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The Call Center Employee in the Pandemic Era

Call center associate working-from-home.
Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Five Star Call Centers shares their journey to employee recruitment, working-from-home, and recognizing employee excellence.

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By Joel Sylvester, Chief Marketing Officer, Five Star Call Centers

 

As we move into the fall season, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on changes. In the past six months since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we as a global community have lived in the unknown and adapted to continuous changes and updates.

Our own team at Five Star has spent numerous hours reviewing practices with our clients and adapting work environments to provide the safest and best environment for our associates. Today, I would like to share a few of those innovations and changes at Five Star.

Innovating the Call Center Hiring Process

Let’s face it. When hiring in a pandemic, all the usual practices go out the window. Fast. When COVID-19 hit, adjustments to hiring practices needed to be made and quickly. Virtual job fairs sprung up, but it was quickly apparent something was missing from those in-person interviews where your team gets to connect with an applicant.

After a summer of phone interviews and virtual job fairs, Five Star Call Centers kicked-off the first of several drive-thru job fairs in our markets where COVID-19 numbers were low. When looking for an innovative way to still create that connection with applicants, the skilled recruitment team at Five Star pitched the idea of a drive-thru concept where our management team could interview applicants outdoors, keeping a safe, social distance and following CDC guidelines.

Applicants stayed in the comfort of their cars as members of the Five Star team interviewed them right in the great outdoors. It was safe for both the applicant and our team, and everyone had a chance to take in the fresh, outdoor air.

After hiring several new associates for our team, we plan to continue the drive-thru concept as long as the weather allows us to.

Work-From-Home – A New Standard for ‘Going to Work’

“I’m headed to work,” also quickly changed in the face of COVID-19. Along with many in the U.S., the Five Star team quickly transitioned to a mostly work-from-home model for our associates. Commutes cut down from 30 minutes to three minutes.

While the initial change was done in a flurry of the unknown, it’s been a change that has been embraced well by the associates of Five Star. It’s also become a key selling point for a new career with Five Star.  So well embraced, one associate shared this poem about the experience:

An old dog learning new tricks

Working from home I like very much

except for the fact that I am out of touch

I miss all the people, the fun I had there

but 3 cats I have here and lots of cat hair

I have Toby and Boomer and Riley all 3

I couldn’t ask more for my kitties and me

Blessed to be working from home and still fed

with TV and music, a roof over our head

Why do I like this working from home?

I get to do things like writing this poem

There’s food and drink, and very cool air

a comfortable couch and a nice easy chair

taken care of I am by support and my boss

get to watch Bonanza with Adam and Hoss

How could it be any better than this?

God watches over my life full of bliss

-Danny

While some associates will still commute and safely work at our physical locations in the Midwest, the at-home model has been embraced and will be an option for most of our associates.

Change is the New Norm

If we’ve learned anything over the last seven months, it’s that change is inevitable and on-going. As we move into fall, we continue to adapt events and programs for our employees. Our annual United Way campaign is moving to a completely virtual format. We are finding innovative ways to celebrate our Five Star associates during Customer Service Week in October, and we’re developing new ways to safely honor and celebrate our employees of the month.

Winter and the holidays will likely bring a new round of changes. After watching the entire Five Star team in action the past seven months, I’m proud of their willingness to take on past challenges and I know they have the determination and mindset to embrace changes yet to come.

About the Author - Joel Sylvester​

Joel’s career spans hundreds of companies and helping each enhance their customer experience. He has recruited, trained, and coached award-winning customer services teams across the globe in industries spanning retail, finance, product support, healthcare, hospitality and more. Today, Joel serves as partner and chief sales and marketing officer for Five Star Call Centers, an outsourcing call center with five locations based in the Midwest.

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