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5 Tips to Source and Recruit Exceptional Agents

Every employee’s journey with your company starts with his or her recruitment. Whether they learn about your employment opportunities from your careers page, a job board, or an ad on a social media site, job candidates form their first impression of your company based on how it’s presented in those media. Just as you strive to provide an exceptional customer experience in every interaction, you should endeavor to do the same during your agent recruitment process.

In today’s fast-paced, information-rich age, customers are better informed than ever before and their expectations for service delivery are higher. 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. Your sourcing and recruitment strategies need to be developed with this in mind.

Here are five ideas that are proven to improve agent recruitment and deliver superior operational performance results.

Use technology

Effective agent recruiting is largely a numbers game – you need to attract a large number (relative to your overall agent population) of job candidates and action them quickly based on the pending training class schedule. Furthermore, organizational research indicates that a candidate’s perception of the recruiting process can have a positive and negative effect.

Here’s where technology can be your friend. Virtual interviewing – 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. This provides the dual benefit of giving the candidate some sense of control over his or her recruitment while trimming many days off the critical “time-to-hire” interval.

Write realistic job postings

I often see job postings that detail a long list of requirements that job seekers must meet for consideration. Often times, these requirements contain corporate boilerplate for knowledge, skills and abilities that may not be relevant to a call center job.

Here’s where you really need to partner with your talent acquisition business partners to ensure: 1) your absolute minimum requirements are clearly stated; and 2) the job posting isn’t filled with gratuitous prerequisites that have little bearing on a candidate’s likelihood of success – do your agents really need to have a Bachelor’s degree?

Fish where the fish are

Many job seekers may know that they are looking for a contact center job, but they just don’t know about YOUR jobs. Your careers page and commercial job boards are great places to be found by candidates actively looking for jobs, but will miss the passive applicant.

Some of your best candidates come from the ranks of your existing customers – they know your brand; are loyal; and have the passion necessary to champion your brand. Attract these candidates in the social circles they are likely to frequent: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and others. You’re likely to find passive job candidates there who would not otherwise respond to another online job posting.

Ask the right questions

Structure your screening and assessment process to discover which candidates are most likely to succeed against the measures that are most relevant to your business. If you’re in sales, screen for likelihood for sales success such as sales conversion, persuasion, and objection handling. If you’re in customer care, ask questions that are likely to uncover empathy, caring, sincerity and problem solving.

Successful agents are often those who possess excellent language, communication and critical thinking skills. Develop your interviewing protocol to enable the candidate to highlight these attributes. Furthermore, dispense with superfluous behavioral, cognitive, personality of skills assessments that don’t directly impact job performance.

Measure the impact

Are you hiring just to fill a seat in a class or to help the broader organization perform at its best? You might think this question is a bit silly, but I often hear complaints that the former might be closer to the truth. Here’s where operations and the talent acquisition teams really need to work together to ensure the broader business goals are met, presuming those are important to you.

If CSAT is a key performance measure, then link that business outcome back to the screening and interviewing process. Identify the pre-hire tools that have a meaningful impact on this goal and develop your process to support those goals. The same holds true with sales conversion, tenure, FCR, etc. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Attracting, selecting, and retaining motivated, skilled agents who possess the right skills is critical for your company to achieve its objectives. Training and coaching can’t fix a bad hire. A well-defined recruiting process helps to ensure you select the right employees from the start.