Call center supervisors wear many hats – trainer, department manager, employee engagement specialist, problem solver and coach – to name a few. In an effort to hire call center representatives who have the qualities that high performers possess, pre-hire assessments are conducted. Pre-hire assessments evaluate a job candidate's abilities and personality traits to determine if the person is a good fit for the organization's culture and the job, but they also keep on giving once people start working. They give supervisors the information they need to help the employee succeed and guidance on the best way to engage the employee.
Some employee turnover is good because it offers the opportunity to bring in new people who offer a higher level of enthusiasm and new perspectives. Turnover becomes a problem when the rate is too high and an organization loses trained people to other businesses. Sometimes, the person does not work out for reasons that include low performance or inability to multi-task. However, sometimes it is due to the supervisor's lack of knowledge of the needs of the employee.
Pre-hire assessments keep on giving after a person is hired. Each assessment delivers low and high scores in various areas. For example, the CC Audition Inbound Sales simulation assesses a candidate's data input accuracy, sales and service orientations and other abilities that drive a host of outcomes, like average handle time and sales close rate.
The person also completes the 1stScreen behavioral and interpersonal style assessment, a type of personality test, with outcomes like 'open to feedback' and 'positive attitude.' Now imagine a person earns high scores in most areas, and two or three low scores. The candidate will likely be hired, especially in a tight labor market.
Once hired, the supervisor already knows the new hire's strengths and weaknesses. This is invaluable information because it helps the supervisor:
- Determine how to best utilize training resources, saving time and money
- Coach the employee in a way that produces the best results
- Provide feedback that has the most impact
- Better engage the employee through a deeper understanding of the person's characteristics
Appreciating The Work of Call Center Employees
In the Harvard Business Review article "Reinventing Customer Service" the author discusses the fact that many call centers continue to operate like a factory floor, rather than as a customer service operation that has a critical impact on the customer experience, company reputation, and the ability to create a business differentiator in the marketplace. T-Mobile created a system in which teams of cross-functional groups of representatives help customers in different geographic locations. Each team has 47 representatives, a leader, four dedicated coaches, eight technology specialists, a customer resolution expert and a resource manager. Notice there are four coaches.
A manager who successfully coaches employees knows what individuals respond to in terms of feedback, training and support. A research study considered employee turnover in relation to job satisfaction, organizational identification and psychological attachment to the business.
The result was that enhancing a sense of belonging and identification with the organization can lead to higher job satisfaction, higher motivation, organizational citizenship behaviors and reduced turnover. Supervisors need to facilitate job autonomy.
A suggestion made in the same study says to foster awareness and involvement by clarifying the emotional requirement of being an employee during the selection process. Each administered contact center test will test candidate hard skills, but it also gives the employee a good idea of the pressures and requirements of the job. There is a correlation between emotional job demands that are congruent with the employees' abilities, and job satisfaction.
The study also found that employees need a guide (the coaching supervisor or manager) and training programs to regulate emotions. Call center employees are subject to emotional dissonance which simply means they have to always be nice to customers even when they do not feel like being nice. This supports the importance of pre-hire assessments and the importance of giving people the support they need after hire.
Developing a Collaborative Team
Supervisors are more challenged than ever before to support a coaching culture. The old days of command-and-control leadership are gone. Today's employees want to be collaborative team members who understand their role in helping the company succeed. Good collaboration is crucial to a team's success and to producing innovation. A research study on this topic found that call centers promoting networking and collaboration among employees experienced a reduction in the risk of errors by 25 percent compared to call centers managed in a command-and-control manner.
It is challenging for supervisors to meet individual employee needs, especially in large call centers. Yet, it is also necessary in order to reduce expensive employee turnover and increase productivity. The pre-hire assessment is not just a tool for hiring. It is an experience that keeps on giving after the person is hired by providing the information supervisors and managers need to help people succeed. It is what good management is all about.