This well-researched report from ContactBabel provides data on how the respondents answered questions on these three topics. In our brief, we want to provide some alternative thoughts based on our practical experience and research working with contact center organizations.
It is not surprising to see ability to multi-task as an important attribute. For example, the 2011 Guide surveyed the respondents on the number of applications that a call center agent must access during a call. 88% of the respondents indicated that agents must access more than one application and 60% have to access more than 3 applications in order to manage a call. For the new hire, being able to multi-task is an important attribute to job success.
In the 2011 Guide, empathy with customers is considered to be the leading attribute for successful call center job performance. While empathy with customers is important, FurstPerson’s client driven job analysis surveys (N=1,172) show that compliance is usually rated the top competency. In fact, empathy with customers rarely makes the top ten rankings in the job analysis surveys. FurstPerson’s rating is based on subject matter experts within contact center organizations evaluating the competencies that drive successful performance within their respective center.
The key point for hiring managers to understand is that a local job analysis conducted using subject matter experts (agents, trainers, supervisors, and managers) provides your organization with the best understanding of the competencies that drive top performance. Creating this foundation enables the right hiring process to be adopted so these competencies are most accurately measured in each job candidate.
When an organization builds the hiring process, the effort to link the hiring tools to the competency model is critical. For example, the 2011 Guide points out that 88% of the respondents indicated that agents must access more than one application. Multi-tasking, not surprisingly, was selected as an important attribute (competency) for successful job performance. So, what is the best way to measure multi-tasking – an interview, a personality assessment, a call center simulation? Without matching the right assessment/hiring tool to measure the critical competencies that drive job performance call center hiring managers are at a significant disadvantage to accurately select the right candidates for advancement.
Based on the 2011 Guide, the face-to-face interview was consistently rated as the most effective hiring tool according to the respondents.
We have discussed the role of the interview in previous articles. While the interview is an important tool to develop rapport with the candidate, evaluate oral communication, and provide additional predictive power in certain well-structured formats, FurstPerson research and other well-documented research has shown that the interview is not as effective as certain types of assessment tools like simulations, personality assessments, and cognitive ability assessments. The ideal approach is a combination of these assessments plus an interview.
While the interview is rated as the most effective hiring tool which runs contrary to practical experience and proven research, the 2011 Guide does highlight the critical trend related to contact center hiring:
“By tracking the in-job performance of applicants who scored either well or poorly in pre-job assessments, businesses can improve their ongoing recruitment techniques. For example, agents who have high assessment test scores often have higher revenue-per-call ratios, lower average call lengths and lower attrition rates than those who scored lower in pre-job character and personality assessments. The behaviors, personality traits and characteristics that a top agent is most likely to have can then be identified, and the results fed back into the top of the recruitment process. This allows the recruitment process to seek out the types of people who have already been proven to succeed in that role.” (Page 211 from the report.)
Taking the time to conduct an empirically based job analysis and then matching the right hiring tools to evaluate job candidates enables the organization to select talent based on real performance drivers. The net result is better new hire retention and job performance that can be quantified into a business case.
The respondents who identified how a performance driven hiring process using empirical research to drive the hiring model and use of selection tools have highlighted the right approach to call center hiring.