Published: June 04, 2014 | Comments
A customer’s first – and often lasting – impression is formed by their interaction with your customer service professionals (CSPs). They form the image of your brand in your customer’s mind and the quality of those interactions is reflected in the results of your Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the extensive use of self-service technologies, call volumes remain robust and the role of the CSP in delivering a satisfying customer experience is more important than ever before. Customers are better informed about their options well before they engage with a CSP and those interactions are more complex, requiring higher-level agent skills. It’s no longer sufficient to hire agents who can merely read a script and operate a computer simultaneously.
Agents today need to have exceptional service, communication, language, and critical thinking skills in order to deliver an outstanding customer experience. Training and coaching can help refine many of these necessary skills, but recruiting agents who already possess these attributes will yield better results faster.
Here are five ideas to build a successful VOC program by improving the CSP attraction, selection, and retention process.
Make it easy. Many companies follow a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to new employee recruitment, regardless of the position to be filled. This often subjects candidates to a series of lengthy and time-consuming assessments that may have little bearing on their ability to perform well in the job and can make it difficult for those who are already working to be considered for these open positions.
Virtual interviewing technology – an online, cloud-based software application that records candidate responses to a series of job-relevant questions – can be used immediately after candidates submit their applications. The “always-on, always-available” nature of this software means that a candidate can complete a virtual interview at any time, even when your recruiting team isn’t working. Rather than spend their time as glorified outbound telemarketers spending unproductive hours trying to reach candidates to conduct telephone screens, recruiters merely review previously recorded candidate interviews.
Make it fast. Once a prospective CSP successfully completes the initial stages of the application and assessment process, it can still take several weeks to finally receive a job offer and get scheduled for training. Consider that many candidates may be applying for other jobs and are likely to take the first one that comes along, even if it isn’t ideal. Therefore, the longer it takes your organization to move a candidate through your recruiting process, the more it dilutes the quality of your hiring pool.
Compressing steps to only those that are essential to determine candidate quality and the use of technology can help dramatically reduce time-to-hire. Companies that use virtual interviewing technologies eliminate much of the unproductive time that’s associated with conducting live, recruiter-led telephone interviews.
Cast a broader net. By expanding the size of your potential CSP hiring pool, you introduce more candidates into the attraction and selection process. This means more high-quality candidates are available for you to act on. You may already be posting your open positions on your careers page and job boards, like Monster and CareerBuilder. But don’t overlook other channels as well.
Some of the best CSP candidates can come from the ranks of your existing customers – they know your brand; are loyal; and may have the skills necessary to champion your brand with others. Attract these candidates in the social circles they are likely to frequent: social media channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn. You’re likely to find passive job candidates who would not otherwise respond to a job posting.
Link key job outcomes. Despite the use of personality, cognitive, behavioral, and skills assessments that are commonly used in the pre-hiring phase of the agent lifecycle, these are not necessarily the best forward-looking indicators of excellent performance. A process that identifies employees who are already excellent performers and discovering the characteristics they displayed during the pre-hire phase of their lifecycle has delivered excellent results in terms of CSP tenure and performance. This information is used to form a predictive model by which future candidates can be assessed.
Innovations in computing, specifically in machine learning and predictive analytics, can effectively link how a candidate performs during the recruiting process with how that person is likely to perform “on the floor,” if hired. By collecting pre-hire interview and assessment results from all candidates and then monitoring their tenure and performance during their employment, accurate and reliable models can be developed that aid in automatically identifying future candidates that are likely to excel. As more data are collected, these models improve thereby increasing their value.
Match candidate to the job. Recent industry research indicates that a leading driver of poor performance, substandard customer satisfaction, and attrition – especially early in a new hire’s tenure – is a poor match between the candidate’s abilities and the requirements of the job. Significant organizational behavior research concludes that employee emotions play a critical role in employees’ relationships and performance. This notion of “emotional affect” influences critical organizational outcomes such as job performance, decision making, turnover, teamwork, and leadership and can be easily measured through the use of audio analytics technologies.
Every job type has a unique emotional fingerprint. For example, CSPs who are energetic and enthusiastic tend to perform better in sales roles; CSPs who are relaxed and calm tend to perform well in customer service and technical support roles. Applying this technology allows job applicants to be matched to the job best suited for them, resulting in exceptional performance.
Final word. As contact centers continue to adopt VOC results as a leading measure of agent and company performance, employing well-trained, motivated, skilled CSPs who possess outstanding service, communication, language and critical thinking skills will take on increasing importance. Innovative companies have adopted new strategies and advanced technologies to transform their hiring processes to attract, select, and retain CSPs that are capable of delivering on this promise.
Want more advice on building succesful VOC programs? Join us for a complimentary webinar on July 10 at 1pm ET. You'll hear from Kevin, as well as contact center leaders from Wells Fargo and Oppenheimer Funds.