What’s The Business Value of Call Center Agents?
Call centers have well defined performance metrics. Want to grab the attention of the C-Suite? Then ensure your recruiting and selection efforts enable the call center agents to meet or exceed the centers performance metrics and deliver real value to the business bottom line.
When it comes to servicing customers — whether it be for technical support, product information, billing and payment processing, or online shopping assistance — quality counts. Call center agents, whether in an inbound, outbound or blended contact center, perform a vital function that drives sales, maintains customers and most importantly, builds brand loyalty.
Sixty (60%) percent of buyers prefer to pay more for better customer service. Eighty-six (86%) percent will stop doing business with a brand because of bad customer service experiences. Eighty-nine (89%) percent of buyers will migrate to a competitor after a poor customer interaction with the original brand1. If these three reasons are not compelling enough to receive the recruiting budget and timeline you need to positively influence your company’s bottom line, then consider the following fact. Buyers are more likely to share their negative experiences than their positive ones. With the rise of social media, negative reviews can rapidly reach thousands of people and impact a company’s reputation in just a few short business hours. Now more than ever, customers are the ones who promote a company’s brand. The ability of call center agents to deliver superior customer service, be it order, billing, account maintenance or help desk support, can give a company an edge over its competitors.
We are all in agreement that empty call center seats have real cost to the business, but so do seats occupied with the wrong talent. More and more, call centers are investing heavily in call center agent talent acquisition and recruiting in an effort to add good talent to their teams. As discussed in Recruiting Budgets, is it money well spent? investing in recruiting and selection can pay dividends.
Identifying Quality Call Center Agent Talent Is Simple Right?
In order to deliver quality customer service and maintain strong relationships with clients, companies need to identify and employ competent and skilled call center agents capable of turning each customer into a loyal brand ambassador. Based on our experience in high volume call center recruiting, the biggest challenge for recruiting and HR professionals is determining how to select the best talent for such positions when the competencies needed to perform these duties change and evolve constantly. Many contact centers use multiple channels to provide quality service to customers via phone, email, online chat, and in some cases video chat. Each channel requires a unique constellation of competencies to perform well, and a call center agent who might perform well using one channel may not be able to perform equally as well at another. This makes it important for recruiters to identify what competencies are most important for specific roles before starting the search for qualified candidates.
Recruiters should begin by deciding which relevant competencies can easily and reliably be assessed and how to sequence them in terms of priority for the selection process. For example, listening skills would be more important for representatives responding to customers via phone or video chat compared to those addressing customer concerns through email and text chat, where reading comprehension plays a greater role. Similarly, written communication skills and attention to detail would be more critical for call center agents communicating via text chat and emails than over the phone.
Against our advice, a client of ours once promoted their best customer service agents from phone-based support to email and text chat support only to find many of them unable to satisfy customers. One funny example that comes to mind, which was not so funny at the time, was when a well-intended call center agent responded with I am sorry our product damaged your sh*t when he meant shirt. Clearly, not all competencies are created equal across the different call center agent roles. Identifying and assessing critical competencies for successful performance is key for selecting the right quality candidates.
Obviously, not all call center agent positions are the same. The competencies important in customer service positions also vary based on the type of call center and the services they provide. For example, inbound center agents may need high level skills with conflict resolution, problem solving, technical trouble-shooting, or empathy. An outbound center agent may require greater skills in presentation, negotiation, and relationship building. Likewise, agents who communicate with customers through multiple channels may require higher level skills across a broader spectrum of competencies than a representative that focuses on a single channel.
As call centers adapt and change into contact centers with multiple customer service channels, companies will need to refine their competency models and change the candidate profiles of who they recruit and hire. Reviewing and identifying critical competencies for specific positions can significantly impact the quality of candidates selected and, as a result, contact center performance. Since quality customer service plays a critical role in a company’s ability to maintain business relationships with customers and protect its brand, ensuring that call center agents have the necessary skill sets at the appropriate level is a critical factor in ensuring business success.
How Call Center / Contact Center Agent Recruiting Professionals Can Impact the Business
- Critically evaluate the competency model with the hiring team to ensure it is appropriate for the specific role you are recruiting
- Build your candidate sourcing strategy from the competencies established for each unique role
- Screen candidates for the specific competencies associated with each call center agent role
- Revise your sourcing strategy and candidate screening process as positions evolve
- Look beyond call center / contact center experience and focus more on the underlying competencies required for successful performance to build wider candidate pools
- Partner with the hiring team to ensure recruitment and selection strategies are yielding hires that positively influence the key performance indicators that impact customer satisfaction and help the business meet its objectives
For more information about how to identify and connect critical call center agent competencies to call center recruiting strategies, please contact us here at The WorkPlace Group.
1. Top Contact Center Trends for 2015 – Compare Business Products http://www.comparebusinessproducts.com/resources/item/the-contact-center-in-2015