Article : Helping Contact Centres Become Hiring Machines
Of all the challenges that can haunt a contact centre, high attrition has got to be the worst. You spend all that time and money recruiting and then training someone, only to have them walk out the door before they’ve even become productive.
Typical attrition rates for contact centres are between 10% and 30% annually, and it's not uncommon to find it as high as 100% attrition – employees lasting not even a year in the job.
According to the National Association of Call Centres, the average cost of attrition – including recruiting and training – is between $4,000 and $5,000 for each new hire, so reducing employee churn should be a top priority for any contact centre.
In our most recent case study, a call centre with 74 agents and turnover of 50% within the first three months reduced attrition rate to 17% through a better hiring process. Assuming the average cost of recruitment and training to be $5,000 per hire, this works out to savings of $123,000 every three months, or nearly $500,000 annually (that's not chump change). This figure doesn't even include the indirect benefits of having more engaged and productive employees.
In our work with many contact centres over the years we've identified seven hiring best practicesthat have been proven to reduce attrition, save money, and increase both productivity and employee engagement.
These are the things that the best of the best are doing to attract and select the right people.
1. Build an Ideal Candidate Profile
"Know thyself", Socrates often advised, and it is with this introspective view that your hiring process should begin. Ask yourself: what kind of organization do you have? What kind of culture? What do you value more – flexibility and customer service or predictability and process? It is also a good idea to look at your current top performers to figure out what's really required for success at your company. List the key traits of these employees and how these traits drive their behaviour. How do they respond to stress and pressure? What is their attitude towards routine and procedures? What is their level of pace and detail orientation? Do they solve problems independently or constantly look for help? The more questions you ask, the more detailed a portrait of your ideal candidate will emerge. To get started,check out this profileof what we’ve most often makes a great Customer Service Representative.
2. Create a Compelling Job Ad
Make no mistake about it: your job ad is also an advertisement for your organization. There's a war for talent going on. Why should a great candidate apply to your job and not a competitor’s?
Every great job ad must do two things extremely well:
- Help candidates assess whether the job and organization are right for them
- Persuade the ideal candidates to apply
- With this in mind, the job ad should never be written from the perspective of "what can you do for me" (like most are). Instead, the ad should focus on "what can we do together". The best candidates need to see that you value their presence and think of them as partners, not pawns.
- Reach as Many Qualified Candidates as Possible
- There are more than 40,000 job board sites in operation today, and the number is increasing steadily as niche job board creation and hosting tools are making it possible for just about anyone to build one.
- To get the maximum number of responses from the most qualified candidates, it is critical that you advertise on the right job boards. A good rule of the thumb is to post on at least one site from each of the three categories; Big Boards, Niche Boards & Free Boards. We highly recommend testing multiple sites while tracking the volume and quality of applicants from each one separately.
- Add a Psychometric Assessment for Initial Screening
- Being a great contact centre worker is usually more about personality and soft skills than it is about technical chops. You could have years of phone experience, type 80 words per minute, and know the inside of Microsoft Office better than Bill Gates, but if you don't actually love to solve customer problems you won’t be successful.
- This is the reason why the best contact centres have moved away from using the resume or qualifications assessment as sole element of the initial screen, and have added a psychometric test to measure the person-job fit.
- In contact centres, psychometric tests have been proven to be a better predictor of performance than other screening or assessment practices. They should be given to all applicants, and not just the ones who get past your interviews. This means you'll get the right personality types into your hiring funnel, and not just the right skill types. You’ll also find diamonds-in-the-rough that don’t have the ideal resume but are perfectly cut out to excel in the job.
- Use Virtual Interviews to Evaluate More Candidates
- Sometimes also called a ‘time-shifted interview’ (which sounds even more futuristic), a recruiter conducts a virtual interview by creating a set of pre-recorded questions which the candidates have to answer on their own time via a video session or audio call. Candidates that show promise in the virtual interview can then be called for an actual face-to-face interview.
- Train on Structured Behavioural Interviewing
- Let's face it. Just like most people think they are great drivers, most managers think they are great interviewers. Rather than a finely tuned process, interviewing can be more like a game of Russian Roulette. Hiring managers like to lead unstructured interviews and then trust their gut, taking risks on candidates who just "feel" right.
- The best way to battle the "gut call" syndrome is to get all hiring managers trained in structured behavioural interviewing - the most popular and credible type of interviewing, which has beenproven to be nine times as effectiveas traditional interviews in predicting success.
- Automate Reference Checking
- The final step in the recruitment puzzle is to verify the candidate’s references – a task that is crucial but time consuming, and at times, quite misleading. Fortunately there are new, automated reference checking services on the scene.
- In our experience, improving the hiring process is a proven way for contact centres to reduce attrition rates and attract better employees who are invested in the long term success of the organization. While the direct benefits coming from reduced attrition can be easily calculated, there are other indirect benefits as well: increased productivity, happier customers, decreased absenteeism, and a better, stronger company culture.
- No modern contact centre can afford to use old-school recruiting tactics. With so many recruiting innovations available, organizations need to apply new strategies or they’ll find themselves losing the war for talent.
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About Sharon Steward:
Sharon Steward specializes in Contact Centre recruiting.
About 500 Staffing:
At The 500 we understand people. We celebrate the differences in us all, and the unique advantages each of us bring to the work force. Providing services in Permanent, Temporary and Contract placements, we’re passionate about what we do. We believe it can change the world… one employee, one employer, one company, one connection at a time.
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013