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“Overselling” may be acceptable for moving used cars off of a lot, but not for moving job applicants into a contact center.

All too often contact center organizations – eager to geCall Center Agentt butts in seats to handle the growing workload amidst high agent turnover – schmooze and charm and delight and, yeah, I’ll say it, deceive applicants in an effort to lure them into a headset. Applicants become entranced by such embellished verbiage as “excellent pay”, “fun culture”, and “unlimited opportunity” and fall in love with the position being offered. Now, I’m not saying that all contact centers pay poorly and feature unrewarding work; I’m merely suggesting that companies be careful not to apply too much lipstick and mascara during the recruitment and interview process – especially those centers that do pay poorly and feature unrewarding work.

What’s the use of winning over qualified applicants if it results in losing them right after getting them trained up? That’s an awfully costly approach. Rather than trick talented candidates, it’s far better to give them a true glimpse of what it’s like working in the contact center so that they can make an informed employment decision – one that won’t run your early turnover rate through the roof. After all, retention is a much more important indicator of hiring success than number of holes filled.

That’s why the best contact center organizations incorporate comprehensive job previews into the hiring process. These previews go beyond merely telling  candidates what the job entails; instead agents are shown the type of work they’ll be doing – what contact types they’ll be handling, what challenges they’ll be facing and what medications they’ll be needing. And, importantly, how rewarding and valuable the role of agent can be.

Following are some examples of very effective job preview tools I’ve seen used by smart customer care organizations:

Side-by-side sessions with existing agents. Letting candidates sit with an experienced agent and plug in to listen to calls being handled is a great way for the former to see and hear what the job entails and to get to know a possible future co-worker. Between calls, candidates can ask the agent questions about the previous interaction, about the job in general, and if Xanax is provided by the company.        

Call recordings. Many contact centers allow candidates to listen to recordings of recent customer-agent interactions to show them what they’re getting themselves into. Some centers even have the candidate provide feedback on the call they’ve observed to see if they’re better at coaching than the center’s actual supervisors.    

A tour of the center – led by an agent. Agent-led tours are a good way to give candidates an insider’s view of the facility and to see how long it takes to get from the phone floor to the bathroom and back. It’s also gives agents a chance to stretch their legs so that they don’t cramp up in the middle of an up-selling opportunity with a customer. Just make sure candidates understand that getting up and walking around is a rare exception in the contact center, and that, if hired, they’ll be spending most of their time fastened to their cubicle. No need to raise expectations

Fun (yet not too fancy) videos. I’ve worked with several contact centers that empower existing agents to create a video in which they show what they do, talk about what they like (and dislike), and share what they’ve learned on the job. After editing out how agents hate Average Handle Time and most customers, you can show this video to all candidates to give them a relatively good idea of what the agent position is all about. Just be sure the video doesn’t feature any cool special effects or fancy fade-ins/outs – you don’t want candidates to get the wrong idea and think the center has enough of a budget to pay them a living wage.


About Greg Levin

Greg Levin, Founder of Off Center, is one of the most unique and refreshing voices in the customer care industry. He has been researching, reporting on and satirizing contact center management and customer care since 1994 – first with ICMI, a leading consulting and training firm, and now as an independent writer, speaker and rabble rouser.  

Greg offers a wide range of valuable and compelling resources – all aimed at educating, empowering and entertaining contact center professionals worldwide. Most notable is his popular weekly Off Center blog and his critically acclaimed ebook, Full Contact: Contact Center Practices and Strategies that Make an Impact. 

To learn more about Greg and what he brings to the table, go to: www.offcenterinsight.com.