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According to Kyle Goaté, operations manager at Isilumko Staffing (IS), a national recruitment company which offers temporary, flexible and permanent staff, contact centres both locally and globally have seen enormous growth over the past 2 decades. What is it that attracts businesses to set up contact centres, especially in Cape Town, how do they recruit staff and what opportunities do they offer?

Goaté explains, “On the one hand, Cape Town offers a lifestyle that appeals to both the business operators and their staff. On the other, although contact centres attract job seekers, vetting them and preventing a high attrition rate is a challenge. IS has been specialising in this industry for many years. We have developed an innovative methodology to ensure that once recruited, our candidates remain with the contact centre and make it a long term career.

“Some of the recruitment processes that need to be followed include selecting prospects with the right neutral telephone voices for dealing with international customers and competence in one or more languages. The international best practice model is a good guide to this requirement. The demographics of the country will largely determine where the best pool of talent will be. For example it will be easier to staff a contact centre environment in Johannesburg and Pretoria with people who speak African languages than in Cape Town.”

“However communication skills and a good grasp of language, especially English, which is the preferred medium in contact centres, are important attributes. Apart from voice and language skills, there are additional skill sets that need to be met in the vetting process. Computer literacy is also a major benefit for candidates, as customers want and now expect to engage with organisations seamlessly across multiple channels like email, chat, mobile, video and social media,” says Goaté.

Goaté adds that there is a perception that working in the contact centre industry can be tedious and does not offer long term career prospects. However IS has found a sustainable solution to retain staff, with the introduction of short and long term goals. Thorough screening and vetting, followed by a training programme are some of the ways to meet the requirements of this growing industry, where skills and experience have not kept pace with demand.

IS has a contact centre client in Cape Town who is a fine example of what the industry can offer. They have introduced a progressive and ground breaking transformation programme for African male graduates. It guarantees full time employment with secure excellent long term career prospects, at a very competitive starting salary and substantial increase after the completion of a 36 month shadowing and training programme.

The high attrition rate in the contact centre industry is of concern, so this requires a partnership with the clients. It focuses on a triangular relationship with the client, the candidate and themselves. It is an investment in a long term relationship, which will obviate job hopping and create a happy working environment. It is a win-win situation for both the client and the candidate.

As part of the process, IS provides a continuous survey of work progress and assists in resolving problems for the new starter. It is an ongoing monitoring process for the first 6 months and longer. This mediation goes a long way to keeping all parties content.

It is refreshing to see Contact Centres also shifting their mind sets, especially with the large unemployment numbers. This, from the conventional “industry experience” of 6 months to a year as a minimum criteria, towards considering an attitude and fit for purpose in a graduate, then training them up with the skills required.

“Contact Centres are one of the best industries to enter as they are forever growing, are dynamic and host a number of opportunities in various departments from Operations, HR and Training to Finance, Marketing, Risk and IT,” concludes Goaté.