Based on recent extensive job analysis research in the contact center industry, FurstPerson has found that there are common competencies (the skills, abilities, or other behavioral characteristics needed to successfully perform the tasks, functions and responsibilities of a position) which are often important across all job families and industries. While it makes sense that some competencies would be critical for any contact center regardless of type, the reality is that job families and working environments within each organization have critical competency differences that drive successful job performance. We’re going to look at one job family, Customer Care, and see how key competencies for successful customer care agents differ between those who are successful in a brick and mortar setting and those who do well in an at-home environment.
Data gathered by FurstPerson from over 1,100 job analysis survey participants across 29 different organizations, employing agents in both brick and mortar and at home environments, confirmed the conventional wisdom that autonomy and time management are two competencies rated as more important for successful customer care performance in an at-home environment than in a brick and mortar contact center.
This makes perfect sense, of course. At-home contact center agents are often working alone, without supervisors and co-workers observing their activities (though their performance is usually monitored remotely). Several other customer care agent competencies were also rated higher for home agents than for brick and mortar agents: perseverance, time management, multi-tasking and detail orientation. Again, these are all characteristics and skills which one would assume to be important for an at-home agent to be successful in their job. Worth noting, however, is that our survey showed these at-home customer care competencies did not make the list of top competencies for brick and mortar customer care agents. This demonstrates that agents who are successful working in brick and mortar customer care positions might not have the same success if they performed their jobs from home. An agent’s success in their brick and mortar location may not have required him or her to demonstrate autonomy or perseverance or time management to the extent that he/she would need to in an at-home environment. Contact center organizations should therefore take care to ensure that agents being sent home (often as a reward for successful brick-and-mortar performance) are actually equipped for such an environment; otherwise, what is intended as a reward may actually be setting the agent up for failure. Just as there are competencies of greater importance for the brick and mortar agent, successful at-home agents often possess different skills and abilities.
FurstPerson recently published a white paper that goes into further detail on this subject titled CSAT, Net Promoter and Home Agent Models. It discusses the two primary home agent models, and what hiring managers should consider, including competencies, when hiring new home agents and promoting current agents to work at home.
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