During the last 18 months of the ongoing pandemic, AnswerFirst has seen a great deal of growth.
With so many workers and businesses forced to go remote, with no preparation or experience, the additional workload isn’t surprising. We’re averaging about 100 new clients every month. That’s significantly higher than in past years.
As always, our employees powered through, rose to the occasion, and provided support to thousands of businesses around the globe. Of course, that added business meant our hiring efforts had to be adapted and refined to meet the demand for more AnswerFirst Customer Service Professionals.
We were thrilled to be able to continue hiring and offering remote work during a time when people were seeking the ability to work from the safety of their homes.
That said, we needed the right candidates to fill these roles. Many job seekers want to work remotely on the surface, yet later find the non-traditional work environment is not a good match for them.
Our recruiters were actually somewhat overwhelmed. They were averaging about 15 new hires each month in 2020. At the beginning of 2021, the focus was to double up on new hire training classes each month and increase the number of trainees in each class, too. So, the goal was to have 25-30 new hires each month.
Our increased call volume was expected and it was successfully being managed for the most part. However, the overwhelming stress of the pandemic, societal tensions, and general unrest actually changed the type of calls we were receiving as well as the demeanor of callers. That was not something we had planned for and our employees were experiencing the stress of it all.
We needed to get to a point where we were overstaffed in the contact center in order to allow our employees some breathing time between calls and to allow for breaks after receiving tough calls.
Call center work is never an easy job, but the additional stressors of the social climate made it an even tougher job for even our top-performing call center personnel. The contact center staff were expressing how difficult the callers had become to the point it was impacting their personal health. And, when you add that to the increase in call volume which led to back-to-back calls, our call center employees were feeling the pressure.
We don’t believe in allowing our employees to work in a high-stress, unhealthy environment so that meant more changes were needed. As part of an effort to reduce work stress, we removed key performance indicator policies. We needed to allow staff to step away after a tough call or just take a breather to regroup when needed.
We even revisited the type of businesses we partner with to be sure that AnswerFirst is a good fit.
Being overstaffed allowed for more breathing room for our staff. We want the contact center staff to be able to focus on being the best version of themselves and ready for the next call. It’s how we provide the excellent customer service our clients have come to know and trust.
Our employees’ well-beings were not something we were willing to compromise for business growth.
We remain hopeful that we will see our way out of this pandemic. Regardless, we will continue to focus on being a well-balanced company that is living up to its vision of a healthy world filled with happy people enjoying exceptional customer care.