Recently, AnswerDash published an infographic – the Customer Experience Champ – which provided consumer ratings on different touchpoint channels.  According to AnswerDash, consumers rate their customer experience satisfaction for online customer support as follows: 

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Live chat continues to grow as a communication channel.  And, based on the AnswerDash data, consumers seem to prefer it for specific needs like online customer service support.   

But, what makes a good chat agent and how to do you evaluate job candidates for potential live agent chat roles.  The cost of a wrong hire can be significant according to the AnswerDash data.  52% of consumers will abandon an online purchase if they can’t receive a quick answer. 

Successful live chat performance requires your chat agent to:  shutterstock_108378377

  • Understand how to navigate your computer system and chat application 
  • Correctly enter data, type messages, and send accurate information to the customer 
  • Strong service orientation that shows tactful, thorough, and attentive responses to the customer 
  • Ability to manage the flow of multiple incoming chats in a timely fashion 

Based on FurstPerson’s research and experience developing hiring profiles and talent selection tools to evaluate job candidates for companies that hire chat agents, your hiring process should be able to measure: 

  • Problem-solving/learning ability/decision-making 
  • Communication skills, particularly written communication 
  • Interpersonal and relationship-building skills 
  • Personal characteristics related to conscientiousness and composure, 
  • Initiative, adaptability, and interpersonal style 

By measuring these abilities, skills, and behaviors, you’ll improve the probability that candidates you hire for live chat agent roles will deliver a positive customer experience. 

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When you maximize the effectiveness of your employee selection process, you can drive powerful business shutterstock_220804741results into your organization. This includes cost savings from reduced turnover as well as increasing profitability through improved productivity and customer satisfaction. 

The key to an effective process is good design. The five steps outlined here will help you design a results-driven hiring process to consistently improve your quality of hire. 

Step 1 - Recruitment Strategy 

Recruitment often gets overlooked in the pre-hire process. However, it is one of the most critical stages – the more candidates you can drive into your hiring process, the more options have for filling open positions 

Using a three-tier model to categorize your recruiting sources can help you understand how effectively they are working for your organizationThis also provides an opportunity to more closely evaluate recruiting spend and determine how to best shift your budget to optimize your process. 
 

  • Tier 1:  Traditional Recruiting  

    Newspaper ads, job fairs, etc. Traditional recruiting is the most straightforward, yet also the most costly. It also tends to result in weaker retention and performance measures once employees are onboard. 

  • Tier 2: Internet-based Recruiting  

    Online job boards, resume databasesetcThere are a lot of internet-based recruiting resources available today with varying benefits. In general, these resources offer both good retention and performance outcomes. 

  • Tier 3: Person to Person   

    Employee referrals are a good example. Employee referrals may result in the best retention and productivity outcomes. 

Step 2 - Measurement and Assessments  

The best way to determine candidate fit for a particular job is by taking a holistic approach to your assessments and measuring three key areas – knowledge and ability, job relevant skills, and personality and motivation. Measuring just one area leaves other areas uncovered. 

Using a variety of assessments provides a holistic approach to your measurement process. Simulations or situational judgment tests evaluate job relevant skills by putting candidates in scenarios that require them to perform the job. Personality assessments and biographical data testing measure motivational fit – the attitudes and behaviors around specific job role 

Problem solving or knowledge and ability assessments ask questions that get at verbal and written communication skills or logic and numerical skills. The goal here is to determine whether a candidate can look at information, absorb and apply it back to resolve a problem or situation. 

While a well-structured interview can be very effective, it is difficult to get answers that are as reliable as those provided through other types of assessments. Taking a holistic approach using a variety of assessment tools will result in stronger outcomes for your hiring process. 

Step 3 - Improving Interviews 

Improving interviews requires making the process more measurement driven than interpretive. The challenge is that organizations often have different people conducting interviews with different skill levels and different approaches.  

Reduce variance by creating a consistent interview process that includes an interview guide with standardized questions. Interviewers should not make up their own questions. In addition interview questions should have anchors, such as answers on a scale of 1-5, with descriptions of what a 1 looks like vs. what a 5 looks like. 

Take the time to train interviewers. Put them through mock interviews and have them rate the interviewee. Analyze how scores differ among interviewers who are rating the same candidate. Use that information for additional training and insight into continually improving your interview process.   

Step 4 - Candidate Experience 

Think about the candidate experience as you design your system. How are you going to interact with the candidate through the process? What are they going to experience? Often candidates can dictate how they approach your company.  

Be sure to follow up with candidatesCreate service level agreements between your recruiting team and the hiring managers so clear standards and expectations are in-place. Establish a coherent process through which everyone who comes in contact with a candidate knows what to do and how to act, building in the appropriate follow-up. 

Step 5 - Workflow Modeling 

Most pre-hire processes traditionally involve three steps – reviewing applications, interviewing and onboarding. Recruiters tend to spend a lot of time interviewing. For example, they may interview 100 candidates and 50 are going to pass.  

When technology and data come into play, the recruiter’s job becomes much easier. Using an automated pre-hire assessment such as personality testing or simulations, you can significantly reduce you interview population. Now instead of talking to 100 candidates, recruiters are talking to 56And, these candidates are more qualified  

Using automated assessments before you engage in interviews will help you move more candidates through the process more efficiently.  Spending time modeling your recruiting workflow will ultimately uncover the best hiring process for your company. 

The intersection of recruiting, sourcing, and quality of hire offers opportunities to create a more effective pre-hire process for your organization. Understanding that relationship in your organization helps you put negotiation leverage back to your suppliers and helps you reduce spending in areas that are not delivering. 

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Organizational alignment is one of the biggest challenges in creating an effective hiring process. When human resources, training, and operations all have different goals or a different focus, it impacts the success of your hiring process 

For example, when interviewing executives to get their understanding of a job, you might find that their perceptions of what the job entails are different from the actual work being done. Whether that’s right or shutterstock_156241703wrong, there is a gap. Informing those executives and creating better alignment becomes important. 

There can also be varying incentives regarding retention. For example, human resources could have a goal to hire people who stay on the job, where trainers have an incentive to move people out of training who aren’t getting itThat creates a disconnect from what the recruiter is trying to accomplish and what the trainer is tying to accomplish. Operations is then not getting people who are ready to move into a production role, creating an opportunity cost because work is not being done. 

To fix alignment early on in your hiring process, establish a cross-functional team with representatives from HR, training, and operations.  The team should focus the five areas outlined below.

1. Operations and Goals  

Establish standard performance measurements that support organizational goals. 

How do you measure performance for each of your employees? In some cases determining this is easy. For example, for an executive sales person, ithis/her sales rate on a monthly basis or against quota or by hour. 

It’s here where you start to layout the scorecard and metrics used to evaluate job performanceThis, in turn, will help you determine the types of candidates you need to hire for job success.

2. Business Strategy  

You also need to have a common understanding of the business strategy. What’s happening in the industry/company? Are things changing? How will an acquisition or new technology impact the organization? Your hiring practices should bring in the skills that match the organization’s needs.

Therefore, your hiring requirements need to align with the direction of the businessFor example, if the business strategy is to provide more technology – such as dynamic systems that require more computer or multi-tasking skills – requirements for hiring need to change to meet those needs. Otherwise there will be a gap, or disconnect, between they types of employees you are hiring and the skills needed for success

3. Focus Group Feedback 

Meeting with current employees with various levels of tenure will provide an insiders perspective of the job. Make sure that job performance and tasks are discussed collectively from an alignment perspective. This is also a good way to uncover underlying retention issues.

4. Survey Results  

Engagement and job analysis surveywill help inform you about your employee population and the competencies required for a job.  

5. Employee Performance  

Be sure to understand what is actually being measured and whether that is consistent with the business goals you outlined earlier in your discussions.

Your overriding goal should be to drive quality of hire, improving quality of hire over time. However, you have to be able to measure quality of hire in order to improve it. These discussions are where you start to build those measurement items and create alignment within your organization to ensure all areas are working to achieve better business results through greater employee success 

 

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When developing an employee selection strategy, it is important to balance compliance, measurement and performance, and recruiting 

Compliance is not only the right thing to do; it is also legally required.  Different government laws may How to Create Balance In Your Employee Selection Process impact your hiring process.  These laws are often enforced by different government bodies.  You should spend time understanding your compliance requirements so you know how to adjust your hiring process. 

The key is to make sure your hiring process does adversely impact a protected group. 

Also, make sure that your interview process is managed just like a test.  Interviews are just another form of assessments. 

Evaluating thcandidates for a particular job needs to be balanced with measurement and performance. Measurement and performance relates to the tools that are being used to evaluate job candidates and how you are linking those evaluations back to job performance.  

Understanding your compliance obligations and how your hiring funnel is impacted based on recruiting candidates who will perform better on the job allows you to balance your recruiting process against these needs.  Whether it is your accommodation policies or monitoring how many candidates you need at the top of your recruiting funnel to meet your hiring targets, your recruiting process should be developed in conjunction with your compliance and measurement processes. 

Balancing compliance, recruiting, and measurement and performance will strengthen your hiring process. It is important to carefully consider each of these and how they work together to maximize your assessment strategy and drive powerful business results for your organization. 

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Using pre-employment assessments in your hiring process can generate real business results. This Screen_Shot_2014-10-06_at_4.41.58_PMincludes reducing turnover, improving new hire performance and developing a better understanding of your hiring process.  

While some companies consider assessments too costly, every $1 investment in pre-employment assessments can yield $5 or more in return. Three terms your team needs to know to build a solid foundation for pre-employment assessment success: job analysis, validation, and reliability.  

Job Analysis 

A job analysis is a process of systematically collecting information about a job that specifies what it takes to perform that job well. This involves observing employees on the job, understanding the tasks that allow someone to complete the job, and how those tasks relate to successful performance. 

A job analysis helps you understand job competencies – the abilities, skills, and behaviors – needed to perform job successfully.  Every job is made up of a combination of competencies. For example, competencies for a customer service representative job would include computer skills, multi-tasking, stress tolerance, dependability, oral communication, etc.  Breaking a job down by well-defined competencies helps you describe and measure it.  

Validation  

Based on a statistical process, validation is the extent to which an assessment measures what it is intended to measure. It’s directly derived from identifying how scores on an assessment link to job performance. 

Understanding the relationships between assessment scores and job performance is important for compliance. If you face a challenge – from a government entity or a legal proceeding with an employee – you need to be able to show that you defined the job through job analysis. You also need to demonstrate that your hiring process relates to actual job performance 

Reliability  

An offshoot of validation, reliability is how consistently a test measures a characteristic. You want to ensure your assessments generate reliable results over and over.  

From a compliance standpoint, you need to ensure your assessments reliably measure characteristics that link to successful job performance.  

It is possible to come across assessment tools that do not provide the same results when measuring candidatesBe sure to test for reliability when evaluating and developing assessment tools. 

As the use of analytics becomes more popular, there is growing trend towards using only statistical analysis to create a hiring processPurely looking at the intersection of two data points to create an assessment may not be enough. You need to understand the full story of why someone will be successful and demonstrate the reliability of your assessments in your hiring process. 

Commanding a strong understanding job analysis, validity, and reliability will help you develop a hiring process that not only reduces turnover and improves productivity, but also meets compliance standards and increases the defensibility of your hiring process 

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What do organizations that continuously field great employees do in their hiring process?  Well, job simulationsprofessional sports teams, orchestras, and Broadway musicals require everyone to audition for the job.  Common to each of these types of organizations is the desire for excellence.  To help them ensure they will deliver a product that pleases their fans, they will typically require all potential team members or performers to audition for the job.  Unlike traditional interviews, which are all about “tell me” what you can do, auditions or simulations require potential future employees to “show me” what you can do.

For recruiting leaders hiring customer service, sales, or support employees, using a simulation can help you measure key job skills and abilities.

Realistic multi-media simulations allow job candidates to play the part of a fictitious service, sales, or support representative while auditioning for a job from anywhere in the world. This gives hiring managers a realistic preview of a candidate’s skills, such as computer, multitasking and data entry skills. Leading simulations have evolved from minimally interactive situational judgment tests to microcosms of service economy jobs, complete with training, interactive dashboards, timers, and branching that allows candidates to escalate or deescalate a customer’s emotional response based on how well they manage the interaction.

Simulations provide a company’s talent acquisition team benefits in five ways:

  1. Recreate job tasks critical to the performance required in any given job which provides you with an improved way to measure the candidate.
  2. Assess an applicant's aptitude for learning how to perform tasks required on a given job before they are hired.
  3. Assess a candidate's present ability to perform job related tasks by linking simulation performance to actual job performance using predictive analytics.
  4. Provide applicants with a realistic preview of critical job tasks so they have a better understanding of the job requirements and duties.
  5. Create an engaging candidate experience which promotes your employment brand. 

 

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Measuring success is the direct result of sound planning, accurate assessment, standardized interviewing,TA_Blog_Post_5_Photo and transparent communication. New hire evaluations begin with the on-boarding process and the collection of information through the dissection of training scores and voluntary and involuntary attrition rates to predict future productivity and long-term retention. Immediate feedback from managers and trainers helps recalibrate competencies and constantly improve the hiring process. 

Over the year, regular and transparent analysis will determine how top and bottom employees perform in an open environment and provide the necessary information to constantly reshape and create a better hiring plan. The goal is to supply every employee with the tools for success through training, coaching, development, and career pathing. Giving your hires the tools to shape their individual careers will provide the blueprint for achieving corporate strategy success. 

Individual recruiter achievement is rooted in setting clear and measurable goals in a transparent environment and providing the tools to improve productivity. Acquisition strategies are mainly tied to attrition and fill rates, but in most instances poor performance issues are found in soft skill and personality problems that can be overcome through regular communication between managers and team members. A strong team foundation is built on coaching, mentoring, and taking the time to get to the root of the problem through regular one-on-one interaction.  

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At all times during the hiring cycle, transparent communication and redundant skill sets between all TA_Blog_Post_4_Photomembers of the talent acquisition team are vital to success. Improvements in technology make the process easier, but breakdowns may occur and alter the direction of any mass hiring. These changes can be mitigated through leadership preparation and the strength of the acquisition team in three key areas 

  1. A nimble team can change the sourcing strategy without losing any ground. 
  2. A cross-trained team can alleviate any personnel or tactical changes in hiring strategy in real time.  
  3. A redundancy factor strong at every recruiting level will overcome any potential obstacle.   

Transparency gives recruiters the power to make group decisions seamlessly and manage time efficiently while always moving forward through the hiring process. 

Consistent meetings and communication with team members will result in better overall recruiting efforts and also a prolonged improvement of skills. Stronger recruiters can provide insight and mentor to struggling team members. A cohesive and transparent environment provides the structure to share skills and build an ongoing and continuously improving talent acquisition unit. 

Transparency is more than technology; it’s the ability to meet during any time of the day to make actionable group decisions. The candidate experience should be as quick and fair as possible to every candidate. Candidate notification is important to keep qualified candidates moving forward and to ensure that “knocked out” candidates still remain brand champions of your company.  

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Interviews based on gut instinct will produce a continuous pipeline of successful employees as often as aScreen_Shot_2014-08-14_at_11.54.45_PM high school football team will win enough games to make the NFL playoffs. Interviews have to be aligned with every job description to assure all candidates are evaluated fairly and accurately as quickly as possible. Through a standardized process candidates are not only evaluated more thoroughly, but team members can share information faster and make candidate-hiring decisions quicker.  

Interview training is a necessity and should encompass all aspects of the process: what to ask and not ask, how to conduct an audio or virtual interview, how to manage an interview, and how to measure a successful interview. A poorly trained interviewer will make decisions that hurt the strategic goals of a company for years. Face to face interviews are much more than a simple evaluation of hard skills, but a behavioral understanding of work style, direct experience, and personality insight designed to uncover the soft skills that will drive long-term employee productivity and success.  

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Candidate assessment is a science designed to let recruiters read between the resume lines and tease out the best candidate fits. Properly implemented, this pre-hiring stage should provide a direct correlation to top performers and growth opportunities over time. Case studies in mass hiring have shown that assessment and screening provide more pertinent and measureable information related to candidate leadership, business acumen, and overall success indicators than the interview process.  

The true value of assessment provides additional candidate gifts well beyond the scope of your specific job requisition. A complete assessment will identify the strengths of candidates for many other jobs at your company, which is the talent acquisition version of having your cake and eating it too. Candidate assessment allows managers to pull back the curtain and find out if the candidate is truly a wizard or merely another traveler on the yellow brick road with an inflated skill set. 

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