It’s no secret that starting with good people makes a huge difference. Finding the best contact center staff for the job can be a big challenge. Mistakes here can really set back an operation. Defining the right skill sets to recruit will vary based on the needs of a center.
In a contractor owned and operated center, there are often multiple clients being serviced within the one location. The function of the center is to handle some volume of calls or other communication, but for different companies. Seating is often centralized in an open workspace having individual work stations, or cubicles, for each agent. Because a call center's primary product is the service the agents deliver, the most important staff are the agents themselves.
The demands of the job require specific communication and aptitude skills, along with the ability to speak with a wide variety of customers and issues. In some centers, the agent may be expected to handle customers from multiple clients. Being accurate, trainable, adaptable and patient are all key requirements. Selection, staffing and hiring must be done carefully.
There is an enormous demand for call center service, but not everyone is suited to do the work. What might seem easy at first can be found by some to be boring, confusing or too far outside their zone of comfort. Poor selection is one reason the industry has a high rate of turnover. Some centers are known to have more than 50% turnover. Such turnover and lack of permanence can put tremendous strain on the system and the people trying to manage the situation.
Some call centers have turned to staffing agencies to do the hiring for them instead of relying on an internal human resource department. But since these people are going to work under the call center manager, hiring is still his primary responsibility. It is therefore imperative that a manager participate in the hiring process and make sure the agency or HR team is held accountable for the quality of the applicants.
Here are some basic guidelines if you are involved with hiring the best staff for your contact center:
- Clearly outline the basic skills required for the job.
- Work with the client to identify any additional skills needed for their specific requirements.
- Prepare a selection process that will validate the ability of the candidate to meet these skills or demonstrate an ability to learn them. Abilities like accuracy, empathy and ethical decision making can be uncovered.
- Interview carefully and evaluate the overall personality.
- Make sure managers and supervisors are involved in the selection process. Consider using key team members to validate a candidate.
- Honestly state expectations for the applicant. Let them observe the process to understand what they are getting into.
- Role play with the applicant.
- Finally, dig into answers to uncover real reasons, stories and motivations. Being mutually honest will save all parties time and aggravation later.
Don’t forget the exit interview. Learn all you can to help create an environment where agents want to come each day and uncover new things that may help you discover the type of person you don’t want in your center.