Smart hiring managers, in contact centers and elsewhere, know that to find the right employees for their organization, it’s important to look beyond an applicant’s basic technical skills. They also need to evaluate and measure candidates’ behavioral competencies. Beyond the job description, which lists the specific tasks, functions and responsibilities for a position, competencies are the skills, abilities, or other behavioral characteristics needed to successfully perform the tasks, functions and responsibilities of a position. These can include specific technical skills such as typing speed or computer ability, or more behavioral skills or characteristics such as stress tolerance or adaptability.
Based on recent extensive job analysis research in the contact center industry, FurstPerson has found that there are common competencies 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.
In conducting our research, we asked the following questions:
What competencies do contact center agents need to demonstrate in order to be successful on the job?
Do these critical competencies differ by call type (sales, collections, customer service, technical support)?
Do these critical competencies differ by environment?
Until now, little information has been publicly available on these topics in general, let alone broken down by call type or environment. Data recently 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, consistently found that compliance is the competency most often rated as #1 in importance for successful customer care performance.
In general, compliance means conforming to a rule, such as a specification, policy, standard or law. In psychology, compliance refers to the act of responding favorably to an explicit or implicit request offered by others (Cialdini, R. B. & Goldstein, N. J. (2004). Social influence: Compliance and conformity. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 591-621). In a contact center, compliance often takes the form of following rules, policies, and guidelines and can be measured in a number of ways. When attempting to evaluate a job candidate’s likelihood of demonstrating compliance on the job, an organization can use work samples or job simulations that require or prompt rule-following behavior, for example, or they may utilize a questionnaire or self-report measure (often a personality assessment) to gauge the candidate’s tendency to follow rules. When attempting to evaluate a customer care agent’s level of compliance on the job, an organization may examine objective metrics that relate to following rules or policies, such as attendance, absenteeism, tardiness, or schedule adherence, or they may ask supervisor’s who regularly observe the agent’s behavior to evaluate the extent to which the agent demonstrates compliance on a day-to-day basis.
In any case, regardless of whether you are hiring customer care agents for a brick and mortar site or to work at home, FurstPerson’s research shows that finding candidates who demonstrate compliance among their key competencies will improve their chances for success in your organization.
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