Call Center Recruiting And Hiring Practices Report

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Strategies & Solutions for Call Center Professionals WorldwideCall CenterRecruiting andHiring PracticesReportSI00019

CALL CENTER RECRUITING & HIRING PRACTICES REPORTCall Center Management Review providesthe research, strategies and solutionsnecessary to successfully manage a customer contact center. Our independentperspective, relevant reports and indepth analysis enables organizations toprovide cutting-edge customer services,and for individuals to further theircareers.Call Center Management Review welcomes letters, articles and photographsfrom its readers. We do, however, reservethe right to edit or reject submissions.Articles represent the opinions of theauthors, and not necessarily those ofCCMReview. Although we believe allsources of information we publish to bereliable, we cannot guarantee completeness or accuracy. Expert advice on anysubject matter should be obtained from acompetent professional.PRESIDENTBrad ClevelandGROUP DIRECTORRuthann FisherOPERATIONS DIRECTORLinda HardenPUBLICATIONS DIRECTORSusan HashDESIGN DIRECTOREllen HerndonCall Center Management Review is published monthly by International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), adivision of CMP Media, LLC. Subscriptions for CCMReview and access tothe online archives are only available tomembers of ICMI. For more informationon becoming a member, please Office Box 6177Annapolis, MD 21401-9868STUDY RESULTS2007 Call Center Recruiting and HiringPractices Study Resultsven with all of the rapid advances in call center technology, and all ofthe mature, robust tools that help to power a center’s success, a skilledand inspired front line of agents is still the reigning “killer app” incustomer contact.High-touch will always supersede high-tech when it comes to ensuringlasting customer satisfaction and loyalty. Thus, having solid agent recruiting and hiring practices in place is critical. Talented and engaged agentsdon’t just come knocking on a call center’s door; centers must continuously strive to attract qualified staff, and use effective applicant screening andassessment methods to help identify the potential top performers.To uncover how today’s contact centers are actually tackling the recruiting and hiring challenge, ICMI conducted a thorough survey in November2006. In all, 256 call center professionals representing a wide array ofindustries and center sizes participated in the survey — sharing how theyattract potential agent stars to their center, how they quickly weed out thewannabes, and how they determine if those who show promise truly are agood fit in the fast-paced and challenging call center environment.The following are the key findings from the survey:EParticipants’ Background The top five industries represented in the study include:1. Financial services (20.3%)2. Telecommunications (7.8%)3. Medical Healthcare (6.6%)4. Retail (5.1%)5. Manufacturing (4.7%) and Utilities (4.7%) (tie) The vast majority (86%) of respondents work in North American contact centers, with the largest representation coming from the Midwest U.S.(21.1%), the Southeast U.S. (13.7%), the Southwest U.S. (12.9%), and theNortheast U.S. (12.9%). Several respondents (7.4%) work in Canadiancenters, and a handful of respondents work in contact centers in Mexico,continued on next page800-672-6177410-267-0700 (outside USA)Fax 410-267-0962www.icmi.comEmail: icmi@icmi.comReproduction of Call Center ManagementReview in whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher, is illegaland punishable by fines of up to 50,000per violation. 2007 ICMI, a division of CMP Media, LLC.All rights reserved.In this ISSUEThe Contact Center Agent of the Future: How Call Centersand Agents’ Jobs Are Changing .4Recruit Agents with the Right Blend of Attitude and Ability.7Generation-Specific Recruiting: How to Attract Various Age Groups .8The Often-Ignored Art of Supervisor 2007 ICMI, a division of CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved.Call Center Recruiting and Hiring Practices Report ii

CALL CENTER RECRUITING AND HIRING PRACTICES REPORTStudy Results(continued from page ii)South/Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia/Pacific Rim, the Middle East, and Africa.Recruiting Practices The five most common agent recruiting methodsthat respondents cited using “very often” or “often”are:1. Employee referrals (84.8%)2. Online recruiting via own corporate Web site(73%)3. Help wanted ads in local/regionalnewspaper/magazine (68%)4. Online recruiting via third-party Web sites, suchas,, etc.(58.2%)5. Employment/temp agencies (48.4%)Other common recruiting methods cited includegeneral job fairs (39.8%) and campus recruitmentactivities (36.3%). Somewhat surprisingly, only 3.9% ofrespondents indicated that their center used their IVRsystem to announce job openings. Nearly two in three respondents (64.8%) reported rewarding existing staff whenever they make a successful agent candidate referral. The most commonreward — by far — is cash (97%). Some centers alsoprovide the referring employee with merchandise, giftcertificates and/or event tickets (7.2%), and a fewother centers (2.4%) use paid time off as a reward. Acouple of respondents reported offering a prime parking spot for a week/month to agents who make successful employee referrals. Only one respondent inthe entire study indicated using preferred schedules asa reward for job referrals. The majority (58.2%) of centers surveyed saidthat they create ideal agent “profiles” (based on theirbest agents’ skills/attributes) to help determine thekey characteristics to highlight in recruiting and totest for during assessments. Three out of four (77%)of these centers seek input from existing frontline staffto help determine the key characteristics of successfulagents and create useful profiles. (To read more aboutfactors impacting call center agent success profiles, seepage 4.) 2007 ICMI, a division of CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved.STUDY RESULTSTracking Recruiting Effectiveness Of some concern is the fact that only 41.4% ofcenters surveyed formally track how successful theirrecruitment methods are (i.e., which one most oftenled to the hiring of a solid-performing, long-lastingagent.) Considering the costs involved in recruiting —and the amount of time that may be wasted in screening/assessing poorly qualified candidates — centerswould be wise to evaluate the effectiveness of eachrecruiting method and determine which are worth themoney and effort. Centers that do measure recruiting success use avariety of methods to do so, including:1. Tracking agent retention by tenure (57.7%)2. Tracking the number of qualified applicantsreceived per recruiting method (56.7%)3. Tracking agent performance after initial trainingand on-boarding period (55.7%)4. Tracking agent performance during initial training (47.4%)5. Tracking number of applicants received perrecruiting method (44.3%) Centers that measure recruiting success wereasked which single recruiting method is the mosteffective. The results:1. Employee referrals (33.7%)2. Online recruiting via third-party Web site(16.3%)3. Online recruiting via own corporate Web site(14.3%)4. Help wanted ads in local/regionalnewspaper/magazine (12.2%)5. Employment/temp agencies (10.2%) and general job fairs (10.2%) (tie)Top Labor Pools Respondents were asked what specific labor poolstheir center actively taps as part of its recruitingefforts. The top five labor pools cited include:1. Recent college graduates (37.9%)2. College students (36.6%)3. Gen Xers (34.5%)4. Gen Yers (32.3%)5. Mature workers (24.7%)(For more information about recruiting for variousage groups, see page 8.)Call Center Recruiting and Hiring Practices Report 1

CALL CENTER RECRUITING AND HIRING PRACTICES REPORTCall centers could do much to improve theirrecruiting/hiring tactics by focusing more on themature worker (individuals aged 55 to 70-plus) laborpool. The mature workforce — in addition to having areputation for being loyal/responsible and for caringabout customers — is one of the largest and fastestgrowing labor pools in the United States. Nevertheless, many companies continue to overlook this laborpool, mainly due to common negative stereotypes andmyths about older workersCenters are also missing out on a prime opportunity to bolster their front lines with committed and qualified staff by not actively recruiting individuals withdisabilities — only 9.4% of respondents reported targeting this highly underemployed yet viable laborpool. As Kelly Egan, president of HirePotential (a consulting firm that helps organizations integrate individuals with disabilities), says, “These individuals are qualified, eager and largely untouched by traditionalrecruiting efforts.”Contact centers should tap individuals with disabilities not just because it’s the socially responsible thingto do, but because it’s the smart thing to do from abusiness perspective — according to studies by organizations like the Office of Disability Employment Policy(ODEP), such workers are as productive as any otheremployee, often with better attendance records andloyalty (retention), since it’s so difficult for a disabledindividual to find gainful and rewarding employment. Only 6.2% of centers surveyed allow new-hires towork from home. However, more centers may soonfollow suit after hearing the following: Among centersthat enable new agents to telework, 73.3% indicatethat the home-agent option has significantly or somewhat improved the center’s ability to attract higher caliber agents than before.Prescreening Tools and Methods By far, the two most common prescreening toolscenters use to weed out unfit agent candidates early inthe assessment process are: 1) resume/cover letterevaluations (87.7%); and 2) live phone screenings(75.9%). Surprisingly, only 7.2% of respondents indicated using recorded (IVR) phone screenings — apractice that can save those in charge of assessments/hiring a lot of time and effort, especially if 2007 ICMI, a division of CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved.STUDY RESULTSinvest in IVR-based screening tools that automaticallyeliminate the weakest candidates and highlight thosewho appear to have the most potential. The surveyparticipants aren’t doing the best job of prescreeningfor successful e-support agents, either; only 16.4% ofrespondents said that their centers evaluate candidates’ writing skills via email early in the hiringprocess, and only 2.1% conduct text-chat screenings. Interestingly, the most-used prescreening method(resume/cover letter evaluations) is also the leasteffective, according to respondents (only 12.4% citedit as the “most effective/efficient” prescreening practice, and 40.1% cited it as the “least effective/efficient.”) This, however, is not a big surprise, for despitenot being the best indicator of new-hire success, mostcompanies must review applicant resumes/cover letters as part of their hiring process. Still and all, it’s areminder that centers should focus much more onphone and email/chat “presence” when determiningwho makes it to the later, more involved (and expensive) stages of the hiring process. (Live phone screenings were cited as the “most effective/efficient” prescreening tool by 60.1% of respondents.)The Assessment Phase The most common tool used to assess applicantswho make it past the prescreening phase is a traditional one: interviews with managers and supervisors(93.8%). Other assessment tools used — though notvery extensively — at respondents centers include: PCor Web-based skills/knowledge assessment tools/software (39.7%); interviews with senior/experiencedagents (35.6%); written (manual) skills/knowledgeassessment tests (27.3%); PC or Web-based attitude/motivation assessment tools/software (20.6%); jobsimulations via live role-plays (14.4%); written (manual) attitude/motivation assessment tests (13.4%); andjob simulation software (11.9%).The above findings are cause for some concern;while live interviews are certainly necessary, studieshave shown and experts agree that the most successfulcenters have a multihurdle hiring process in placewhere a variety of tools are used to help determineskills, motivation and job fit. The fact that a minorityof respondents are using today’s more advanced toolsand practices points to room for improvement.Call Center Recruiting and Hiring Practices Report 2

CALL CENTER RECRUITING AND HIRING PRACTICES REPORT Half (49%) of respondents indicated that theircenter uses some type of job preview tool/approach(such as a video of agents at work, a detailed tour ofthe call center, and/or job simulation software to helpgive agent candidates a clear picture of what life in thecall center — and, specifically, the agent job itself — isreally like.More centers would do themselves a great favor byutilizing formal job previews. Experts have found thatcomprehensive job previews enable candidates to better determine if they would enjoy working in such afast-paced and dynamic environment. Those whodecide that it’s not for them can deselect themselves,saving the call center thousands of dollars in furthertesting and training of somebody who is likely to quitsoon after taking the job. As Dr. Ruth Moskowitz, senior consultant with Advantage Hiring, says, “The hiring process has become a two-way exchange of information and a two-way decision-making process. A realistic job preview is used by many organizations to facilitate a healthy exchange between the applicant andthe organization. The bottomline result is a better fitbetween the new employee and the position. Better fitmeans more job satisfaction, less turnover and drasticreductions in hiring and replacement costs over thelong haul.”Top Recruiting and Hiring Challenges By far, the biggest recruiting/hiring challengeuncovered in the survey is continuously attractingqualified agent applicants to the call center — cited by73% of respondents as being “very challenging” or“moderately challenging.” Other common challengeslisted include: ensuring that candidates truly understand the nature of the agent position prior to accepting the job (30.6%); finding time and/or resources toeffectively prescreen job applicants (28.6%); gettinggood results from newspaper/print help wanted ads(26.5%); and accurately measuring how successfuleach recruiting method is (25%). Only 17.3% ofrespondents indicated that securing adequate budgetto support the center’s recruiting/hiring needs was aconsiderable challenge — evidence that more organizations now realize the critical role the call centerplays in driving lasting customer satisfaction and enterprisewide 2007 ICMI, a division of CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved.STUDY RESULTS The top five recruiting and hiring changes/improvements respondents plans to make in their callcenters within the next year are:1. More effectively measure (or start measuring)the success rate of each recruiting method(35.9%)2. Improve (or start using) ideal agent profiles tohelp in recruiting and assessing candidates(30.9%)3. Increase the number of quality applicant referrals received from existing agents (26.5%)4. Dedicate more time and/or resources to prescreening job applicants (26.5%)5. Improve (or start using) attitude/motivationassessment tests/tools (24.9%)Not only are most centers not currently using emailscreenings (as mentioned earlier) to help assess potential e-support agents, few (7.2%) have plans to startdoing so within the next year. Even fewer (4.4%) haveplans to tap the power of IVR technology in the nearfuture to help screen agent applicants — an approachthat, as previously mentioned, can help save time andeffort in evaluating job candidates.ConclusionToday’s call centers appear to be doing a lot ofthings right with regard to recruiting and hiring qualified agents; however, many have yet to implement andembrace some of the more advanced and progressivemethods that can help launch the center’s frontline tothe next echelon of customer support.While many centers use a healthy variety of recruiting methods to attract candidates (though are notdoing a great job of accurately measuring recruitingsuccess), few are doing all they can to effectively prescreen applicants and assess them thoroughly in thelatter hiring stages. Yes, most have the basics down,but could greatly enhance their hiring programs bytaking advantage of more strategic recruitingapproaches and robust tools/software designed tohelp assess candidates’ ability — and desire — to succeed in the dynamic call center environment.Among the specific things that many centers wouldbe wise to do in regard to their hiring programsinclude: targeting less traditional yet very viable laborpools such as mature workers and workers with disabilCall Center Recruiting and Hiring Practices Report 3

CALL CENTER RECRUITING AND HIRING PRACTICES REPORTities; offering a telework option to help extend therecruiting reach and attract “cream of the crop” candidates; using more comprehensive and realistic job previews; investing in dynamic IVR-based prescreeningsolutions; tapping job simulation software and automated skills assessment tools to help gauge potentialagents’ customer contact ability and knowledge; usingtests and tools specifically designed for determiningwhether agent candidates have the right psychologicalattributes and motivation for call center work; focus-STUDY RESULTSing more strongly on e-support skills (email/chat)when screening and assessing agent candidates.It is evident that call center professionals realizewhat it takes to create and sustain a powerful hiringprogram, and that most organizations recognize theimportance of and fully support the center’s mission;now the centers themselves must utilize more progressive tactics to attract the kind of people who have theability to dazzle customers and the drive to do so foryears to come. nThe Contact Center Agent of the Future: HowCall Centers and Agents’ Jobs Are ChangingCall center jobs are evolving due to shifts in the business environment, and the traditional agent success profile is becoming obsolete.lobalization. Rapid changes intechnology. Business mergers andacquisitions. Flatter organizations.Increasingly complex products. Moredemanding customers. These andother business trends are changing thevery nature of the work agents will do— and the skills they will need — asthe future unfolds. Agent work isevolving as it adjusts to:GMALCOLM MCCULLOCHMalcolm McCulloch, Ph.D., is a seniorresearch consultant at LIMRA International. He is an industrial/organizational psychologist who specializes instaffing issues within the contact centerindustry. He can be reached at 860-2983905 or CHANGEUnlike the past, where call centerwork was marked by structure and routine, the defining characteristic of workin future centers will be continuouschange.Does this example from the insurance industry sound familiar? A callcenter services its company’s simpleterm insurance product line. A competitor acquires the company and addsnew life insurance and annuity products to the mix. The agent workforce isdownsized 30 percent and those whoremain must support the entire product line and use the acquiring 2007 ICMI, a division of CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved.ny’s legacy system. Then the companymerges with yet another financial services company. The center’s workforce isnot reduced this time, but now theagents must also service disability andlong-term care insurance. This meansmore products to learn and new typesof consumers to s

Call Center Recruiting and Hiring Practices Report1 CALL CENTER RECRUITING AND HIRING PRACTICES REPORT STUDY RESULTS South/Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia/ Pacific Rim, the Middle East, and Africa. Recruiting Practices The five most common agent recruiting methods tha

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