Reassessing the value of those staff on the front-line

Mark Davies

June 3, 2021

Mark Davies is managing director of BCMGlobal

We know that the call‐centre environment can be challenging. Workloads can be repetitive and often involve dealing with dissatisfied customers. Employee well‐being is an important consideration for employers.

The increase in the use of call centres has been driven by customer demand for ‘out of office hours’ access to a range of services, as well as their desire to access 24/7 services from home.

Coupled with this, employers also favour call centres because they enable organisations to cut the cost of servicing customers, by centralising customer‐facing operations in one place.

Technological advances too have also fuelled not just their expansion but also the reliance businesses place upon them.

The pandemic has afforded businesses the added opportunity to prove this model can operate from home.

Our reliance on remote working in the service industries has been almost total and our people have certainly not failed us, many of them stepping up, but at a cost.

Whatever the purpose of a business’ call centre there has long been an inherent tension between quality and quantity.

An important aim of the majority of call centres is to deal with calls quickly and efficiently, often impersonally and to a prescriptive formula.

However, the real key to their success is balancing efficiency and customer satisfaction, and that’s not always about the stats and metrics used to monitor corporate performance.

The pandemic unleashed, understandably, a host of worried and concerned borrowers. Our own staff, many of whom do not actually have mortgages, were dealing with people in a significant place of stress and doing it from home too. We did as much as we could to help and those staff in return did us proud.

But another challenge is coming over the horizon. A number of lenders must move borrowers on legacy loan products off LIBOR rates by the end of the year.

Again, we will be communicating with many borrowers who will be anxious to know that their new arrangements will not cost them more and that they will not be disadvantaged by this regulatory decision.

The truth is we don’t yet know if that will be the case. The discontinuance of LIBOR has been addressed not from the point of the retail borrower but from the point of sophisticated wholesale or retail investor.

One thing is certain. The people in our business who will be the ones talking to these customers, trying to assuage any anger and soothe any concerns, are the same people who held borrowers’ hands during the pandemic.

Only this time they will need to understand what the difference between LIBOR and the new rate will mean, explain why it has been changed and how the borrower will be financially affected by it.

It is not a stretch to say that the source of much of the stress embedded in call centre work is the level of ‘emotional labour’ required for the job.

Decision makers will expect us to communicate the detail of these changes to customers and deal with the emotional factors that will accompany this task.

We will of course have programmes in place to support our people but their ability to deliver again and again should not go underestimated.

Neither colleagues nor clients should doubt our willingness to applaud them for their continued efforts to look after borrowers.

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