Call Center Hiring Featured Article
Screening and Assessing Contact Center Agents for Productivity: FurstPerson
April 26, 2011
By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor
Contact center productivity begins with recruiting and assessing the right agents that best fits the jobs. That’s where FurstPerson comes in; it supplies a wide array of long-proven hiring solutions.
To get insights on agent screening and assessment trends and issues TMCnet recently interviewed Chris Van Landuyt who is FurstPerson’s director, research and development.
TMCnet: What trends are you seeing that are affecting contact center productivity both positive and negative and what are the drivers?
CVL: Technology developments have boosted productivity over the last few years. This is a pro and a con in and of itself. Dashboard software and phone systems have streamlined the job and increased the scope of capabilities for an individual agent, but these changes have also drastically increased the complexity of the job. As such, our research has found that screening applicants for the right skills and abilities up front has become much more important. New agents must be able to embrace technology tools, and quickly learn complex details about how to navigate several systems quickly and efficiently. Great agents can embrace technology, and also possess the unique personal characteristics and motivation to excel in a contact center environment.
TMCnet: Briefly outline how does your solution (s) and which ones specifically directly boost contact center productivity? Do you have any benchmark results? What is the payback period?
CVL: Pre-employment screening helps companies identify those applicants who are most likely to be productive. For example, our suite of CC Audition simulations helps identify applicants with strong computer skills, accuracy and multitasking abilities. Our 1stSolve assessment targets applicants who can solve complex problems, learn quickly and think on their feet. Our 1stScreen assessment measures characteristics that are often job-specific (e.g. stress tolerance, dependability and service orientation).
Benchmarking results include:
* 1.4 million more first calls resolved and 246,000 hours fewer average handle time (AHT) per year at large wireless provider
* 15 percent growth in revenue-per-hour in telecommunications sales at large outsourcer
* 20 percent increase in calls per hour (CPH) for care and technical support at major communications client
* 14 percent increase in account activation ratio at major communications client
* 46 percent reduction in 0–90 day attrition across a large wireless provider
We expect our clients to see an approximate $8 to $20 annualized return for each dollar spent on our solution.
TMCnet: What new or enhanced solutions have you come out with in the past year or will be rolling out this year that will increase productivity and if so how?
CVL: We have two new simulations in our CC Audition suite, both building on the core CCA dimensions of computer ability, accuracy and multitasking, which are critical to all contact center positions. CCA Talk & Note incorporates live audio capture and free form account note entry to help refine the measurement of certain types of communication and technical skills. CCA Sales simulates inbound sales calls, and is designed to target the probing, persuasion and negotiation skills critical for these types of roles.
Our 1stScreen personality assessment targets core characteristics that can help determine job fit. Characteristics such as service orientation, stress tolerance, achievement and detail-orientation can be just as pivotal to an employee’s success as harder skills like keyboarding or computer ability. They can impact an employee’s productivity, satisfaction and/or intent to leave the company.
TMCnet: What caveats if any are there in deploying screening tools that if not properly installed or used could negatively impact other areas of contact center operations e.g. agent burnout and churn, legislative compliance?
CVL: The decision to implement a pre-employment assessment process should be couched in the context of the overall health and stability of a given contact center. Often, the process for implementation includes assessing current employees, and then using statistical analysis to determine which skills and characteristics really distinguish between top and bottom performers. However, in centers where the culture is dysfunctional, simply cloning those top performers who have found a way to still remain effective (often despite, but sometimes because of the dysfunctional culture) can exacerbate the larger problem at hand.
The culture in a center should be optimized to allow agents to succeed. Because of risks like this, we approach each of our consulting engagements holistically, and help make recommendations for how to structure human capital interventions that will work together, rather than intensifying any existing issues.
TMCnet: What are the best practices that you recommend in setting up and using assessment solutions to boost productivity?
CVL: We do not recommend or offer “off the shelf” assessment solutions. Instead, we customize each implementation to client specifications. To do so, we partner with the client to collect various types of data directly from the organization. This helps us understand the knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics required to perform the jobs of interest. It also assists us to determine which assessments (and for some assessments, which particular scales or scoring configurations) will most closely target the key performance indicators for those jobs.
Although this means that you cannot turn a FurstPerson implementation on in a day, it also means that the unique assessment battery and scoring profile for your job will integrate information about your center, applicant flow and agents, and the performance metrics most important to you. This approach maximizes your ROI, and also conforms to the relevant legal and regulatory guidelines that govern employee selection in the U.S.
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Chris DiMarco
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