way and the right place to reach gig workers? It's worth thinking about.

"Go where the talent is" - I'm borrowing this phrase from Nadim Hajje from Omega World Travel. In a recent webinar, he explained that his company overcomes a shortage of local travel agents by "going where the talent is." In other words, because they have their contact center in the cloud, they can recruit at home agents and they aren't limited to recruiting locally - the entire country is their oyster. Even though the national average unemployment rate is low, there are still parts of the country where plenty of people are looking for work. Are you positioned to tap into that?

Outsource - Plenty of companies outsource part of their volume during the holidays. There are numerous ways to allocate the volume to the outsourcer, including overflow only, overnight coverage, a fixed percentage or one channel only (for example, email). And if you have cloud contact center technology, this is even easier to scale. With the right routing tools, you can be very creative with how you structure your arrangement. You can even split the volume between two outsourcers. By outsourcing, you're essentially putting the onus on a vendor to figure out how to overcome the labor market challenges, so choose your partner well.

This holiday season will belong to the creative contact center staffers. Are you ready?