7 Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring Contact Center Employees

Posted 4 weeks ago by
Hiring Contact Center Employees

Shockingly, contact center attrition rates can be as high as 44%.

If you work in this industry, you may have had an inkling this was the case.

But, even if your employee turnover rate isn’t that high, you’ll appreciate how expensive hiring new employees are.

This begs the question: How do you hire workers for your contact center who stand the test of time?

If you’re searching for the answer to this, you’re in the right place because we’re going to outline seven mistakes to avoid while hiring contact center employees.

Ready to get started? Let’s get to it!

What’s in?

  1. Mismanaging job expectations
  2. Not being able to answer candidates’ questions
  3. Failing to focus on long-term hires
  4. Not assessing candidates for predictive characteristics
  5. Forgetting to promote employee wellness
  6. Insufficient onboarding
  7. Ignoring exit interviews

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1. Mismanaging job expectations

Working in a contact center is often stressful. More often than not, it requires shift work, the tasks are monotonous, and the pay, well, it isn’t always great.

This really isn’t a pretty picture.

In light of these drawbacks, it can be tempting to sugarcoat the realities of the job– especially if you’re short on staff. But as appealing as this is, don’t do it.

Trust us, you’ll regret it.

Mismanaged job expectations often lead to early turnovers of staff. Instead, be honest about the job — both the good and bad aspects of it. That way, employees know what to expect and won’t feel disillusioned after working a couple of months with you.

Work Expectations MismanagementAnother half is left with unclear expectations, which causes them to disengage quickly, as well as become less productive.


2. Not being able to answer candidates’ questions 

There are tons of questions a candidate might ask throughout the recruitment process. For instance, what’s the company culture like? What’s the management style? What are the growth opportunities?

You need to prepare yourself to be able to answer these kinds of questions. If you can’t, you’re less likely to convince the candidate to work for you.

The solution to this potential pitfall is to swot up on the history, values, and policies of your company. You could also do a quick Google search for ‘frequently asked questions by job candidates.’ That way, you can prepare suitable answers in advance.


3. Failing to focus on long-term hires

If you need to fill a role urgently, you might be inclined to hire the first acceptable candidate. Sometimes you might be lucky enough to bag a model applicant right off the bat, but on the whole, this recruitment method usually leads to bad hires.

Consequently, you’re looking at early contact center attrition, which then forces you to repeat the entire process. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat common for employees to leave their contact center jobs within 90 days (or less).

So instead, hire with long-term retention in mind. 

You want to focus your energy on hiring candidates that will stay with you for the long haul. This should also result in better customer service, so it really is a win-win!

After all, how can you hope to muster a team of competent agents if the majority of staff are still learning the ropes? With the bulk of ‘learners’ on your staff roster, it’s near-on impossible to enhance the quality of your customer service.

Needless to say, it stands to reason that employees with more on-the-job experience have the know-how to do their jobs justice.

In light of that, focusing on long-term hires is an absolute must. Make sure to assess your candidates’ organizational fit. Candidates whose values and beliefs match your company culture are more likely to stay with your organization longer.

Company Fit Vs RetentionPeople who fit your organization (and vice versa) are more likely to stick with you. That’s why you should consider adding a cultural fit assessment into your hiring process.


4. Not assessing candidates for
predictive characteristics

Your contact center employees need specific characteristics and skills to succeed in their job. These include hallmarks like stress resistance and management, excellent communication skills, dependability, etc. 

Take time to determine which attributes and talents correlate with high-performing agents. Then assess candidates for these specific traits. 

One of the easiest ways to do this is by giving candidates a personality questionnaire. This helps provide a more in-depth understanding of the kind of person the applicant is. You can quickly see whether they possess the necessary qualities to succeed in your vacancy.

But, don’t just dish out any old personality test.

You’ll want to use one that’s been scientifically verified. This is the only way to get an accurate overview of the personality of the candidate. HEXACO model-based tests are usually pretty reliable.

They assess six significant factors of our character, including:

  1. Honesty-humility
  2. Emotional intelligence
  3. Extraversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Conscientiousness
  6. Openness to experience.

The process is simple.

Candidates have to complete a series of statements. They then have to say how much they agree or disagree. 

Once they’ve finished, you can see where they sit on a scale that combines these six different hallmarks. 

Needless to say, you can set benchmarks for the talents you’re looking for, then compare how candidates measure up. For instance, a prospect that scores well for conscientiousness and emotional intelligence would probably be an asset to your team!

The state of diversity recruiting in 2019 and beyond

Defining the path that corporate diversity and inclusion will follow in the near future, The State of Diversity Recruiting white paper dives into relevant emerging trends and discusses example cases throughout every stage of the recruitment funnel.


5. Forgetting to promote employee wellness

If you fail to show candidates you care about your employees, convincing them to work for you (over your competitors) becomes a challenge.

So, tell and show them how your company makes workers feel appreciated. Think about what you do to create a healthy workplace and communicate that to candidates.

For instance, do you offer healthcare benefits? A meditation room? Subsidized fitness memberships? Do you do anything to promote financial wellness?

If you’re reading this and thinking; ‘wait a minute, we don’t offer anything like this to our employees’, this needs to change. 

Appreciation is a fundamental human need. You can’t expect to courier loyalty if you’re not showing or communicating that you value the job your workers do.

In a recent study, as little as one in three American workers received recognition for their work performance in the past seven days! 

The stats speak for themselves, workers who feel undervalued are twice as likely to say they’ll quit their job during the next year. It stands to reason, recognition confirms to employees they’re valued at work. Consequently, they’re more likely to be productive and remain loyal to your brand. 

Here are a few other things you can do to promote employee wellness:

Ensure managers show enthusiasm

There’s nothing that annoys contact center agents more than a leadership team obnoxiously lording over them.

Unfortunately, contact center managers have a reputation for being arrogant. It’s time to break free of this misconception, and the easiest way to achieve that is by ensuring managers are enthusiastic and committed to their work.

Can you imagine anything more grating than a supervisor thinking they’re too good to complete simple tasks? They don’t stand a chance of gaining the respect of their employees! 

Needless to say, that without respect, the team starts to fall apart, communication crumbles, and motivation will be at an all-time low.

Instead, managers need to be real with their teams. Talk to them — tell them what’s on your mind. Be present, don’t shut yourself away in your office from nine to five. In short, although you’re in charge of the team, don’t set yourself apart from them. Get involved, you’ll be amazed at what a difference this makes to staff morale!

Engaged ManagersEngagement of the managers is extremely important for employee engagement. Motivated managers can really make a difference to your bottom line.


Brighten things up

It may sound trivial, but nothing quashes happiness quicker than a dull, dirty, working environment. So, make sure offices look fresh and are kept clean. This goes a long way in promoting wellness in the workplace.

As we’ve already said, contact center work is often tedious. People get bored of sitting at their desks and staring at tatty carpets, and scuffed walls really aren’t going to help with that.

A couple of indoor plants and a splash of color would soon cheer the place up! 


Invest in training

Contact centers with inadequate training have agents that lack confidence. Period. 

Providing training to employees not only helps boost morale, but they’re also an asset when it comes to training new employees.

Top Tip: Training isn’t a one-off thing; instead, it’s an ongoing process. It doesn’t matter whether an employee has worked a couple of minutes or a couple of years; make it a priority to provide workers with professional development continually. People want to know how to make their lives easier, so do that for them. It also communicates that you care about your workers because you’re investing time and money into helping them succeed.


Start complimenting employees

Although humans are creatures of habit, we tire of doing the same thing day in and day out. When we get bored with our work, we start to question whether the job’s the right fit.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

This is where compliments come into their own. 

By positively reinforcing the behavior of your employees, you’ll help them stay engaged with their work. You give them a sense of purpose that drives them to excel.

An acknowledgment of their efforts and achievements costs you nothing and could save tons of money by improving staff turnover rates.

The same principle applies to saying ‘thank you.’ Just like giving compliments, a simple ‘thanks; goes a long way.

No one likes to listen to customers grumble, complain, and on occasion, get verbally abusive. This is what agents deal with all day, every day. So, when they go over and above to meet your client’s needs, ensure you thank them.

Top Tip: Go the extra mile by dishing out handwritten thank you notes at the end of each month. List a few things that each specific employee has done over the last few weeks and communicate your gratitude.

Again, this cost next-to-nothing and works wonders for demonstrating how much you value your employees.


Provide workers with better tools

It almost goes without saying, your workers are only as good as the resources you provide them with. 

This means taking a look at both the software and hardware you’re utilizing and ask yourself the necessary questions.

Are you using an integration that allows agents to respond as quickly and effectively as possible? Is your internet connection strong enough to enable workers to do the job justice? Are you using the right communication apps to keep everyone on the same page?

Evaluate the current state of your tools and see what you can do to improve things. Not only will this boost the quality of your customer service, but it’s easier for workers to take pride in their work. Again, promoting a healthy sense of self-esteem is the key to boosting team morale. 


6. Insufficient onboarding

A well-thought-out onboarding program is your chance to show new contact center employees what your company is all about. It’s also an excellent opportunity to highlight what their job role entails, and most importantly, a time to make them feel welcome. 

If you neglect this period, you risk employees quitting early.

Start by compiling a new hire checklist to ensure you’re not forgetting anything your starters need to know/have and bear in mind that employee onboarding goes well beyond showing the newbies around the office and giving the introductory training.

Contact Centers Initial TrainingA thorough onboarding process helps reduce early employee turnover and promotes culture of continuous learning.


7. Ignoring exit interviews

If you’re not conducting exit interviews, start now. 

And if you do, but you’re not analyzing the results, you’re wasting precious time and resources.

Exit interviews are often viewed as ‘too little, too late’ by the majority of contact center managers. If you fall into this category, we challenge you to adjust your perception.

Instead, see them as a new beginning. 

With the info you glean from exit interviews, you’ll learn about issues that might have otherwise remained unknown to you. It also brings to your attention any mistakes you and your team may have accidentally made.

Within minutes you’ll know what to improve and how to avoid these mishaps.

See this as your final opportunity to understand the thoughts and feelings of your departing agents.

So, focus on drilling down to the crux of the problems…however uncomfortable that might be for you. This means also figuring out any actionable steps you and your management team can undertake to improve things. 

You don’t have to wait until employees quit to interview them. It’s important to gather employee feedback every few months or so. This comes in handy for identifying problems before they spiral out of control, and your staff begins to leave!

Cue, pulse surveys.

These kinds of questionnaires focus on gathering data about what your workers think and feel about their work. Best of all, you have the freedom to ask more granular questions. This is imperative for deciphering the nitty-gritty of what you need to improve.

Acting On Exit Interview Info…and only 21% of companies use exit interview information to create an action plan to resolve issues that come up. However, designing such action plan can be extremely helpful in improving your overall contact center recruiting strategy.


Ready to lower your contact center attrition rate?

We hope having read this article, you now have a better idea of what you need to do to bring down your employee turnover rate.

But, if there’s one thing you take away from this blog post, remember, when it comes to hiring contact center employees, be strategic. This is vital to avoid mistakes that lead to early turnover and low-quality hires. Instead, refine your recruitment strategy to achieve your hiring goals.

So, what are you waiting for? Get a plan in place and put it into action!

The state of diversity recruiting in 2019 and beyond

Defining the path that corporate diversity and inclusion will follow in the near future, The State of Diversity Recruiting white paper dives into relevant emerging trends and discusses example cases throughout every stage of the recruitment funnel.

Rosie

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist who specializes in all things digital marketing, HR, and B2B. In addition to Harver, you can also find her published on Reader's Digest, E-commerce Platforms, and Judicious Inc. Check out her website https://blogwithrosie.com/ for more information.