How the Contact Centre market has changed during COVID-19

The contact centre environment has changed dramatically as a result of COVID-19.  As such, the ways in which contact centres operate have also changed. From employees working remotely, to having a larger pool of candidates to choose from and new digital hiring processes – contact centres have had to adapt and diversify.

Below we explore some of the main challenges contact centres are now having to face and how businesses are can use these to their advantage to plan their return to work strategies.

1. Hiring skills needed for the future

There are some key questions that contact centres must ask themselves in relation to the types of people and skills required in their new working environments. As more people are working from home, the skills required for call centre agents have changed. They are having to adapt from a fast-paced dynamic office environment to one in their home. Contact centres are now needing employees who can self-manage, self-motivate and rely on themselves for high levels of productivity and engagement.

2. Access to more diverse talent

COVID-19 has enforced the need for more flexible working patterns (e.g. working from home) and with the Office of National Statistics deeming this one of the top job quality indicators in the UK – this should widen the candidate pool when hiring. Individuals such as new parents (who previously took time off) or even employees such as flight attendants now can use contact centre roles as a re-introduction into working life. Employees such as these have invaluable customer service experience which can be extremely beneficial in customer facing roles.

3. Spikes in call volumes & new tech

Industries such as Tech were already driving change rapidly before lockdown and now this seems to be ever more prevalent in providing the best solutions for new ways of working. Some contact centres are adopting solutions such as chat boxes and coupling this with a better recruitment process to bring in quality candidates – in order to handle the massive increase in call volumes they are facing. By incorporating such tech, what would have been more transactional calls can be handled online, meaning contact centres can focus on hiring higher quality advisors who are able to handle more complex calls allowing for greater customer service.

4. New onboarding practices

The above points highlight how important it is to review hiring and onboarding practises to ensure organisations are bringing on the right skills, at the right time in order to future-proof their workforce. Many contact centres are now working with recruitment partners to help explore bespoke hiring solutions, specific to their needs. By using virtual methods of hiring and onboarding, as well as updating the language used in ads to reflect the new skills being sought after, organisations can ensure a thorough hiring process where only the best quality candidates are selected.

5. Future proofing and upskilling

Future proofing doesn’t just mean getting the right candidates through the door, it’s also about retaining them. Contact centres are now finding practises such as facilitating regular review meetings and both virtual and on-site development surgeries are keeping employees’ engagement and motivational levels high within their workforce. By offering upskilling and training opportunities call handlers are able to improve their skills in courses covering topics from improving communications and problem-solving to building resilience and working in a virtual team.


If you’re interested in knowing more, our specialist team at Brook Street have used our learnings from the COVID-19 crisis to develop new solutions for contact centre assessments, onboarding, employee engagement, and more. For more information on our services and how we can help, please get in touch or you can find your nearest office here.

To receive more updates about contact centre talent, please email [email protected].