In this series we will look at some useful tips for contact centre management, as seen by our work in the Australian contact centre industry. They are not presented in any particular order.
This article is the third of nine articles in the series.
Recruit the Right People
In an effort to keep costs down, contact centres often recruit reactively – they wait for staff to leave before recruiting new staff, by which time it is urgent to get staff on board because customer service is suffering. All too often the focus is quantity, not quality – just get the ‘cheeks on seats’.
This approach usually adds to the attrition problem – the wrong people are put in the wrong job and finish up leaving after a relatively short time. Rushed, or inadequate training will also worsen the problem.
Another approach is to forecast attrition and recruit staff before a vacancy actually exists. This is more expensive in real dollar terms because you are often over-staffed, however it saves the hidden costs that are not always considered. Some examples of hidden costs are:
- The impact to customer service from the time the original staff member resigns to the time they actually leave – they are at work but are effectively “checked out” and not performing to optimum.
- The impact to customer service after the original staff member leaves but before the new staff member is ready to service customers – this includes the recruitment and training period. Remember – you will be down one full staff member during this period.
- The impact to customer service from the time the new staff member starts servicing customers until they are fully productive – they will be constantly learning and becoming more productive during this period.
- The damage to company reputation resulting from these reduced levels of customer service.
Make absolutely no mistake – contact centre work is not easy; despite public opinion it is certainly not ’entry level’. Contact centre staff have to know more about the organisation, its people, products and services than anyone else in the organisation – which is why so many contact centre staff are “poached” into other areas of the business. In addition to this, they need to have the right attitude and approach – they have to get excited about helping people. People ring contact centres because they have a problem – I have never heard anyone ring a contact centre to wish the agent a nice day! Doctors have the same issue – people only go to the doctor when they are sick, but doctors are excited about helping people. It is critical that contact centre staff are genuinely excited about helping people and meeting customers’ needs.
Many contact centres do undertake aptitude tests and psychometric tests of new employees, as well as putting all new staff through “assessment centres” as part of the recruitment process. I also recommend using appropriate testing to define a desirable personality profile based on the traits of your best staff, and testing new staff against these traits to ensure they have the right personality and attitudes (not aptitude) for contact centre work.
Spend more time in the recruitment process, select the right staff, use aptitude testing together with personality profiling and your staff turnover will drop significantly – and so will your costs.
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All previous articles are available on our web site – www.ccaction.com.au
Next article – Focus On The Right Metrics.