Today, this series concludes with a look at a practical way to slow the cycle of attrition and improve overall ‘fit’ between employees and centers of employment. No matter which of the factors of competition, role equity, recruitment, workplace environment, job design or leadership are primarily responsible for attrition growth, there are effective, industry-proven approaches to ensure that healthy inputs (i.e. - people) move to deliver healthy outputs (i.e. - performance and culture).
One of the primary ways of addressing the impact of these factors begins with well-validated assessments.
Of course, general assessments are not a panacea. But when deployed appropriately with a ongoing review and underpinned by sufficient insight, they can deliver incredible results. For contact centers considering assessments in the fight against attrition, here are four key approach factors to keep in mind.
Learn How to Understand and Dramatically Reduce Attrition
When selection systems are built using well-validated assessments with proper supporting data, companies can more effectively match candidates to the right jobs. Pairing this with effective monitoring, calibration and feedback mechanisms will drive the improvement gains that centers need to maintain competitiveness and grow the quality and performance of employees. Ultimately, this takes the pressure of the top of the funnel activities and allows companies to investment in culture-enhancements and retention programs to build long term advantages.
What do you think? Leave a comment, and make sure you check out the rest of our series on Reducing Attrition!
Publish Date: February 6, 2018 5:00 AM
Previously, we discussed the financial and cultural impact unwanted attrition has on companies. Those organizations battling turnover find themselves delivering poorer customer experiences, reduced leadership quality and slower innovation.
But attrition itself is rarely the problem. A carouseling workforce is generally the result of six factors. This article introduces those contributing issues, bringing front and center opportunity areas for companies seeking to improve attrition metrics. The primary issues are: hiring competition, role equity, recruitment, workplace environment, job design, and leadership. Each of these are explored in further detail, below.
Learn How to Understand and Dramatically Reduce Attrition
As the onshoring trend of call and contact center hiring continues, competition for talent will remain a challenge. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that call center hiring is expected to grow 36% domestically between 2016 and 2026. As employer demand persists, contact centers will struggle to land candidates given their relative standing versus companies offering comparable wage roles. This trend of prospects looking at hospitality, fast food and retail roles is expected to continue. These jobs offer similar wages, but often additional product or service perks, flexible shifts and are assumed to be easier, task-oriented jobs. According to PayScale, the median hourly rate for a call center representative is $13.43 per hour. Nationally, the range is $10.01 to $17.65. While better compensation may attract longer term, career minded candidates, it remains economically out of reach for most centers. As well, perceptions on the nature of call center roles remain a hurdle. Outsides still don’t have favorable views on the roles, particularly when compared against retail and hospitality sector jobs.
Before accepting a job, candidates consider the expected difficulty of the job versus the income and flexibility they expect in return. In contact or call center roles, what people expect to experience in their job and the reality of their days, can vary significantly. Unfortunately, this sense of surprise breeds disillusionment as workers begin to believe that the work–outcome tradeoff unfairly favors the company. The relationally exhausting nature of center work also colors workers’ views of customers, wages, the environment and career track. Perceived inequity between role requirements and compensation rarely just works itself out. Companies need to support healthier thinking – and this is not only about raising wages. Workers derive satisfaction when they feel valued as a person and contributor. Believing that one’s ideas are being considered, or having something to take ownership of, reinforces a sense of meaning. Obvious paths of promotion also represent tangible payoff for over-taxed workers. These can help restore perceptions of equity and balance.
Attrition places a burden on the entire organization, but no group feels more pressure than the recruiting and HR teams. The never-ending need for headcount, shifts teams to make concessions around candidate quality and cultural fit. Rarely is there malicious intent, but compensation models and quotas with volume incentives end up promoting rapid, concessionary hiring. This creates the all-too-familiar ‘talent acquisition paradox’. This means that in an effort to right the headcount shortage, companies hire fast and poorly – unwittingly introducing an approach that keeps attrition high. Healthy cultures promote engagement, tenure and performance. But to reach this level of health, companies must hold the line when it comes to candidate quality. Of course, this may shrink the available talent pool, but it also creates a clearer target profile to pursue and becomes a competitive differentiator that attracts a certain type of talent.
To minimize redundancy and costs, centers often schedule as few agents as possible to cover expected call volume across a variety of shifts. Shift times vary, making some more desirable than others. This is why centers apply strict adherence and attendance policies to maintain coverage. To agents that don’t understand these dynamics, scheduling policies can seem rigid and even penal. While they may be reasonable, they are interpreted as a means of control. While companies cannot allow disruption, organizing shift swaps and planning is critical. Workers feel dignified by independence and the sense of self-direction. When allowance is made for flexibility, participation may improve.
Agents that succeed in call center jobs are special. One of the reasons is that few comparable roles have the level of day-to-day job complexity that agent jobs do. It is common to hear hiring managers express seemingly contradictory characteristics when discussing target profiles.
“This job requires the agent to pay close attention to details and be an outside-of-the-box thinker to respond to a variety of customer requests.”
This is a rare combination at any employment level, but is particularly incompatible within the available talent pool for call centers. Specific, attributable skills need to be focused on, instead of broad requests. As specific skill-sets are hired, leaders can design shifts, assign tasks and develop trainings so one agent isn’t expected to deliver on all needed fronts. Additionally, as will be discussed in forthcoming posts, assessments should be utilized to capture the skill diversity and personality fluidity that does exist.
In contact centers, poor first-line management intensifies agent challenges. Without strong leadership support, agents may give up when faced with even normal job difficulties, especially during their startup phase. In an effort to retain talent, companies will promote their top performing agents. This is an oversimplification and unwisely assumes that good agents make good supervisors. Front line leaders certainly need to possess hard skills to lead agent teams and handle escalations or troubleshooting, but they should be suited to support culture building too. This may include fostering teamwork, collaboration, connections and empathy. These are softer leadership skills, but remain critical for any call center leader that has a role in agent quality-of-life.
Reducing attrition begins with clarity on what is primarily driving it. By recognizing these six factors, companies are better equipped to plan and execute strategies to transform workplace cultures. Next in The Attrition Series, we will focus on practical ways to make breakthroughs in new hire retention and agent performance.
What do you think? Leave a comment, and make sure you check out the rest of our series on Reducing Attrition!
Publish Date: January 31, 2018 5:00 AM
PeopleMatter, a workforce solution provider, reports hourly-worker attrition levels of 49%. Their study concludes that the per person dollar cost of this turnover – even for low-wage, service oriented roles – is $4,969. Starting and restarting efforts to recruit and train new workers is costly. The negative effects of these processes are compounded as both the new employees and their managers or trainers are taken away from primary responsibilities.
A similar study from the US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide reports the average annual turnover rate for a Customer Service Representative as 29%, with voluntary quit rates representing 60% of this turnover. Sector breakdown paints an even more dramatic picture: from a high of 53% for third party TeleServices providers, to 21% in the Financial Services sector. All of these rates are significant and stand in stark contrast to the all-industry U.S. average of 17.8%.
Learn How to Understand and Dramatically Reduce Attrition
QATC, a knowledge and research sharing hub for call center professionals quantifies the financial bleed created by attrition. Their work with Deloitte cites even bleaker financial outcomes for call or contact centers, suggesting that it takes $12,000 to replace the average non-professional or frontline person. A management level employee may cost three times that.
The cycle of unwanted attrition and role replacement is inarguably costly – and for call centers, nothing erodes margins as efficiently and unnecessarily.
Given that attrition is as common and costly as research suggests, why highlight what is already long-known?
Because companies generally acknowledge the financial implications of attrition, but underestimate the significance. As well, they often fail to recognize that the financial component is just one variable in the impact calculation. So severe are the others that ignoring them may put business lines in peril.
Consider the organizational impact that instability and issues with continuity and service delivery created by the constant inflow of new hires has. Left unaddressed, these all but guarantee poorer customer experiences, high operating costs, lower quality, stunted leadership development and a disengaged workforce. The result for many centers: a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle of turnover, expense and culture decay.
The majority of the U.S. workforce (51%) is not engaged, according to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report. This group is marked by indifference toward their job. Herein lies the risk for employers, as these individuals can tilt the balance of attrition and resulting financial and organization health. This “show me” group is looking to be inspired and moves the cultural, productivity and service paradigm – good or bad – when engaged.
While attrition dims the potential of contact or call centers worldwide, it is helpful to understand that attrition is not the problem. Attrition is symptomatic.
For centers embroiled in years of this cycle, this reality is hard to fathom.
In Furstperson’s research, attrition is found to be a byproduct of other center and labor pool issues. While fixes are not easy, recognizing the driving forces is a critical first step down the path to solutions. Reducing attrition (and similar, non-attrition behaviors like absenteeism and tardiness) and actually improving factors that create healthy workplace, move the at-risk workers toward engagement and lower bottom-line impacts.
As Forbes writes, “[...] evaluating the statistical relationship between turnover and financial outcomes doesn’t require a PhD.” Most challenging is understanding the root causes of attrition and identifying doable reduction opportunities.
Over the next two weeks, we will be building on The Attrition Series and how companies can transform existing cultures of worker attrition.
These posts will move from highlighting the seriousness of attrition, to reviewing contributing factors and conclude with perspective on how to take make gains in retention and performance – while still meeting recruiting targets.
What do you think? Leave a comment, and make sure you check out the rest of our series on Reducing Attrition!
Publish Date: January 29, 2018 5:00 AM
FurstPerson's Dr. Brent Holland recently led an interactive session, Global contact centre applicant skills benchmarks, at the 2016 Customer Contact Expo in London. Below is a rundown of Dr. Holland's latest research findings.
Even more than the C-suite, the contact center is the beating heart of any large enterprise. However, finding the right talent isn’t always easy in the contact center space. While most industry insiders realize the role of a contact center agent is a complex one, identifying agents capable of handling the complexity and truly excelling in these types of roles presents a challenge to many companies.
But, improvement begins with knowledge.
Before organizations can improve the quality of hire among their contact center agents, it is critical they understand the strength of the contact center talent pools in their respective markets. In his research, Dr. Holland examined three common contact center skills:
This game-changing research provides contact center leadership with the information they need to drive ahead of the competition and increase revenue. The study focused on 1,144,102 English-speaking job applicants. The parameters were as follows:
The study measured contact center skills using a variety of assessments and work-sample simulations1. Note that the research summarized below has been standardized to permit direct comparisons across markets. Each of the tools used to measure the contact-center skills summarized below, except for the basic typing test, are described in table below:
Though our research shows that it benefits companies to consider not just typing speed, but overall keyboarding skills, most organizations require a minimum number of words-per-minute to qualify for certain jobs.
The chart below illustrates typing speeds across three key markets. While applicants in the USA excel in all four areas, Philippine job applicants demonstrate comparable skillsets across the board. In fact, the actual words-per-minute for applicants are 32 (USA), 29 (Philippines), and 19 (India), respectively.
Surprisingly, Indian applicants’ typing skills lag behind those of the Philippines, in spite of the fact that the rate of personal computer market penetration in both regions is 9% and 10% respectively, compared to 79% in the USA.
Additionally, while surmising that mobile technology might play a large part in this difference, the Philippines’ market has a higher mobile penetration rate than India.
In an expanding market, there continues to be a growing demand for proficiency in both written and spoken English language skills. When observing the relative strength of written English skills, the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Canada lead the pack by significant margins. On the other hand, El Salvador and Philippines’ applicants demonstrate below-average performance on:
However, candidates from both El Salvador and the Philippines outperform applicants from other large markets including Columbia, India, Mexico, and St. Kitts. Columbian, Indian and Mexican applicants score similarly on most dimensions.
When it comes to driving contact centers forward, few roles are more essential – and more difficult to hire for – than inbound sales/support roles. Every inbound call presents representatives with the opportunity to drive additional revenue by identifying additional needs, educating customers, inform them of new offers and potentially close a brand new sale. However, organizations need to proceed carefully when choosing whom to hire for these hybrid service-sales roles.
Representatives with the greatest likelihood of success excel in each of the following areas:
One implication is that the best inbound sales representatives tend to draw on a myriad of skills, enabling them to simultaneously perform a variety of different tasks including searching for account or promotional information while also engaging with the customer. Doing so creates a smooth and enjoyable experience for the caller, and an opportunity to drive additional sales for the representative.
Overall, we studied four major markets with sales-related skills’ benchmarking data.
The USA and United Kingdom achieved the highest overall sales scores with Filipino applicants demonstrating comparable skills and coming in a close third.
While the results showed a great deal of variability in terms of Data Entry Accuracy, each market scored comparably in terms of Multi-Tasking ability.
The relative weakness of Mexican applicants on Computer skills is important and points to a critical development need if the country’s contact-center industry wishes to remain competitive for inbound sales jobs.
As competition heats up among an increasingly globalized market, the markets your business chooses to recruit contact center applicants will play a much larger role in your ability (or inability) to drive business, customer satisfaction, and revenue.
While candidates in the USA demonstrate strength in skills across the board, other global markets demonstrate nearly identical proficiency in English Writing (UAE and Canada) and Inbound Sales (United Kingdom and Philippines). Though it's too early to draw final conclusions about which countries possess the strongest overall contact center typing, writing, and inbound sales skills, the above research provides a jumping-off point for organizations considering expansion by outlining the implications of which markets they choose to recruit candidates.
Get the complete rundown of Dr. Holland's research by downloading your free copy of his presentaiton below.
Publish Date: October 25, 2016 5:00 AM
Every so often, FurstPerson’s people get out.
Next week, FurstPerson's Dr. Brent Holland and Megan Nau are slated to share their most effective hiring insights at the Customer Contact Expo in London. One of the main themes of this year’s conference? Finding solutions that cover everything you need to drive a happy and efficient workplace.
FurstPerson’s Director of Enterprise Customer Solutions, Megan Nau will be leading an interactive session, Upgrading Your Talent with a Quality of Hire Scorecard. Below is a preview of her presentation for this year's event.
Considering the investment that companies are making in the hiring process, it seems absurd to fail to track how well their tools are working. However, a surprisingly small amount of companies actually do this well. To help busiensses track their progress, FurstPerson has developed a quality of hire scorecard. A scorecard card is essentially a standardized way to gauge progress – it gives us a chance to track how well a solution is performing.
Here’s how it works:
We're looking forward to attending the 2016 Customer Contact Expo. Stop by stand C372 for a demo and some free giveaways!
Want to learn more about how to improve your quality of hire? Click below for your free copy of Megan's presentation, or schedule a free consultation with one of our talent selection specialists.
Publish Date: September 21, 2016 5:00 AM
Every company strives for superior customer satisfaction, but only a few achieve such a goal on a consistent basis.
Admittedly, in a mega-competitive business market, it can be difficult to establish superior customer satisfaction when so many individual factors are at play. Different drivers within different environments influence satisfaction.
Your frontline agents are responsible for not only resolving customers' issues, but for leaving them with a good impression of your organization once the interaction is over.
According to Mark Miller, Senior Director at the Contact Center Practice for J.D. Power and Associates, best-in-class organizations consistently drive and improve customer satisfaction through their call centers by connecting customer loyalty to factors like speed of answer, how many times a customer is put on hold, and how many times a customer is transferred, among others.
During an interview with FurstPerson, Miller explained his research found the best performers are doing everything well and a few things really well.
In order to know how to improve customer satisfaction, one must consider the five major drivers of satisfaction with the contact center. According to Miller, these 5 drivers include:
If a company falls short on one of these key areas, for example, a call center employee does not have the required knowledge or fails to speak to customers in a courteous manner, the company’s satisfaction scores will suffer and it will ultimately affect customer loyalty.
The best call centers are continually focused on mastering the five major drivers outlined above, and they are making the appropriate investments in technology and people to ensure the customer experience is consistently a good one.
When it comes to customer satisfaction in relation to your call center, it is especially important to have the right people in the seats. Companies need to recruit wisely, train well, and keep their employees well informed in order to successfully delight the customer and establish a true emotional link. At the end of the day, companies who are able to build trust will have the most satisfied customers.
As Miller succinctly states, “If you want to build loyalty, you have to create trust at the front end.” Improving customer satisfaction is inextricably linked to hiring call center employees with high emotional IQ – especially since an increasing number of customers are turning to call centers for assistance with more difficult, more complex concerns.
We’ve talked before about the fact that call centers are receiving a greater number of calls critical to customer loyalty and advocacy. So then, how do you increase customer satisfaction?
It starts with hiring the right people.
Though goals are certainly what drive a business forward, ensuring your customers are hanging up the phone satisfied has less to do with average handle time or number of tickets closed, and more to do with employee satisfaction and culture fit experienced by the agent on the other end of the line.
If the agent doesn't fit the job or the organizational culture, he or she will not perform well, which puts valuable customer relationships at risk. As such, it is more important than ever for companies to spend the extra time, effort, energy, and investment in ensuring they hire the right people.
Miller also pointed out that one way to mitigate high attrition is to match your environment with the right person because, “high levels of employee satisfaction…will lead to lower attrition levels, and once you have people who have been on the phone a while, your [agents are more able to] deal with the customer’s needs not only on a factual basis, but also on an emotional basis.”
Improving customer satisfaction is largely dependent on hiring those who can connect with customers on an emotional level in order to make them feel valued and understood.
It is very difficult to interface with a customer in a real and genuine manner unless a call center agent has the right talent and skill set for a particular business environment. A call center assessment is a reliable way to measure virtually any performance-driven metric, including how well your new hire will fit into your specific environment, and how likely he or she is to engage with the tasks associated with the job.
Additionally, a call center simulation is a great way to find employees who have the concrete skills as well as the emotional IQ necessary to handle difficult situations commonplace in your company's environment.
A critical ingredient to call center success includes knowing how to continuously improve customer satisfaction. Employees who have the ability to establish a connection with customers over the phone by truly listening and responding to their needs will build an invaluable level of trust. And that, in the end, is the ultimate “it factor” for any company interested in setting themselves apart from the competition.
FurstPerson will work with you to identify the critical skills and abilities required for each job or job family, and implement an assessment battery that focuses on critical areas, such as workplace communication, critical thinking, decision-making, reasoning, and data entry accuracy, among others. Download your free copy of the whitepaper below to learn more, or schedule a free consultation with one of our talent selection specialists.
Publish Date: August 31, 2016 5:00 AM
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Many simpler types of calls that were once fielded by live agents are now being handled through different channels. A call to find out when a bill is due or what a balance is will often be deflected to a self-service medium, meaning the issues that do reach live agents tend to be more complex and emotionally charged.
The best contact centers are recognizing this, and they are making some modifications to how they operate to ensure that the experience that folks get when they call on the phone is not only satisfying from a pure data perspective, but that they get the right information quickly, and are able to form a positive relationship with the representative with whom they are interacting.
Call center employees are under a tremendous amount of pressure to provide answers and resolve complaints. Add to the mix a customer that has experienced a long wait time or being transferred among several departments, and it’s easy to see how a conflict could erupt.
With complex issues and emotionally-charged calls becoming the norm for agents, how can your organization find, hire, and keep talent capable of fielding these calls while forming and maintaining relationships with your customers, and promoting customer loyalty?
According to Mark Miller, Senior Director at the Contact Center Practice for J.D. Power and Associates, today’s call center representatives not only need to have a high emotional IQ, they also need the ability to rapidly problem-solve and essentially diffuse ticking time-bombs.
If you don’t have a solid hiring process in place that includes a call center skills assessment, you are probably struggling with finding the right talent. More than a simple multiple choice test, human resources professionals are now relying on evidence-based call center simulation tests that place candidates into real-life scenarios that help evaluators to gauge their likely reactions on the job, to difficult customer service issues and questions.
Maximizing the customer experience is the end-goal of any well-crafted customer service skills assessment tool, and mounting evidence shows the implementation of call center simulations is saving organizations valuable capital and time by using data-driven tools that allow them to avoid poor hiring decisions in the first place.
The most effective call center simulations are those that are customized to reflect the types of customers agents will be interacting with, as well as the types of inquiries they’ll be receiving. After all, real job success in a call center requires a mix of skills, customer service knowledge, and job motivation. The customer service skills assessment that will work best for your company will depend on a variety of factors. Just like every employee is different, so is every company, and the right assessment will cater to the unique needs of your individual organization.
Reaching out to your call center may be the only interaction that customers have with a representative of your company. And with a greater number of emotionally-charged customers on the other end of the line, it’s imperative to take a close look at how successful your call center is. What changes can you implement to reduce the stress placed on your representatives and create a team that thrives in your environment? Adding a customer service skills assessment to the hiring mix may be just what you need to get the right infusion of talent into your call center.
Learn more about how call center simulations can help you find, hire, and keep agents capable of handling difficult calls and forming lasting, lucrative relationships with customers by downloading your free copy of the whitepaper below.
Publish Date: August 29, 2016 5:00 AM
Nearly every business owner and hiring manager is guilty of making choices that negatively impact their quality of hire.
We've discussed it before - some 95 percent of the employers have admitted to recently making a bad hiring choice. But these poor decisions don't just cause monetary damage. Bad hires also can hinder productivity, deteriorate employee morale and adversely affect customer relations.
With this much at stake, it is easy to see why so many companies are concerned that their hiring process is suffering. If your organization is facing talent acquisition challenges, the first step is to identify exactly what's going wrong.
Below is a look at five reasons your hiring efforts are falling short.
The National Business Research Institute found that 43 percent of companies surveyed believe their poor hiring decisions were cause by the need to fill the job quickly. By focusing too much on putting bodies in seats and not enough on finding candidates who had the right set of core competencies, they paid the price – a very high price. Studies show that the cost of a bad hire, even for a low paying position, can average around $25,000.
Organizations fare far better by taking the time to focus on finding candidates who fit the nuances of the role. Though most high-volume hiring environments don't afford recruiting and HR long periods of time to find candidates, it is possible to strike a balance between recruiting speed and quality of hire.
When the goals of recruiting are different from the goals of the business, the process becomes a losing situation for everyone, including the candidate.However, creating organizational alignment allows the teams to work together to create a cohesive hiring process. Each department brings value to the table. Supervisors know the specific skills needed for the job, HR has the tools for identifying those skills and upper management develops the company culture.
Studies show that 89 percent of employers attribute bad hire selection to a poor culture "fit." Employees who don't have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job - or who don't share your company's core values - generally perform at a lower level, have higher absenteeism and negatively affect employee morale. Therefore, your company's hiring strategies must align with your company culture to ensure you attract the right type of candidate. This will improve job satisfaction, performance, employee loyalty and attrition rates.
While 39 percent of employers believe QoH metrics are extremely important, 33 percent admit to not being confident about how to measure quality of hire. Many companies evaluate the QoH using factors, such as performance evaluations, hiring satisfaction and retention rates. Not only do two of these three factors offer subjective data, but retention rates should only be measures if you also evaluate the causes behind the numbers.
While there is no magic formula that will automatically determine that true quality of your new hires, your company must create a strategy to measure success consistently.
A major obstacle preventing companies from hiring top talent is a lack of evolution within their hiring process itself. Job market trends, economic factors, and your organization as a whole are anything but static, and change drastically over time. What may have worked years ago, or even last quarter for that matter, will need tweaking.
In addition, new technology, improved assessment testing and applicant tracking software that may not have been feasible for your company years ago, but now they may provide the affordable solutions your business needs. When your organization and an assessment vendor work in congruence with your company’s goals as well as the shifts in the economy and employment market, however, you are going to see dramatic business results.
Learn more about how to improve your quality of hire by downloading your free copy of the eBook below, or by speaking with one of our talent selection specialists today.
Publish Date: August 26, 2016 5:00 AM
You know how important it is to deliver quality customer service if you want your business to succeed, but do your employees? Finding someone that has that special mix of skills that will make them a customer service superstar is a daunting task, but having the right set of customer service interview questions in your hiring arsenal will help you hit your targets.
Hiring the wrong employees leads to poor customer service and high turnover, both of which are devastating to your bottom line. And when it comes to interview questions, customer support roles should not be overlooked.
In addition to tools like job simulations, pre-hire assessments, and data-driven decision making, using specific questions to learn as much as you can about your candidates during the interview allows you to determine whether or not they’ll be good brand ambassadors.
Here are five customer service interview questions that can help you find high-quality frontline talent.
This question drives home the point right away. When you ask a candidate to discuss a bad customer service experience, you gain valuable insight on their priorities. You can learn quite a bit about how a candidate will handle a situation by listening to the things that he or she considers to be poor customer service.
If for example, a candidate describes an experience when a retail employee was short with them and seemed irritated by their questions, you know that they have the ability to sense agitation and assess a person’s mood. These are both advantageous core competencies to have when dealing with customers.
There’s no shortage of customer-service-gone-wrong in today’s world, and one of the most important things you can learn about a candidate is what they’ve gleaned from these experiences.
When a candidate can step back and think about a customer interaction and gain insight from it, they have the ability to provide positive experiences when they are on the other side of the interaction.
Customer service professions must deal with different customers with different personalities that are all having the similar issues on a regular basis. It can be difficult to hear the same complaints over and over, but it’s a reality of the job.
This is one of those customer support interview questions that can help you to understand if your candidate has the ability to be empathetic.
Time-to-resolution is a key factor in bad customer service experiences. By asking this question, you can determine how important it is to an individual that customer concerns are resolved quickly and efficiently.
Of course, it will be difficult for your candidate to determine just how much time it will take over the course of a certain number of interactions to solve an issue, but the ideal candidate will want to resolve an issue as quickly as possible.
Problem-solving, active listening and communication skills are all key to great customer support, but these attributes mean nothing if your candidate cannot keep the customer engaged.
In many cases, the call center experience will be the only direct contact that your customers have with your brand, so it’s important that you use customer service interview questions that evaluate support skills.
When you combine an effective interview with a solid, evidence-based hiring process, you’ll bring on more employees that share your organization’s priorities and positively represent the image of your brand.
Learn more by downloading your free copy of 5 Talent Acquisition Commandments for Every Productive Mass Hiring Team, or speak with one of our talent selection specialists today.
Publish Date: August 17, 2016 5:00 AM
The hiring process in many frontline environments can be likened to a game of roulette. You take a gamble, cross your fingers, and hope the odds of making the right hire are in your favor. However, if things don’t work out the way you planned, a bad hire can be a costly, time-consuming mistake for your business.
Research shows the typical customer service team in the United States spends $4,000 on a new hire, and upwards of $4,800 on training. After all is said and done, however, 70% of customer service workers will still quit their jobs within a year’s time, and additional research shows that some contact centers experience yearly attrition rates in excess of 100%.
If you've made a bad hire or two within the last year, you're certainly not alone.
Fortunately, businesses can prevent the costs associated with poor hiring decisions by recognizing the challenges at different steps of the talent acquisition process and implementing a pre-hire assessment solution that addresses each.
Below are six common mistakes that can lead to a bad hire, and how to avoid them.
If different people within a company have different perspectives on what makes someone successful in a particular role, it leads to inconsistency, inaccuracy, and ultimately attrition. Creating and utilizing a company-specific job analysis can help organizations align their hiring and operating goals.
A job analysis provides a wealth of important information, including:
The job analysis should define the characteristics that drive job success. With an official job analysis for each position, hiring managers will have a better idea of what to test for.
Additionally, if your organization utilizes an employee referral program, details of the job analysis allow employees to gain a better understanding of what to look for in the candidates they refer.
An unstructured interview is among the least accurate types of talent assessment tools and almost always yields inconsistent results. To make the most of the interview process, a business should rely on structured behavioral interviews in coordination with pre-hire assessments.
In fact, research conducted by Schmidt and Hunter has demonstrated that the validity of structured interviews is significantly higher than unstructured interviews.
Where appropriate, FurstPerson recommends using structured behavioral interviews as part of the talent assessment solution. Asking each candidate the same questions – and taking the time to train your interviewers – ensures consistency and gives interviewers a clear frame of reference for comparing potential candidates.
Historically, many organizations have leaned heavily on resumes, references, interviews and “gut instinct” to fill open positions. However, without a data-driven talent assessment strategy, you will eliminate good fit candidates and retain applicants that prove to be a poor fit.
In order to avoid retaining the wrong candidates, organizations can rely on pre-hire assessments. While “gut instinct” has a significantly lower success rate than assessments, and has even been shown to interfere with finding the right talent, hiring assessment tools scientifically identify the behaviors required for a new hire to succeed in the targeted job.
Job descriptions typically note the activities and tactical goals of a given position. But it is equally important to provide information regarding the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics an employee will need to be successful in the role.
As noted before, a job analysis can clearly define the abilities and behaviors that drive job success. As FurstPerson’s founder and CEO Jeff Furst wrote in a previous blog, “By defining the job, the hiring organization lays the foundation for the recruiting and hiring process because the job criteria are linked to organizational success.” Clearly defined positions give an organization the greatest chance of attracting the best possible candidates.
Driving consistently high performance in an organization requires hiring employees who have the skills, abilities, and motivations to contribute value to your business.
While a candidate may meet the minimum requirements of the job, he or she may not necessarily be a strong culture fit. The hiring team must consider attitudes and behavioral tendencies and compare applicant profiles against the job analysis profile to determine compatibility.
Building a job profile, refining it, and testing for appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) will help prevent hiring chronic underperformers. Evaluating factors crucial to the success of an organization allows the hiring team to consider a full scope of individual qualities, and may ultimately save your company thousands of dollars in training and retraining.
You’ve implemented a talent acquisition strategy, trained your interviewers, and tailored your talent assessment process to predict the best candidates for the position. Now you can sit back and relax, right?
Once the hiring process has culminated in an exciting new hire, managers must work hard to properly onboard the new hire and embed the individual into the company culture as quickly as possible. Mangers should customize the new employee’s socialization and learning based on the information gathered thus far.
To combat ineffective onboarding, a pre-employment assessment test such as a multimedia job simulation is a great way to find candidates with the right behavioral profile, skills, knowledge, and abilities. Additionally, hiring strong leaders who can give applicants enough time to receive proper training will help new hires seamlessly adjust to their role. A longer transition time between training and independent job performance ensures employees have the support, direction, and guidance they need to succeed.
Don’t get caught off-guard by mistakes in your hiring process. Learn how to plan, assess, interview and measure the success of your talent acquisition strategy by downloading your free copy of 5 Talent Acquisition Commandments for Every Productive Mass Hiring Team.
Publish Date: August 15, 2016 5:00 AM
A top-notch contact center supervisor may be the most important part of delivering an outstanding customer service experience and promoting a high employee retention culture.
But between managing the company’s expectations, leading a team, driving results, and ensuring customer satisfaction, supervisors have a lot to juggle. Additionally, contact center supervisors often face an uphill battle in motivating agents and promoting a culture of retention. In fact, according to one Gallup study, at least 75% of voluntary turnover can be traced to managerial influence.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all set of criteria for contact center leaders to ensure employee retention and quality of service, FurstPerson research has shown that the longer the tenure of a manager, the lower the turnover rate of his or her team.
So how do you find a supervisor with the skills necessary to do the job, and the personality strengths to handle the challenges of contact center culture for an extended period of time without getting burnt out?
Start by identifying critical qualities and characteristics necessary for success in your specific organization before placing an individual in the role and making sure these characteristics are put to good use. As a useful guide, FurstPerson has identified five essential competencies to look for when hiring supervisors for your contact center.
Critical thinking requires an objective approach to assessing situations and taking action. Critical thinkers are able to make important decisions from a non-emotional standpoint, and possess the emotional intelligence necessary to deal effectively with angry customers, leadership, and their subordinates.
Laci Loew of Brandon Hall Group says that critical thinking is the single most important skill for leaders and managers in all organizations, because the pace of change in today’s business climate is quick, and global expansion is on the rise. Therefore, the need for this skill, especially among supervisors working in difficult, stressful, high-volume conditions allows leaders to respond quickly and strategically to sudden change and new challenges.
Instead of dithering or delegating responsibility to others, good leaders take initative and act decisively, quickly arriving at their decisions and effectively communicating their goals to others, says Larina Kase, in Graziadio Business Review.
“Great leaders also know when to move quickly and proceed with the available information, versus when to take more time and gather additional information,” Kase writes. “While a large amount of data may be desirable in a perfect world, the data gathering process can utilize too much time, and the vast amount of data can also be paralyzing and take attention away from the big picture or key data points.”
Good contact center supervisors need to know when to proceed, and when to weigh evidence with intuition.
At their core, great leaders are great problem-solvers, taking measures to be proactive and resolve conflicts before they arise.
Entrepreneur and Glenn Llopis writes in Forbes that problem-solving is an immensely important characteristic in a good leader, and poses that skilled leaders “have the patience to step back and see the problem at-hand through broadened observation; circular vision. They see around, beneath and beyond the problem itself. They see well-beyond the obvious. The most effective leaders approach problems through a lens of opportunity."
In an environment dominated by problems from customers, subordinates, and senior leadership, possessing the ability to assess and solve problems is a crucial characteristic.
Closely related to problem-solving and decision-making, reasoning requires going beyond the information that’s given to draw conclusions. Contact center work requires dealing with a wide variety of problems that require both verbal and numerical reasoning – i.e., interpreting numerical and interpersonal data and information provided by both technology as well as employees, customers, and leadership. Significantly, research published in the Human Relations journal shows the reasoning level of a leader is clearly linked to group performance.
FurstPerson’s job analysis research has not only shown that multi-tasking is important, but that it generates a variety of business results. Evaluating multi-tasking ability in both agents and supervisors can help increase early stage retention and improve overall new hire job performance.
Since contact center supervisors are responsible for dealing with customer escalations, answering agent questions, using technology to monitor and track customer interactions, and ensuring service standards are met with satisfying customer resolutions, being able to accomplish all of this effectively requires a high level of multi-tasking aptitude.
Setting contact center agents up for success depends, in large part, on their managers. Talent assessments that identify the core skills of a supervisor make it easier for organizations to find individuals capable of handling both the technical and interpersonal aspects of the role. Although every organization needs a solution that is tailored to its own culture and operating goals, these five characteristics form the basis of any contact center supervisor talent assessment solution.
To learn more about contact center talent assessment tools, download the free case study below, or schedule a free consultation with one of our talent selection specialists.
Publish Date: August 12, 2016 5:00 AM
As many top call centers have already discovered, pre-hire job simulations are an incredibly effective way to find the people who embody the work culture you want and the superior service and support your customers demand.
Multimedia job simulations allow you to conduct a holistic candidate evaluation, gaining insight not only into your candidate’s skills and abilities, but into whether or not he or she will be motivated on the job and remain in the position for the long term. That's the talent acquisition equivalent of having your cake and eating it too.
Here are 5 reasons pre-hire call center simulations are a must for hiring frontline representatives:
The true value of multimedia job simulations provides additional candidate gifts well beyond the scope of your specific job requisition. From providing realistic job previews to developing execution capability, customized call center simulations have a multitude of advantages and applications. In fact, some of our clients have experienced as much as a 22% increase in call quality after implementation, leading to benefits like 30% higher revenue per call and 39% lower 0 - 90 day attrition.
Download your free copy of the whitepaper below and discover the benefits of using multimedia job simulations as part of a comprehensive pre-hiring process, or schedule a free consultation with one of our talent selection specialists.
Publish Date: August 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Today's recruiters know high-volume hiring isn't an easy task.
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the talent selection industry is not just ready, but ripe for talent assessment tools.
However, incorporating data-driven tools like pre-hire assessments into the talent selection process doesn't mean nudging recruiters out of relevancy. Rather, it gives recruiters the power to make decisions more quickly and accurately without unintentionally indulging human bias.
Researchers Mitchell Hoffman, Danielle Li, and Lisa Kahn analyzed the success of recruiting manager discretion versus predictive talent assessment tests, as measured by job tenure. The results, reported in Discretion in Hiring, showed that between pre-hire assessment testing displayed the stronger correlation.
Companies that relied solely on the assessment test results saw a 15% increase in the tenure of their hires. In fact, this number was reduced by 5% when hiring managers were given the option to make exceptions and hire some candidates that did not score high on the pre-hire tests.
This example supports the copious evidence that talent assessment software allows recruiters and organizations to select job candidates with a much higher degree of predictive accuracy than other hiring tools.
Recruiters are responsible for attracting, screening, and identifying top talent. However, they are also human, and the amount of data recruiters deal with on a daily basis is overwhelming. Even seasoned professionals have a finite capacity for clearheaded decision-making.
In high-volume hiring environments, recruiters contend with a number of obstacles that challenge their ability to identify top talent consistently, including:
Employee assessment tests aren’t new – they’ve actually been around for quite a while. But the combination recent technological advances and better scientific understanding of human development and personality have enhanced both the precision and pervasiveness of these tools. Additionally, assessment tests can break down many of the barriers that have been preventing recruiters from identifying top talent frequently and accurately:
Historically, many companies have relied on recruiters to handle the entire talent selection process. However, if you're hoping to snatch and retain quality hires, you need data-driven tools to gauge whether or not candidates can do what’s required to thrive in a specific job role.
Some recruiters might argue that an employee's performance is more contingent upon the coaching and direction they're given by their superiors once they're hired.
While coaching certainly has an impact, using pre-hire tools to assess applicants beforehand, and then reporting post-hire performance information to recruiters, allows these teams to spot pre-hire behaviors that can be used to predict on-the-job performance.
By incorporating information provided by data-driven tools into the recruiting process, candidates' skills, knowledge, abilities and behaviors can be more clearly linked to performance. And in a business climate – and a culture – increasingly dominated by data-based decision-making, equipping recruiters with the information provided by talent assessments allows these teams to procure a larger number of high-quality hires over time, which can increase the recruiting team's impact on an organization as well as the satisfaction of internal stakeholders with recruitment efforts.
Enlightened recruiters are effective recruiters. Learn how talent assessment software can help create a more efficient, effective talent selection process by downloading your copy of the eBook below, or schedule a free consultation with one of our talent selection specialists.
Publish Date: August 1, 2016 5:00 AM
Implementing a new pre-hire assessment procedure is not always an easy sell.
You may encounter candidates who wow a hiring manager but fail an assessment (or who interview poorly after passing an assessment), causing your organization’s leadership to assume gut instinct is just as good an indicator of success. You know the data shows that assessments are more predictive than intuition – but how do you overcome the misconceptions?
Resistance from leadership or other stakeholders usually stems from a lack of clarity regarding the purpose and expected outcomes of hiring assessments. When it comes to these types of tools, you are likely to encounter some pervasive myths, including:
While assessments are effective, they are just one of several data-driven tools that should be used when making a hiring decision. But how do you communicate to your stakeholders that they are a necessary and critical component of the hiring process? One way is by effectively explaining the expected outcomes of the new talent acquisition software.
Assessments consistently prove to be extremely beneficial for an organization, but no single talent assessment test can fix every problem. It is helpful to provide your stakeholders with relevant details about what pre-employment testing software can and cannot do – and why your business needs a complete and holistic assessment solution.
Here are some points you can clarify when you’re looking for buy-in from leadership and other stakeholders:
Dealing with change in the workplace is difficult, and it’s not unusual to experience some push-back when new additions to the hiring process are made. As with any organizational challenge, developing a communication plan can help leaders avoid complications and get the most from their pre-employment testing software.
With help from trusted partners like the talent experts at FurstPerson, you can implement a pre-hire assessment process that helps your organization thrive. Download your free copy of the whitepaper below to discover what questions you should be asking your vendors, or schedule a free consultation with one of our talent selection specialists.
Publish Date: July 27, 2016 5:00 AM
Attracting and recruiting top talent in today's competitive job market is a challenge for every organization. But for companies hiring for high-volume positions such as call centers, talent selection is even more challenging. Implementing pre-hire assessments and using the data they provide helps identify top performers. However, it is crucial for companies to establish a strategic talent selection process to optimize the value of these assessments and to ensure they result in measurable business outcomes.
FurstPerson understands the demands many call centers face when it comes to quality talent selection and hiring top performers. We recently worked with a Fortune 500 insurance company to create a tailored talent assessment solution for its customer call center. The company had several primary concerns, including high attrition rates and a low Net Promoter Score. Our goal was to improve job performance and quality of hire by implementing a targeted pre-hire assessment based on job profile analysis.
Through this process, we were able to improve this company's 0-90 involuntary attrition rate by 49% and voluntary attrition rates by 16%. Additionally, the company saw significant improvements in adherence, first call response rates, quality, average handle time, and Net Promoter Score.
While every call center is different and requires unique job-specific analysis, FurstPerson used the following method to help our client choose the right talent assessment tools to develop a winning talent selection strategy.
The first step in creating a talent selection strategy is to define each job profile clearly. When working with the insurance company, FurstPerson conducted a series of surveys with top-performing employees in two specific roles: customer service and claims. The employees surveyed understood the demands of the job and the skills necessary to be successful at this company. We discovered that while the qualities necessary for customer service and claims roles were similar, there were key differences between the two. The job analysis showed the following skills, abilities, and motivations that were measured for each position:
After identifying the necessary skills, abilities, and knowledge required for each role, FurstPerson worked with HR and operational leadership within the company to determine the business impact that could be achieved with the right pre-hire assessment tools. Together, we identified three test categories that allowed us to translate the contact center jobs into measurable areas of opportunity:
The last step of the process was to review and revise each hiring profile. Once the hiring profiles for each job were developed and mapped back to performance improvement, FurstPerson implemented version 1.0, which showed remarkable initial improvements in several areas, including attrition, first-call resoltuion (FCR), average handle time (AHT), and employee satisfaction and engagement via employee Net Promotor Score (ENPS). Additionally, we saw iterative improvements from version 1.0 to version 2.0 after a follow-up business review that featured more targeted assessments based on additional analyses.
The results of both assessments, as well as projected improvements, can be seen in the chart below:
No two companies are the same, which is why we partner with each of our clients to create customized pre-hire and post-hire assessment test solutions. No matter what role you’re hiring for, our consultants always work directly with you to assist with the creation and implementation of a winning strategic talent assessment process. Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more about how we help our clients find, hire, and keep high-quality candidates.
Publish Date: July 25, 2016 5:00 AM