How to Keep ‘Em Once You’ve Got ‘Em — Reducing Attrition From the Get-Go

SUMMARY

  • Attrition can eat into a call center’s profits
  • What combination of personality traits makes the ideal call center agent?
  • What are ways to ensure a good job fit?

This white paper will answer these questions, showing how crafting a skill and behavioral model can decrease attrition and increase job satisfaction.

INTRODUCTION

Being a successful customer service agent or collector takes a special kind of person, because, as we all know, talking on the phone all day is not for everyone. It can be hard enough to find enough applicants, but once you have the applicants, how do you ensure that you hire the right kind of person and avoid hiring someone who’s going to quit halfway through training? Turnover costs can quickly eat into your bottom line, as attrition rates in many call centers range from 30 to 45 percent1.

Using hard data yields tremendous results in the recruiting and hiring process. Recruiters and managers who use assessment tools have found reduced risks associated with hiring, reduced training costs, and higher productivity and teamwork.

This white paper details the benefits of using a pre-hire assessment when looking to staff your contact center.

THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL HIRING METHODS

Traditional hiring methods include only listing tasks in the job listing rather than expectations, which gives an imperfect picture of what the job consists of. Then, once candidates show up to the call center, they are subjected to multiple one-on-one interviews that can exhaust the candidates. (And the interviewers). Or, candidates may only interview with one person, and the hiring decision rests on one person’s judgment.

The interview itself may comprise traditional questions such as, “What are your weaknesses?” or the old favorite, “Why should we hire you?” Many candidates have canned, prepared answers to those questions, so the interviewer’s grasp of who they are as people is skewed.

Another factor is that cultural fit is often not addressed in interviews. Personality is as big a factor as skill set when hiring.

WHERE TO START?

The first step is to list out the qualities you want your agents to have. Are they going to be primarily giving information? Problem-solving? Collecting a past-due debt? The types of calls they handle will affect the type of person you want handling your calls. What is the culture of your call center like? What are your expectations of an agent?

For instance, let’s say you want a collector who is good at salesmanship (convincing consumers of the importance of paying their debt); trustworthy and confident, with good listening skills. How do you make sure the person you’re talking to at a job fair fits that description?

When GC Services begins a project with a new client, we create a desired skill and behavior model for the new agents, based on input received from the client. Then, when applicants arrive, we use a recruiting assessment tool to match each applicant against the model and against the profiles of high performing employees in similar projects.

The assessment tool measures the following traits:

Thinking Style – how someone processes information, including problem-solving, communication, interaction and learning skills.

Behavioral Traits – commonly observed actions that help define a person.

Once the applicant takes the test, the score will show the boxes which represent the Job Performance Model, and where the applicant scored. If the applicant scores outside the range represented in the model, we are given behavioral and management considerations so that our managers can make an informed hiring decision. In the sample below, we can see the applicant scored within range for Learning Index, Verbal Reasoning and Numeric Reasoning, but out of range for Verbal Skill and Numerical Ability.

If this were a real applicant, management considerations may be this person’s ability to communicate well with people of all verbal skill levels, and potential frustration with those who are not as proficient with numerical data. Other considerations would be whether this person would be sufficiently challenged in the job.

To help assessing potential job satisfaction, our assessment tool also assesses an applicant’s motivation and potential satisfaction with different types of jobs. For instance, your top three interests for the ideal call center agent may be enterprising, people service, and financial/administrative.

After an applicant takes the assessment, our recruiter will receive a report like this:

Top Interests for Betty Applicant

  • Enterprising – Indicates interest in activities associated with persuading others, sales, and presenting ideas.
  • Creative – Indicates interest in activities using imagination, creativity, and original sales ideas.
  • People Services – Indicates interest in activities such as helping people and promoting the welfare of others.

Top Interests for this Performance Model

  • Enterprising – Indicates interest in activities associated with persuading others, sales, and presenting ideas.
  • People Services – Indicates interest in activities such as helping people and promoting the welfare of others.
  • Financial/Administrative – Indicates interest in activities such as organizing information or business procedures.

In this instance, the applicant shares two of the three top interests for the position. With an overall job match of 69 percent, GC Services would rely upon the parameters established in conversations with the client to determine whether to proceed further in the hiring process. In the interview process, our hiring managers use the test results to determine which areas to probe in an interview. For example, if an applicant’s thinking style shows numbers higher than average, the hiring manager would gear some questions toward the possibility of the applicant getting bored in the job once they have done it for a while. The applicant’s answers, in turn, could identify someone who would be open to job advancement with more responsibilities down the road, versus someone who would be content with the assigned responsibilities of the job in question. Hiring managers can use the scores, such as a low Energy score, to investigate how a candidate stays engaged and concentrated on work, or a high Assertiveness score, to see if the candidate has had problems with their supervisors in the past.

These assessment tools provide us with in-depth, objective and reliable information about our applicants far beyond what we can uncover through typical interviews. With detailed information about each applicant’s interests, thinking style, and behavioral traits, as well as a percentage score of job match, our attrition rate is in the single digits. When combined with our reference and background checks, and our structured interview process, our recruiters have all the information they need to supply the right people for the right jobs. If you would like to see how GC Services can partner with you, give us a call.


[1] Penny Reynolds, “Exploring Call Center Turnover Numbers”, QATC.org, Winter 2015.