In part 2 of our blog series, we look again at one job family, Customer Care, and see how some key competencies for successful customer care agents differ between those who are successful in a brick and mortar environment and those who do well in an at-home environment.
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. Understanding the differences in competencies will enable you to be more successful at hiring the right employee.
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, found that accountability and openness to feedback are two competencies rated as important for successful customer care performance in a brick and mortar environment, but were not nearly as important for customer care agents working from home. What accounts for this difference?
Accountability, in our survey, is defined as “taking responsibility for actions and consequences”. An employee who is open to feedback “accepts and applies others’ feedback to enhance their own performance”. In a brick and mortar contact center environment, these two competencies are really two sides of the same coin. When an agent is working among their team members, and subject to more day-to-day supervision and immediate feedback, these characteristics come into play much more often than for the at-home agent. In fact, many contact centers post public and regular (e.g., daily, hourly) reminders of each agent’s performance – for example, white boards with constant updates on each agent’s handle time, call quality, or other call related scores. Agents who shy away from taking accountability and/or accepting feedback are unlikely to fare well in an environment with such constant and highly visible reminders of their performance levels. While at-home agents also typically have access to such information about themselves and/or their team members, feedback or performance related information is most often obtained virtually and not in the direct, visible presence of others, which may result in the competencies of Accountability and Openness to Feedback being much less salient to raters thinking about an at-home position than a brick-and-mortar role.
Agents working in either brick and mortar or home-based environments can be highly successful for many contact centers, and they share many skill and abilities. But key competencies for one group are not necessarily the same as those for the other group. Our research shows that when you are hiring customer care agents for a brick and mortar site, finding candidates who demonstrate accountability and openness to feedback among their key competencies will improve their chances for success in your organization.
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