By Jeff Furst

Contact centre hiring managers are facing stiff challenges in ensuring their centres are fully staffed. Low unemployment, competition with other industries that are expanding and pay rate pressures are making it difficult for them to meet fill rate targets. Not surprisingly contact centre agent turnover continues to be a challenge. The variable cost of losing one contact centre employee is between $4,000 and $5,000.

So, what should a contact centre hiring manager do? Based on our work with contact centres across Canada and globally we recommend they employ analytical tools to understand their sourcing strategies and quality of hires while reviewing their candidates’ experiences to determine ways to drive candidate engagement.

Attracting the right candidates

Contact centre hiring managers should first evaluate the effectiveness of their current talent acquisition processes. In other words, are they (you) successful at attracting the right candidates?

Metrics focused on quality of hire, hiring manager satisfaction and average length of employment? (e.g. 90 days, 180 days, 1 year) will help you determine if you have the right candidate population that allows you to hire sufficient numbers of individuals that meet your job requirements.

Let’s take quality of hire as an example. Contact centre operations are a wealth of data. This data should be used as part of your hiring process. If it is not then you are missing a valuable opportunity to quantify your hiring process to drive business value.

Building a quality of hire metric is based on establishing measurable components throughout your employee lifecycle:

  • Start with defining the job in measurable competencies;
  • Determine how you will measure each competency during the selection process; and
  • Finally, understand how your new hire is evaluated on their job performance.

You can then link your hiring process outcomes to actual job performance to determine if a relationship exists between your hiring process and job performance. You may also want to consider using pre-employment assessments. They can identify candidates who have the right traits or qualities to work well within your company. Assessments are therefore viable options to identify qualified candidates who are fits for your specific jobs.

Sourcing channel analysis

Now that you have an established measurement of quality of hire you can focus on your sourcing strategy. In our work with contact centres across North America and Asia we have found that grouping recruiting sources can be helpful in measuring your sourcing channel effectiveness. As examples, Tier 1: all person to person sources like employee referrals, Tier 2: all web-based recruiting channels, like job boards and Tier 3: traditional sourcing, like newspaper print ads and job fairs.

Many contact centres do not have a data-driven understanding of the value their recruiting strategy contributes to their overall hiring process. Sourcing channel analytics fill this gap.

You can take a historical assessment of your various sourcing channels and determine which ones sourced your best performing employees. You can then compare overall channel costs, candidate quantity and quality to develop a sourcing channel index. This will allow you to allocate your recruiting dollars to the best performing channels based on your data. For example, FurstPerson data shows that hires sourced from employee referrals tend to have better retention, but hires from Internet sources tend to have slightly better job performance.

You should note that tracking sourcing channels can be challenging. Many candidates do not clearly recall how they found you, leading to accuracy issues with self-reported data. You can then incorporate new hire surveys into your sourcing process to help correct for possible errors.

Contact centre hiring managers should also focus on the candidate recruiting experience. It can be defined as the process, messaging and time a candidate will experience when applying for a job. Defining it into measurable steps will allow you to understand application completion rates across the process and identify potential issues that may impact your candidate volume.

Mobile hiring

The adoption of a mobile-optimized analytics-based candidate hiring process is a significant trend. It seems like an easy choice in helping to recruit sufficient volumes of the right candidates. Almost everyone has a mobile phone, which makes it easy for candidates to reach you and apply any time from anywhere. In fact, FurstPerson’s data shows that candidate volume can increase by 20% to 30% when adopting a mobile driven recruiting process.

However, the decision to adopt a 100% mobile-optimized process may require trade-offs. For example, multi-tasking, computer navigation and computer keyboarding are all critical to new hire job performance. FurstPerson data has demonstrated that job candidates that do not meet these job requirements are more likely to churn in the first 90 days.

A contact centre simulation, based on a computer desktop environment that mimics the job, is a proven method to measure candidates’ skills. But a mobile-optimized process limits your ability to measure them. These trade-offs need to be discussed to balance your top-of-funnel sourcing needs and your quality of hire selection methods.

Contact centre hiring managers do have a few options. One option is to use a hybrid approach that combines a fully mobile optimized process with either a desktop or in-centre process. The mobile optimized process is used for the applications and then evaluation of work ability and work motivation. The candidates then complete the work ability section via a simulation, either at home on their desktop computers or in contact centres.

A second option is to utilize mobile-optimized simulations. These assessments measure many of the same criteria except for computer navigation and keyboarding. For companies that determines a 100% mobile-optimized process is their best option, simulations optimized for mobile phones will still allow hiring managers to evaluate work ability in a mobile optimized process.

Jeff Furst is president and CEO of FurstPerson, Inc. Founded in 1998 FurstPerson develops, implements and operates web-based pre-employment assessment solutions designed for the contact centre industry. Its solutions are active in over 200 labour markets globally.

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