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How to Avoid the 10 Customer Service Worst Practices

Delivering an exceptional customer experience often means that several disparate elements need to come together perfectly – people, process and technology need to work together seamlessly. Yet it often takes only one thing to go wrong to make the whole customer experience unravel.

Customer experience guru Micah Solomon recently wrote about the 10 All-time Worst Customer Service Practices in which he opines on the most egregious breaches of the customer service protocol. Several relate to defects in process; others address failures in technology; but most reveal shortcomings in the human element of the customer experience equation.

The American Customer Service Index, a national cross-industry measure of customer... Read more »

Predicting the Best Candidates: Big Data v. Crystal Ball

Last month I was intrigued by a blog published in Harvard Business Review (“In Hiring, Algorithms Beat Instinct”) that declared, “Humans are very good at specifying what’s needed for a position and eliciting information from candidates – but they’re very bad at weighing the results.”

This conclusion was based on analysis conducted by Brian S. Connelly, Nathan R. Kuncel, David M. Klieger and Deniz S. Ones. They performed 17 different studies of applicant evaluations. It turned out that a simple equation beat gut feel by a significant 25% – whether the candidates were being interviewed for front-line positions, middle management or the C suite.

Obviously there’s need for a person’s judgment at some point in a fair and... Read more »

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 »