North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Step 4 Initial Agent Sourcing – Assessments


You know the “bad fit” agents; they display less then desirable attitudes and work ethic. These agents spread negativity around the contact center and call in sick until sick time is used up. Some agents are even terminated due to too many missed days.

What went wrong?
The agents interviewed well. They had contact center experience, were well spoken, and even dressed professionally for the interview. What went wrong?

It might be hasty hiring; contact centers do it all the time. Top management has a goal to open the new site by the first of the month, which is only two weeks away. That means you’ll need to hire 200 agents in 2 weeks. So, the “spaghetti is thrown against the wall” as you quickly fill seats with bodies and everyone hopes for the best, knowing that many will be eliminated. The expectation that many will be eliminated is flawed thinking. This way of thinking will end up costing your contact center thousands of dollars and this is not OK. The spaghetti strategy fails every time.

Identifying the right contact center representatives is one of the single most significant drivers of contact center performance. This doesn’t have to be painful.

Using agent pre-employment assessments can eliminate the “wrong fit/bad fit” scenario. Companies spend hundreds of dollars on assessments when they are hiring managers to insure they have the “right” guy or gal managing things. Why aren’t they doing the same when they are hiring agents? The strategy of “throwing spaghetti against the wall” and hoping some will stick is never cost effective. This is especially true when contact centers are hiring hundreds of agents at a time. There is a better way. Today, agent pre-employment screenings have 90% reliability and are extremely cost effective.

From the outside, it looks like all inbound customer service reps are the same. But are they? Is a CSR that spends their day up-selling/cross-selling and winning back customers the same CSR that provides service and support? How about the reps calling on B2B? Are they the same as B2C reps? They both make outbound calls – what’s the difference? Do you think the assertiveness levels between the two reps should be different? The nuances between the roles are subtle yet profoundly different when it comes to long-term suitability for telephone based occupations.

How do you “see” these nuances to hire the right agents the first time?

Do you know what temperaments make a rock star in your center? Profiling top performers takes the mystery out of what you are looking for. The profile makes it crystal clear the type of agent you are looking for. You can see motivation levels, work ethic, tolerance and patience levels, which are soft-skills, for example. Once you have that top performer’s profile, you’ll want to replicate that agent all day long and fill your center with agents that fit this profile. Success is more than just experience; it’s the right experience, right personality type, and right value system.

Rather than putting “butts in seats”, take the time to source the right candidates. Running understaffed while you recruit the right agents will save money even if paying overtime. Those “bad fits” suck up supervisor time in training, coaching, completing performance improvement plans and ultimately, termination paperwork. The supervisor’s time can be better directed to coaching the right candidate/agent.

When the right agents are developed, they provide excellent service, cooperation improves and thus, build highly productive teams. Call stats up and agent job satisfaction improves. Hire the right agents the first time and reduce turnover before it starts. If you like the results from the constant hire/fire spaghetti strategy then keep using it, but if you want something different in the way of results you’ll want to consider Agent Pre-Employment screening. You just might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Tips!

Treat agents like managers with cost effective skill assessments. Reduce turnover and put agents into the right positions the first time.
Not all agent skill assessments are the same. Before you disqualify them, look around and find the ones that work for your center. Today there are assessments specifically for candidates who work the phones.

Take the Next Step!

Hiring right reduces recruiting and training costs and improves customer and agent satisfaction. Agents hit the floor running, giving you the right experience not just more experience. People put into the right jobs tend to get the job done faster and more meticulously with a better attitude. Productivity goes up from the start and stays up because agents like their jobs and feel good about doing them. Thus, these agents stick around longer.

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Consultant

The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.