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#ICMIchat Insight: 47 Contact Center Hiring Best Practices

New year, new budget, new hires? Many of our community members plan to staff up in 2017, so we devoted our latest #ICMIchat to contact center hiring best practices. Participants shared their advice for attracting top talent, writing better job descriptions, using culture to fuel recruiting, and more!  Below are some of the highlights. For a full transcript, head to our Storify recap. For deeper insight, join us at Contact Center Expo & Conference.

Question: How can the contact center make jobs more appealing to talented candidates?

Let’s face it. Roles in the contact center don’t involve glitz and glamour. Many still consider customer service roles “entry-level.”  How can the contact center shake this reputation and attract and recruit top talent? Here’s what our chat participants said:

Contact Center Hiring Advice 

  • Make sure the role is part of strategic projects. Show your company cares about customer service.
  • Remove the grade-school components of schedule adherence. Treat your employees like adults.
  • Define career tracks. Demonstrate opportunities for growth.
  • Offer autonomy. Show your agents you trust their decision-making skills.
  • Make the job more appealing to the employees you already have. They’ll become your ambassadors.
  • Offer greatness in flexibility, benefits, compensation, training, resources, and culture.
  • Rewrite your job descriptions and improve the onboarding process.
  • Communicate the value that contact center jobs bring.
  • Be clear about what the role entails. Offer a job preview if possible.
  • Implement pay-for-performance incentives, and accommodate preferences in schedules/shifts.
  • Frame your jobs as professional positions that require expert skills, not as grunt work/entry-level positions.

Question: What are the components of a great job description?

Before you ever begin the hiring process, it’s important to draft a job description. Without a careful roadmap for success, prospects won’t know if the position is a good fit, and new employees won’t know where to focus their time. Here are a few tips for crafting the perfect job description:

Contact Center Hiring Advice
  • Avoid corporate jargon and provide a tight description of requirements, deadlines, and responsibilities.
  • Show right away why your company is unique—be consistent with brand voice.
  • Set clear expectations and outline tangible responsibilities.
  • Convey value, roles, and responsibilities in one page or less.
  • Provide an honest snapshot of daily tasks and responsibilities, as well as details on future learning and growth opportunities.

Question: What’s the most effective way to approach recruiting in 2017?

Not so long ago, job seekers perused the classified section of the local newspaper to find the next opportunity. How times have changed! Which recruiting techniques work best in the modern workplace? Here’s how #ICMIchat participants approach recruiting:

  • Include customer service representatives in the recruiting process. Find the ones who are passionate about your mission, then enlist their help.
  • Recruit internally!
  • Focus on creating an inviting company culture, then ask your employees to invite others to be part of that culture.
  • Step one: make sure your hiring profile is right.
  • Coordinate on-site job fairs so you can screen more effectively.
  • Approach recruiting with an open mind. Don’t assume the old way is the only way. Leverage social media, your culture, and your current employees.
  • Attract the right candidates by using the right language and tone.

Question: What should the interview process for a new contact center agent look like?

One of the most critical components of the hiring process is the interview. While there’s no one size fits all approach, here are some ways other contact center leaders approach the interview process for a new agent:

  • For email, chat, and social agents: gather an authentic writing sample.
  • Make sure your interview reflects your company culture. Ensure a right fit from the start.
  • Include shadow time in the interview. Allow candidates to experience the role first-hand.
  • Incorporate skills assessment, phone conversations, interviews with leadership, and interviews with peers.
  • Conduct a second interview with scenario based contacts. Score for creativity.

Question: What are the most important qualities/skills you look for when hiring an agent?

We’ve already established that contact center jobs are no longer entry level. Managing customer contacts requires a special set of skills—especially as the complexity of interactions continues to increase. These are the qualities and skills #ICMIchat participants look for when hiring contact center agents:

Contact Center Hiring Advice

  • Cultural fit. A dynamic and kind personality. The ability to learn complex things quickly.
  • Someone who’s software-positive and software-agnostic. Some who likes the tools of the trade.
  • Someone a customer would enjoy talking to.
  • Active listening skills and excellent communication.
  • Positive attitude, critical thinker, eager to learn.
  • Reasonable, friendly, willing to learn.
  • Self-awareness and self-control.

Question: How can you determine if new hires will be a good cultural fit?

The term “cultural fit” is appearing on more and more job postings, but what does it really mean?  Is there a formula for determining whether or not a candidate fits the culture of your company? Here are a few tips to help take the guesswork out of the evaluation process:

  • Design the interview and hiring process around your culture.
  • Ask questions that aren’t work-related.
  • Make sure candidates meet multiple members of the team.
  • Invite candidates to have lunch with the team. Let the team provide input on hiring.
  • Observe how they respond to behaviors that reflect your typical office environment.
  • Include icebreaker questions in the interview.  See how they reply to off the wall questions.

Question: What’s the most valuable hiring lesson you’ve ever learned?

As with any other aspect of contact center management, hiring best practices evolve, but there will also be universal lessons that apply. We asked our #ICMIchat participants to share their time-tested advice. Here’s what they said:

Contact Center Hiring

  • Consider attitude, aptitude, and fit.
  • Learn from your mistakes. You’ll hire and onboard better with practice.
  • Be patient. Aim for internal referrals. Learn what candidates and employees are interested in outside of work.
  • Identify the traits you’re seeking, create criteria to match those, then deploy, test, refine, and redo.
  • Always have agents do a script read before you offer them the job.
  • Remember: candidates are always extremely well behaved in interview situations. Get a second opinion.

Are you hiring this year? Comment below and tell us about your challenges and successes! Next week we’ll discuss onboarding in the contact center. Join us on Tuesday at 1pm ET. Just use and follow our hashtag (#ICMIchat) to participate.