Agents are your contact center’s most valuable assets. Along with being expensive to find and retain, they represent both you and your clients to individual consumers, and the quality of every interaction counts. For these reasons and more, hiring the right agents is paramount to the success of your business. So, read below for some of our best advice on investing in the right people as you grow.
1. Do your best to do it right the first time
Let’s jump right in with our most important tip. On average, it takes $2,500 and 38 days to hire a contact center agent. Going through all of the effort to find someone and then learn you spent your time and resources on the wrong person can set you back significantly.
Instead, keep in mind that everything you’re doing should help you get the right agents—ones that fit well with your organization and can help it succeed long-term—in your seats from the start.
2. Prioritize skills over experience
Recently, the hiring industry has seen a big shift from experience-based hiring to skills-based. As companies recognize that what an agent can do matters more than accomplishments on a resume, they’re changing their job descriptions and processes to make sure they’re hiring people who can really do the needed work.
And, in recent years, modern screening technology has made it much easier to shift to skills-based hiring. Online aptitude tests, adaptive screenings, API integrations, and more can help you start finding the right skills without needing to overhaul your whole process. As you prioritize finding proof of skills during hiring, you’ll be much more likely to find happier, more successful agents that want to stick around.
3. Automate your process where you can
The switch to remote work during the past year and a half has shone a major spotlight on the need for companies to adapt their processes to digital needs. As the world demands more and more remote positions, hiring processes need to accommodate those changes.
One of the most impactful things you can do is automating parts of your process. Humans are great at subjective tasks (like figuring out a candidate’s cultural fit), but repetitive, precise, objective hiring tasks should be left to machines—they’re the best at accurately doing the same things over and over again. And the best part? They can do it constantly, without needing breaks, and always get it right.
4. Make sure your applicants experience meaningful human interaction during the process
This might seem counterintuitive to my last point, but at Emmersion, we believe you really can do both—use technology during hiring and make the process personal with human interaction. In fact, better software solutions ease the burden on your recruiters and HR staff so they can do their jobs better. When they’re not burned out or stressed from performing repetitive screenings and handoffs, they can show up better in interviews for the qualified candidates that are much more likely to turn into valuable hires.
5. Screen early on
Did you know that screening candidates’ skills early in your process can speed up hiring by 63%? It’s true! Most contact center hiring professionals don’t realize how much time they’re wasting when they save skills testing for their smallest candidate pool. Screening first instead of last helps you separate skills candidates from the ones who aren’t, giving you a chance to start with a bigger talent pool from the beginning.
When you prioritize the most important things as you hire, your new employees will be more invested in your opportunity, more successful and competent in their roles, and more confident that they’re doing a great job.
6. Remember to check for “soft skills”
This is a big one, especially for contact centers. When your agents are helping customers, they need to be able to do more than just communicate in the right language, type correctly, and navigate software systems. It’s important to make sure they know how to do things like empathize, de-escalate stressful situations, and problem solve, too.
One way to do this is by adding emotional intelligence or roleplaying questions to your interviews. You may need to adjust your process to add these in, but keep in mind that an agent that has both “hard” and “soft” skills is guaranteed to be a better hire than someone who has just one or the other.
7. Look for true cultural fit
Once you know that your potential hires have the skills they need for your positions, remember to measure their cultural fit, too. Different organizations have different environments, and not everyone will mesh with yours. What type of candidates will fit well in your teams? Do they need to be competitive? Ambitious? Easygoing? Collaborative? Independent?
Human-led phone screenings and interviews are a great way to find out if your agents have qualities like these that will help them be most effective in their positions.
8. Your best sources for new agents are the ones you already have
When it comes to recruiting, the power of word of mouth can’t be underestimated. When people like things, they promote them, and jobs are no exception. Keep in mind that all of your employee engagement efforts aren’t just for your current agents’ morale. They’re also helping you to establish and build a reputation as a great place to work for agents’ family, friends, classmates, etc. Investing in employee engagement now will help you build a better talent pool for later.
We all know that contact center hiring is so important, yet so hard to do consistently, over and over again, in such a competitive industry. We hope that, if you’re struggling, these tips can help you with actionable goals to work on to get the right hires in your seats. Above all else, remember really nailing down the qualities you’re looking for and prioritizing them in your process will help you out the most as you look for top hires.