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Ideas to Attract, Select and Retain High Performing Agents for the Small Contact Center

If you operate a smaller contact center, you are faced with many of the same hurdles as your larger compatriots, but you also have some unique challenges that typically aren’t seen at a larger scale. For instance, your daily operations requires a defter hand on the tiller as relatively small changes in call volumes, schedule adherence, and goal attainment have a much greater impact than in larger centers. You are probably still strongly incented to deliver an exceptional customer experience, measured against CSAT or NPS, and held to FCR targets. You just have fewer people to do that with.

Hiring and retaining talented agents is one area where you need to be particularly creative. After all, one exceptional hire can have a big impact on your key performance metrics. And it goes without saying that a single dud can sink your battleship! You have little room for error, so each hiring decision is more important than it is for much larger operations and you therefore need to have the right foundation in place to attract, select and retain top talent. Let’s take a look at a few of the top considerations for attracting and keeping top performers in your center.

If you’re on a tight operational budget, you will probably have to create some justification for adding additional headcount. If you have too few people, you are probably struggling to meet your service level objectives, so this is an obvious place to start. The math is pretty straightforward and you probably have ready access to all the data you need. Your CSAT, FCR and sales conversion metrics can also be helpful in building the argument for more folks. The calculus here is a little more complex in that you’ll need to correlate an improvement in key metrics with the added headcount. Of course, your CFO will most likely want to see that the economic benefit of the improvement is greater than the cost of additional staff.

You probably don’t have the luxury of a team of recruiters that can spend their days posting jobs, vetting resumes, conducting interviews and extending job offers. If you’re like most, much of this recruiting burden falls on the shoulders of your managers and supervisors running your center. As if they didn’t already have enough to do!

Look for innovative ways to advertise your open positions and make it easy for interested candidates to apply for them. [Tweet this] Posting your jobs on your corporate website is inexpensive, but candidates have to know how to look for your jobs in order to find them. Job boards expand your reach, but they cost more and competition for a candidate’s attention is much higher.

Make the early candidate-screening step as quick and easy as possible for the candidate and for your team. Technology can be a big help to you here. Online, web-based virtual interviewing uses interactive voice response technology to record candidate responses to a series of job-related questions. Your team reviews those responses in much the same was as they review recorded calls for QA purposes. It’s quick, easy, time-efficient, and effective.

Of course you have selected new hires that possess the right technical, communication, language and critical thinking skills to help you meet your objectives. Cultural fit is a bit more important than in large centers. In small centers, there’s less “organizational insulation,” if you will, that can absorb someone who doesn’t quite fit in. A toxic hire can quickly poison the well and drag down your whole team. And don’t think your customers won’t notice.

An area of significant organizational research in recent years has centered on the relationship of emotions and emotional intelligence on work performance, work team dynamics and business outcomes and concluded:

  • Members of a workgroup who exhibit similar emotional disposition demonstrate higher customer service performance and lower absenteeism;
  • A workgroup consisting of members with significantly divergent affect tends to exhibit greater friction, more absenteeism, less cooperation and reduced business performance;
  • Leaders literally set the tone for their workgroups – their positive emotions are strongly correlated to higher customer service performance;
  • Emotions are “contagious” and an employee’s disposition can be detected by customers, resulting in service quality evaluations that reflect that disposition – both positive and negative.

Smaller call centers need to be more nimble and adept at attracting, selecting, and retaining skilled agent talent. You can get ahead of the game by innovating your recruiting and hiring process.