managing seasonal agents

Don’t Make These Mistakes When Managing Seasonal Contact Center Employees

Greg SmoragiewiczLast updated on January 2, 2024
4 min

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Seasonal contact center employees step into strange circumstances.

  • They realize they have a lot to learn, but they also know they won’t need any of that knowledge in a few months.

  • They see that their employers clearly need them, but they also sense that their colleagues not-so-secretly resent them.

  • And even though it’s a temporary gig, they also can’t help but get caught up in the seasonal stress.

So how can you create an inclusive and supportive environment that will help seasonal contact center employees feel like they’re a part of the team?

To get started, we’ll go over three top strategies for managing seasonal contact center employees:

1. Management

2. Specialized Training

3. Ongoing Training Opportunities

Provide Seasonal Contact Center Employees with Senior-Level Managers

You might be hesitant to have seasonal contact center employees report to senior-level managers. But delegating responsibility to junior staff can have some serious repercussions.

For starters, seasonal contact center employees will immediately know you’ve given them a babysitter instead of a boss. And if they see from the start that their progress is not one of your priorities, will they really make your success one of theirs?

Selecting seasonal team leaders via rock-paper-scissors doesn’t send a great message to the rest of your staff either. Building cohesion between temporary agents and permanent employees is already hard enough without managers confirming the second-class status of seasonal workers.

And finally, appointing a junior employee to this particular leadership position can do them a disservice as well.

Seasonal contact center employees typically arrive with minimal industry experience, limited technical proficiency, and nearly zero product knowledge. That means they’ll need more attention, coaching, and correction—not less.

Combine all this with a compressed training period and peak-season pressure, and it should be clear by now why this managerial role is best left to experienced experts. Another perk of setting seasonal contact center employees up with senior-level managers? If they have a good experience, they’ll be more likely to come back in the future or recommend employees down the line.

Create Specialized Training for Seasonal Contact Center Employees

Some companies still imagine seasonal contact center employees as interchangeable parts—warm bodies with winning attitudes and a willingness to jump in wherever they’re needed.

But is versatility really the right goal to pursue?

As we discussed earlier, seasonal contact center employees pose a unique challenge. They generally have less experience, less ability, and less time to make up the difference. So given these inherent deficits, trying to serve this audience your standard training protocol could be a costly mistake.

The more information you overwhelm people with, the less likely they are to retain and apply any of it. That could leave you with a crop of timid, ineffective seasonal contact center employees as a result.

The other risk to watch out for is false confidence. The passing knowledge gained from a brief overview may give some agents the mistaken impression that they’re ready to tackle complex customer issues on their own.

And when those gambles don’t pay off, it often takes an army of veteran support pros to repair the damage.

The best solution for all sides then seems to be a more specialized training regimen. Instead of trying in vain to build a team of generalists on a tight deadline, why not narrow the scope of the mission?

These three priorities are guaranteed to increase the effectiveness of your seasonal contact center employees:

  • Focus on mastering a few support channels instead of juggling all of them.

  • Practice solving the most common issues instead of discussing the outliers.

  • Clarify when to call for backup instead of expecting self-sufficiency.

Seasonal agents, veteran employees, and touchy customers will all appreciate this approach.

Build Ongoing Training Opportunities Into the Workday

The role-play scenarios you rehearse in a conference room will never really replicate the pressure of a live customer conversation. So instead of wrestling against this reality and frantically restyling your training material, the more productive move involves rethinking your training timeline.

You can’t teach seasonal contact center employees everything they’ll need to know before their first shift—and you shouldn’t try to. As long as you make time for continuous training, their skills will gradually get to where they need to be.

This ongoing professional development can take many forms, ranging from scheduled and structured to impromptu and informal. And technology is making it easier than ever.

Managers can casually and silently monitor customer conversations as they happen—even whispering advice to agents in real-time. Or they can schedule formal meetings to review call recordings and suggest tactics for agents to try in future scenarios.

You don’t even have to conduct coaching in person. Compiling FAQs, providing scripts, and creating cheat sheets can help you share your expertise with everyone at once.

So whichever method you prefer, just make the space. There will be plenty of temptation to pile on the shifts during periods of peak demand. But carving out the time for continuous training early will pay larger dividends down the line.

Published on November 21, 2017.

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