FurstPerson's Dr. Brent Holland recently led an interactive session, Global contact centre applicant skills benchmarks, at the 2016 Customer Contact Expo in London. Below is a rundown of Dr. Holland's latest research findings.
Even more than the C-suite, the contact center is the beating heart of any large enterprise. However, finding the right talent isn’t always easy in the contact center space. While most industry insiders realize the role of a contact center agent is a complex one, identifying agents capable of handling the complexity and truly excelling in these types of roles presents a challenge to many companies.
But, improvement begins with knowledge.
Before organizations can improve the quality of hire among their contact center agents, it is critical they understand the strength of the contact center talent pools in their respective markets. In his research, Dr. Holland examined three common contact center skills:
- typing speed
- English writing
- inbound sales
This game-changing research provides contact center leadership with the information they need to drive ahead of the competition and increase revenue. The study focused on 1,144,102 English-speaking job applicants. The parameters were as follows:
- applicants applied to contact centers between 2014 and 2015 in 293 locations
- locations studied were distributed across 14 countries
- sample sizes ranged between 542,655 (USA) and 239 (Dominican Republic)
- applicants applied to seven different types of contact center jobs (though not all jobs or contact center skills’ assessments are represented in every country)
The study measured contact center skills using a variety of assessments and work-sample simulations1. Note that the research summarized below has been standardized to permit direct comparisons across markets. Each of the tools used to measure the contact-center skills summarized below, except for the basic typing test, are described in table below:
Typing Skills - USA and Philippines Demonstrate Comparable Proficiency
Though our research shows that it benefits companies to consider not just typing speed, but overall keyboarding skills, most organizations require a minimum number of words-per-minute to qualify for certain jobs.
The chart below illustrates typing speeds across three key markets. While applicants in the USA excel in all four areas, Philippine job applicants demonstrate comparable skillsets across the board. In fact, the actual words-per-minute for applicants are 32 (USA), 29 (Philippines), and 19 (India), respectively.
Surprisingly, Indian applicants’ typing skills lag behind those of the Philippines, in spite of the fact that the rate of personal computer market penetration in both regions is 9% and 10% respectively, compared to 79% in the USA.
Additionally, while surmising that mobile technology might play a large part in this difference, the Philippines’ market has a higher mobile penetration rate than India.
English Writing Skills – USA, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates Show the Most Promise
In an expanding market, there continues to be a growing demand for proficiency in both written and spoken English language skills. When observing the relative strength of written English skills, the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Canada lead the pack by significant margins. On the other hand, El Salvador and Philippines’ applicants demonstrate below-average performance on:
- constructing complete sentences (34% and 35%)
- grammar (41% and 39%)
- instructional writing (41% and 43%)
- overall writing skills (39% and 35%)
However, candidates from both El Salvador and the Philippines outperform applicants from other large markets including Columbia, India, Mexico, and St. Kitts. Colombian, Indian and Mexican applicants score similarly on most dimensions.
The USA and United Kingdom Lead in Inbound Sales Skills
When it comes to driving contact centers forward, few roles are more essential – and more difficult to hire for – than inbound sales/support roles. Every inbound call presents representatives with the opportunity to drive additional revenue by identifying additional needs, educating customers, inform them of new offers and potentially close a brand new sale. However, organizations need to proceed carefully when choosing whom to hire for these hybrid service-sales roles.
Representatives with the greatest likelihood of success excel in each of the following areas:
- computer ability
- job-specific sales skills2.
One implication is that the best inbound sales representatives tend to draw on a myriad of skills, enabling them to simultaneously perform a variety of different tasks including searching for account or promotional information while also engaging with the customer. Doing so creates a smooth and enjoyable experience for the caller, and an opportunity to drive additional sales for the representative.
Overall, we studied four major markets with sales-related skills’ benchmarking data.
The USA and United Kingdom achieved the highest overall sales scores with Filipino applicants demonstrating comparable skills and coming in a close third.
While the results showed a great deal of variability in terms of Data Entry Accuracy, each market scored comparably in terms of Multi-Tasking ability.
The relative weakness of Mexican applicants on Computer skills is important and points to a critical development need if the country’s contact-center industry wishes to remain competitive for inbound sales jobs.
As competition heats up among an increasingly globalized market, the markets your business chooses to recruit contact center applicants will play a much larger role in your ability (or inability) to drive business, customer satisfaction, and revenue.
While candidates in the USA demonstrate strength in skills across the board, other global markets demonstrate nearly identical proficiency in English Writing (UAE and Canada) and Inbound Sales (United Kingdom and Philippines). Though it's too early to draw final conclusions about which countries possess the strongest overall contact center typing, writing, and inbound sales skills, the above research provides a jumping-off point for organizations considering expansion by outlining the implications of which markets they choose to recruit candidates.
Get the complete rundown of Dr. Holland's research by downloading your free copy of his presentaiton below.
- Holland, B. (2013). Multimedia contact center simulations improve hiring accuracy. Employment Relations Today, Fall, 2013.
- Holland, B. & Lambert, D. (2013). How to measure contact center skills using multimedia simulations. In M. S. Fetzer & K. A. Tuzinski (Eds.) Simulations for employee personnel selection. New York: Springer.
Topics: Contact Center Hiring