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Four Key Attributes of Successful Call Center Agents

Despite dire predictions that self-service will render the call center agent obsolete, the opposite is true.  Call center employment continues to grow at a healthy clip.  According to recent research published by leading industry thinker Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research, the U.S. call center industry added nearly 52,000 new jobs.  Some of this growth is attributable to the staffing of health insurance exchange contact centers as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but much of it is industry growth.

However, the impact of self-service skills and competencies that today’s agents must possess is undeniable.  Customers are better informed than ever before with more resources at their disposal to research alternative... Read more »

What Drives the Exceptional Customer Experience?

Leading customer feedback insights analyst firm, CFI Group, recently published its Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CSSI) for 2013 (download the report here).  The results should be a wake-up call for call centers everywhere.  2013 saw an 8-point drop in the CSSI from its high of 77 in 2012 to a record low of 69 in 2013.  While there's probably no need to hit the panic switch just yet, it's equally clear that consumers' expectations of call center services have outpaced their ability to deliver.

Other industry research suggests that up to 88% of customer interactions are handled by an agent at some point.  Furthermore, interactions have become more complex and today's consumers tend to be more informed - they often... Read more »

How to Hire Better than Amazon

A recent blog post by leading venture firm OpenView Venture Partners opines about the value of Amazon's cross-team interviewing strategy (find it here: http://blog.openviewpartners.com/hire-like-amazon-cross-team-interviewing/).  While it identifies several advantages, it also suggests a number downsides to this approach.  The fact is, virtual interviewing technology can make this a win-win and neutralize all the disadvantages of identified in this piece while supporting all the advantages.

Time Commitment.  Virtual interviewing is time and cost efficient.  In the time it takes to conduct one telephone or in-person interview, as many as ten or more virtual interviews can be reviewed and evaluated.  Furthermore, virtual... Read more »

Stop Thinking about Virtual Interviewing - Do It!

Here in the greater metro Atlanta area, we're being pummeled by another winter storm (this one named "Pax" I think), that threatens to bring the area to a standstill yet again.  People will be stuck at home, businesses will close, or operate in "virtual" mode, until things get back to normal.  Just because the weather gets nasty doesn't mean that your recruiting needs to be put on hold.

Recruiting can be tough even under the best of circumstances.  When asked, "what is the worst part of your job?" many recruiters respond that they are perceived to be glorified telemarketers, spending their days calling applicants and pitching the job and company.  Companies rarely, if ever, fund a recruiting team that's large enough to... Read more »

Speed to Hire as a Competitive Advantage

Speed to hire is a competitive advantage.  This is especially true in the fast-moving world of customer service operations such as a call center and retail in which turnover is an acute issue and companies are in near-constant hiring mode. 

With few exceptions, candidates looking for jobs in these industries are likely to settle for a job with any company.  It’s not that they don’t care about who employs them.  It’s just that, in many cases, these candidates have an urgent need for employment and are more likely to accept the first offer that comes their way.   This is a prime example of “if you snooze, you lose.”

Therefore, engaging them early, moving them through your hiring process swiftly, and extending a job offer... Read more »

Agent Recruitment is a Key Component of Contact Center Workforce Optimization

Leading industry analyst firm, Gartner, Inc. has released its latest Magic Quadrant for contact center workforce optimization (WFO) technologies and, for the first time, acknowledges agent recruitment as a key component to a robust WFO strategy.  The synergies between exceptional agent recruitment and WFO are obvious.  Workforce optimization is largely about making sure that the best, properly-skilled agents are available to deliver an excellent customer experience.  Agent recruitment technologies enable companies to quickly assess and hire agents who possess the right combination of communication and technical skills coupled with appropriate customer service orientation. 

While recruitment technologies have often been the... Read more »