Contact Center Management: Secrets to a Successful Transition to a New Provider

Heather Littlejohns walks us through the best practices for transitioning existing contact center management and staff to a new external services provider.

Contact Center Management

If you’re considering transitioning your existing contact center management and staff to a new external services provider, the process doesn’t have to be painful. When handled with sensitivity and a proactive mindset, you can offset many of the traditional transition pitfalls.

There are some key advantages to rebadging existing employees from an incumbent provider, such as minimal disruption in service delivery to your customers, maintenance of tribal knowledge and minimal training costs, continuous customer satisfaction ratings during the transition due to the use of the same staff, and a “no excuses” approach to the achievement of contractually obligated metrics.

What’s required from the incumbent supplier?

Ideally, the incumbent outsourcing services provider will provide all the information you require prior to the transition. However, be prepared to build a contingency plan in the event that the information is not available.

You should ensure that you get hold of current wage ranges/salary bands; incentive schemes and leadership development plans; details that outline benefits and tenure; performance/ratings history; tenure based benefits programs (i.e., vacation); approved holiday schedules and/or time in lieu; variable pay (i.e., language and shift premiums); non-medical/dental benefits (i.e., education assistance, EAP, 401K, employee service award programs); paid holiday commitments; and any cultural expectations that have been set as a precedence.

Employee Transition: A six-step approach

In the case of a large-scale transition of employees, assuming a 90% rebadge situation, a best practice is to assign a dedicated rebadging team. This team will be responsible for ensuring a seamless transition and continuing services to clients with minimal impact to employees.

Communication, which is key to success, will also be driven by this team through six steps:

1 – Understand organization scope and plan your retention strategy.

Identify employees eligible for rebadging and develop your plans to address performance issues and pain points while ensuring the successes of the operation are celebrated.

2 – Schedule group meetings (keep in mind call volumes/adviser availability):

This is a chance to introduce the new employer and conduct meetings to provide an overview of compensation practices and benefit offerings, giving employees the opportunity to ask questions. By treating the meetings like a new product launch or kick off, you can build excitement and take the first step toward creating a positive culture.

Make sure to perform detailed presentations outlining the organization’s history and future direction, delivering the message from the top down. This is also the perfect opportunity to provide employees with details that may impact wages, applicable incentives, benefits, location of work, hours of operation, training, and contact information for their questions, etc. You could even consider delivering the information via kiosks.

3 – Schedule individual meetings (Ideally 30 minutes per employee)

During these meetings, the HR team should meet with employees to review resumes and assess career history and skill sets. Following this evaluation, hiring decisions can be made and formal offers of employment extended. As well, the representatives from the new provider can take note of potential future leaders.

4 – Orientation

Once the new hire paperwork has been completed, conduct training sessions on policies and procedures. In the event that workforce management and quality processes remain the same, the orientation process can be accelerated. Computer-based training programs are great for providing refresher support.

5 – Establish a Partnership Council

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The council should be comprised of representative employee members and I recommend that they meet weekly during the transition period to address concerns or questions.

6 – Conduct follow-up three months after rebadge to assess integration success

This is perhaps the most important step. Operations, projects, planning, and other elements will not succeed without a careful post launch and follow-up strategy. If step six is not well executed, steps one through five will need to be repeated.

Make sure to coordinate small group meetings or satisfaction surveys geared toward your specific program and the effectiveness of on-boarding. Also include a review orientation checklist for reference.

Welcoming new leadership into the fold

The leadership team of the incumbent supplier needs to feel that they’re part of the new team. Ensuring that they’re comfortable with their new employer can help them alleviate apprehension among their own direct reports.

Both Operations and front line support staff should be included in the new employer’s introduction sessions with employees. Individual front line leadership should undergo interviews with the new employer’s HR and Operations teams.

Testing to help determine leadership style and capabilities can also be performed during this time; however, keep in mind that this can be intimidating during a time when employees may be insecure about their jobs. Therefore, position it as career pathing and a way to learn and grow. Results should be reviewed one on one with every participant in a timely manner and then incorporated into the annual goals.

Consider also holding separate meetings to introduce rebadged site leadership to key players from the new employer’s staff (i.e., Workforce, Training, Quality, Client Services, Operations, etc.). I recommend an “all hands” approach in a meet and greet environment. Lunch and learn sessions can also be a nice informal way for employees to learn about the new employer’s processes and practices. Front line leaders will begin to participate in any specific leadership training programs offered by the new employer.

A Seamless Transition is the End Goal

By deploying a dedicated team familiar with an established transition process, and by having seasoned HR team members on site, you will better be able to ensure continuous service to your customers and minimal impact to employees. Remember that when it comes to contact center management communication is crucial throughout the entire process. Be sure to anticipate and proactively address as many questions and concerns as possible.

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