I notice that whenever I interview call center agents, or deal with them on the phone, the quality of the service is never that great. Either their interaction skills are not the best, or their product knowledge is poor. Some people are not so easy to understand on the phone either. So, what is the problem? Is it skills, training, or what?
In my opinion the problem in the call center industry is similar to that in the programming world. There is so much demand for these services that people who are just not that great are able to make a full-time living day after day, and year after year. People also quit so often, or get swallowed up by bigger corporations or larger projects, that good service providers are simply not easily available if you are hiring.
If conditions were different and there were a larger pool of people who wanted call center jobs, but fewer jobs, then companies could raise their educational requirements, have longer contracts (people quit after two months on a whim regularly,) and hire only the ideal candidates.
People outsource work to save money. But, when you read studies and see what the average wage is for a particular job in a particular country, or ask companies what they charge, the rates are deceiving. Knowing average rates doesn’t do you any good. Knowing how much someone you like enough to hire will charge means a lot more. I see that a lot of Filipino companies charge $7 per hour, but I don’t like any of their reps. In Central America it is more like $9 per hour. I have no idea of how good the average Panamanian reps are. India has even cheaper reps, but I am not so satisfied with their language or communication skills unless they are the owner (and that’s only some owners.) Americans seem to have the best communication skills, but are not always so good with understanding technical information. I don’t know if paying more will get me a better agent, or just being lucky. Eventually I want to hire agents to help me out. I wish I knew the secret.
Taking someone with a good personality and teaching them product and technical knowledge seems reasonable. But, can you take someone who is technically good and teach them to have a good personality? The odds seem against you – but, you never know!