Call Center Staffing: Best Practices for an Outstanding Team
For many companies that operate their customer service call center internally, staffing is an ongoing concern. This is currently an even larger concern in an environment where the national unemployment rate is only 3.8%. This can be both daunting and frustrating - but not impossible!
With that in mind, here are a few tips best practices for call center hiring and how to overcome some typical call center hiring issues:
Attract the Right Candidates by Identifying Your Ideal Hiring Profile
It is time to think beyond supplying the duties of the position. What type of traits and skills do you want this person to have? For CSRs, the answer typically includes buzzwords like patient, friendly, optimistic, problem solver, calm, outgoing. Go ahead, make a list and use that to define candidate selection criteria.
Identifying and choosing candidates for their aptitude and not just their abilities allows you to hire well-rounded employees that have a higher rate of success. Employees can be trained on software programs, how to answer customer questions about products or the company, but adjusting personality to fit a role is rarely successful.
Do not overlook cultural fit. A candidate who looks great on paper but who is not a fit for the company culture will not stick around and cost you in the long run.
Source Candidates Using the Job Sites Your Ideal Profile Persona Uses
It does not make much sense to create an ideal hiring profile and post it on monstor.com if that is not where your ideal candidate searches for jobs. Want to attract millennials? Look at using Instagram and Twitter to promote job openings. Social media platforms are excellent forums for promoting the company as a great place to work. Here are some more tips for posting your job listing.
In your social media posts, job announcements, and ads use the language and tone that matches the candidates you want most.
Source and post positions on job sites that attract the level of candidate you are looking to hire. Snagajob.com and ziprecruiter.com attract non-exempt (hourly) applicants looking for a new opportunity
Be clear about who you want and also what the job entails. Many CSRs quit soon after being hired because the job is not what they expected.
We get what we ask for, so portray the position as professional customer service, not a menial entry-level or dead-end job. Talk up company training and promote-from-within policies.
Make applying easy. Adopting the latest technology is crucial, especially for millennials.
Tap Your Top Performers!
Happy employees make some of the best advocates, which means top performers can be some of your best recruiters. Ask your best people for referrals. While you are at it, why not include referral bonuses as an incentive to your employees? A referral bonus will pay for itself in the long run and help spread the word that the company is hiring.
Use Assessment Testing to Narrow the Field
The more techniques you use to evaluate candidates, the more likely you are to gain a more complete, accurate picture of them as a potential CSR. Assessment testing can confirm an applicant has the right skills and also help identify which applicants are a strong fit for the role.
Along with formal testing, have top candidates role-play some calls using a real script. Also, be sure to check out their writing skills if they will be interacting with customers via chat, email, or texting. Will customers have a good experience interacting with this person?
Make the Team Part of the Interview Process
Including current CSRs in the interview process helps the internal team feel involved and invested in choosing the right candidate. It also helps weed out applicants who may be on their best behavior with the interviewer but then let their guard down to reveal true traits when talking with perceived “non-bosses.” The team is also in a great position to get a feel for cultural fit. After all, they will have to work with this person.
Be the Candidate’s Ideal Employer
The most effective (and least expensive) way to boost call center hiring results is to retain the great people you already have. There is a double bonus in creating a retention-friendly environment because the things that inspire people to stay are usually the same things that attract and close the deal with desirable new hires. For example:
Be flexible with scheduling and other rules where you can.
Train CSRs to communicate well and solve problems, then trust them to do that.
Stay abreast of compensation and benefits trends, and offer the best possible options including performance incentives.
How can you overcome your hiring issues?
- Hire a recruiting firm that specializes in call center staffing. Recruiters may know the marketplace better. They can provide input on where to look for and uncover and secure top talent for their clients. They can provide advice on the current wages necessary to drive applicants to your organization.
- Make the most of social media. Post alerts about new openings and encourage social followers to share. More importantly, post about your company and your culture. It is a very competitive marketplace, so why should someone choose to work for you over another call center?
- Enlist your current employees. Referrals are a key source of new recruits. Current employees can speak first-hand about what their job entails and the working environment. Motivate and reward your employees with incentives if they make referrals.
- Renew your focus on retention. Retaining a current, qualified employee is far less costly than recruiting a new one, and employees who love their job are most likely to promote your call center in a positive light to prospects.
- Increase wages. Make sure you are offering a competitive wage, or it may not happen.
- Broaden your benefits package with non-traditional offerings your employees are asking for.
- Never stop building relationships with candidates because fluctuating needs are a hallmark of most call centers. You will always need a backup list of qualified people to call.
- Give yourself more time. It is unlikely that you will find people who are unemployed and qualified to do the quality work that is important to you. It takes time to compete and attract new recruits, it takes time to interview and select, and it takes time for qualified applicants to give proper notice to their future ex-employer. The whole process is going to take longer, and recognizing that upfront and allotting for that extra time could make all the difference.
Outsourcing May Be the Answer
We mentioned earlier the possibility of hiring a recruiter. Outsourcing the recruiting function may help, however, you may also want to consider if this the time to work with a customer service outsourcing company, or at least a good time to discuss your situation with an outsourcer. They may have the type of people you are looking for because recruiting, training, and managing qualified talent is what they do for a living.
And if the tight labor market is going to be around for a while, outsourcing your customer service function may be a longer-term solution.