Economic Development Spotlight: NCS International
Chances are when you selected your current site or sites for your customer service center, you conducted some type of wage analysis. Some sort of study was conducted by you or your representative to determine the appropriate wage levels for your operation in order to be competitive in the locations that you ultimately selected. You made a conscious decision to compensate your agents at a level in which you could attract and maintain talent. Right?
A few years later, conditions might have changed. Now there are more call centers, customer service operations and support service operations in the area, all vying for similar talent. What’s more, your attrition rates are higher that you would like and you are constantly learning about higher wages at other customer service operations in the area.
So what do you do to combat these factors? I suggest the following:
1. Research the wage data in your area starting with state wage information.
A great and free resource can be found at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics at https://www.bls.gov. Once there, look up the table titled “Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.”
Scroll down the table until you find the Occupational category 43-0000 and click on it. Then scroll to the category that most Customer Service Representatives jobs are classified, which is 43-4051. At this point, you will be able to see Mean, Median and Annual Wage data for your particular area. This will also provide national information for referencing. Figure 1 provides information on the mean wages of Customer Service Representatives nationally.
2. Call your local economic development organization (EDO) and arrange a meeting to talk about your situation.
As an employer, you have leverage and you would be expected to use that leverage for the benefit of your organization.
If you don’t know your economic development organization, a listing can be found at: http://ecodevdirectory.com/listings-category/north-america/united-states/
This will at least get you started. You can also contact your local chamber of commerce for information.
More than likely this step has seldom been used by call center managers probably because they don’t know that is an option.
At this point, the EDO can observe the jobs in action as well as other related jobs at your center. Once this meeting has been conducted, the EDO can conduct a wage analysis of similar operations in the area.
It is in the best interest of the EDO to compile and maintain this data on a consistent basis. This type of activity is part of the EDO’s Business Retention and Expansion program otherwise known as BRE.
This analysis would be conducted in conjunction with the local or regional Workforce Development Board. A Workforce Development Board (Board) is a group of community leaders appointed by local elected officials and charged with planning and oversight responsibilities for workforce programs and services in their area. As an example, and for illustration purposes, there are 28 such Boards in Texas, each assigned a specific area (see Figure 2). This would be true in your state, as well.
The majority of each Board is represented by members of the local business community. In all, Board membership includes individuals representing business and industry, economic development agencies, community-based organizations, education, organized labor, public assistance agencies and more.
This process will obviously take some time and the results would be available to all parties participating in the survey.
The final results of the analysis should contain averages or ranges for starting wages, mean wages and the high wages for customer service representatives or other job titles that you might specify. This will be invaluable information for your decisions. More importantly, this is a service that is provided at no cost to the employer.
Should your timeframe be more urgent, this process can be conducted using qualified independent third parties, however, there would be a cost associated with this effort.
You would now have the data needed to make the wage adjustments necessary to attract and maintain talent at your operation. Should you have questions or comments on this subject, I would be more than happy to discuss.
About NCS International
NCS International specializes in site selection for Customer Service Operations, Call Centers, Back Office Operations, Regional Headquarters and Data Centers.
NCS International provides strategic location planning, multi center alignment, incentive negotiations and workforce development programs.