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This month the focus is on recruiting and we talked your ear off (or typed your eyes off?) during the last blog post. But we have a secret.

That was only part of the recruitment process.

Yes. Only part. We ended that post discussing where to hunt for good recruits and mentioned that an organization should always be hiring. Both of those are incredibly important, but the recruitment story doesn’t end there. It continues with retention. A great study showed that the turnover rate in the call center industry averages about 33%, with the average “lifespan” of an inbound customer service representative around 3 years. Both of these statistics are pretty dismal, and so working to find and keep agents needs to be part of a great recruiting plan. Finding people with the propensity to stick around means you have your work cut out for you.

Contact Center, working awayIn other words, receiving a pile of resumes for an open position is not enough. Sorting through that pile to find worthy candidates is enough, but that takes time and resources. Luckily, we have a solution.

First, consider a short screening process for all candidates. Look for a couple of basic and objective telephone skill requirements to immediately weed out unqualified candidates. If the candidate can’t speak clearly, enunciate, and use proper vocabulary on a short phone call, then a contact center job is probably not for them. (As part of the Ultimate Agent™ program, all clients receive a screening guide with questions and basic requirements included.)

Continuing at the basic skills level for this process, next consider administering simple assessment tests, such as a typing test, to see if candidates’ skills really do align with the job requirements. If a person can’t type, then a contact center job is not for them. With the technology and resources available today, pre-assessment testing can validate a candidate’s likelihood to succeed in the contact center role. It’s amazing.

The last step in the process is the face-to-face interview. Spend time thinking about methodology and what will be the best way to analyze candidates. Each style has its own merits, and each organization will value the analytics differently. Peer interviewing may not be right for one organization but be incredibly helpful for another. Most importantly, repeat the process for each candidate. You can only measure the candidates against one another if the same process exists for each one. Create a scoring guide that includes a clear process for rating candidates. It helps. It matters.

Finally, it’s time to make a hiring decision. Some candidates were immediately knocked out in the screening process, but for those that made it all the way through the process, they provided a lot of data regarding their skills and fit. The assessment testing provides a good idea of the candidates’ skills but should not necessarily be used to “knock out” anyone. If someone only does okay on the assessment testing but interviews really well, then the assessment tests can act as a roadmap for the training process by emphasizing what the candidate needs to spend time on and what skills she already has.

And there you have it. You now have qualified candidates and can make a job offer to the best one. The chances of retention are much higher, but since the key is getting them to stick around for the long run…you’ll have wait on that one in order to learn more about onboarding and training. You need all three to mold a true Ultimate Agent™.

Photo found at Wikimedia Commons.

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