6 Ways to Use the Hiring Process to Overcome Contact Center Attrition

December 20th, 2018
Jon-Mark Sabel

Contact center work is hard. Between irritable customers and the time-sensitive nature of the work, it’s no wonder contact center representatives turn over at a disproportionately high rate. That said, the people who work in your contact center are the foundation of your customer experience. 33% of consumers say they would consider switching companies after a single bad experience. This is likely why 46% of contact center leaders listed “customer experience and satisfaction” as their most important issue in the next two years (only 15% said “cost”). Online and self-service content make it easy for customers to address most common issues themselves. When they call in, chances are they really need help. Can you really provide a consistent brand experience when most representatives turnover within a year?

Using the Hiring Process to Overcome Attrition

There are two sides to any attrition problem: the hiring side, and the workplace side. There are things you can do once someone is hired - in terms of workplace environment, compensation, benefits, etc - that decrease the likelihood of turnover. In this article we’re going to focus on the hiring side of things: how to identify the high performers least likely to turnover.

1) Realistic Job Previews

While there are several steps you can take to identify potential high performers during the hiring process, you can start the evaluation process pre-application. Realistic job previews give job seekers a raw, unfiltered look into the daily life and expectations of a job. Realistic job previews work on multiple levels:

  • They allow job seekers to select themselves out if they aren’t a fit for the work.
  • They attract job seekers who see themselves as a match for the work environment.
  • They differentiate your workplace from others.

Realistic job previews usually take the form of a video, though more interactive formats are gaining popularity. Read more about the four types of realistic job previews.

2) Understand the Skills that Matter - and How to Screen for Them

When you hire an employee with the skills to succeed, everyone wins. They win because they’re good at their job, and gain the fulfillment that comes from succeeding. You win because they’re good at their job, and people who succeed are much less likely to leave. Contact center representatives require a unique mix of skills and competencies to succeed. At HireVue, we’ve identified these five competencies as crucial for success:

  1. Communication: Communicates in a clear and convincing manner and ensures mutual understanding. Appropriately tailors message to audience.
  2. Personal Stability: Remains controlled in the face of pressure, complaints, or failure and has the ability to think rationally despite pressures. Can cope well with irritable customers or co-workers.
  3. Conscientiousness & Responsibility: Is responsible, reliable, and committed to achieving and maintaining high work standards. Has an innate sense of integrity and honor. Can self-monitor and manage their own follow-up.
  4. Problem Solving: Identifies and analyzes problems, determines causative factors, and finds solutions to them. Isolates problem areas and uses appropriate techniques to solve them.
  5. Willingness to Learn: Learns, remembers, and applies new techniques or procedures and will share best practices with others. Continuously seeks opportunities to close performance gaps and improve. Leverages appropriate resources to optimize performance.

The selection process becomes more focused when you have a specific list of competencies in mind. They help you develop interview questions, refine candidate assessments, and pinpoint areas for improvement in a hiring process.

3) Rethink the Unstructured Interview

While many hiring managers prefer an unstructured interview format, there are better options if your goal is reducing turnover. Compared to a well-designed structured interview, unstructured interviews are less predictive of job success and more likely to introduce bias.

4) Scale Your Structured Interviews to Cast a Wider Net and Consider More Candidates

You likely already have a system in place that pre-screens candidates based on qualifications like previous experience. Whether this is a manual resume review or something your ATS does automatically, resume qualifications are rarely a good indicator of future performance. Job-specific competencies and skills are far more reliable indicators. These can’t really be deduced from the typical resume or job application; structured interviews give much better insight. Unfortunately, the interview is usually the last step of the hiring process, rather than the first. On-demand video interviews were designed to overcome this classic hiring paradox. They allow you to conduct structured interviews at scale. Candidates record their responses to your interview questions at a time of their choosing, and recruiters can review and share interviews with hiring managers asynchronously. An added bonus for contact centers is the ability to preface on-demand interview questions with a recorded video. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase a challenge an employee might be expected to handle on the job, and ask the candidate how they would approach it.

5) Predict Turnover with Pre-Hire Assessments

Pre-hire assessments have provided employers objective insight into candidates’ critical competencies and likelihood to turnover for decades. In a high turnover environment - and one where new hires represent your brand immediately - they can be invaluable. That said, legacy pre-hire assessments come with some hefty drawbacks. If you already have a pre-hire assessment in place, and are still struggling to identify great hires, those drawbacks could be the reason why. A classic problem with legacy assessments is getting candidates to take them. They almost always take the form of a lengthy, multiple-choice test. The candidates who drop out at the assessment step frequently have their pick of available jobs (especially in today’s tight job market) and don’t feel the need to spend time taking an exam. Fortunately, today’s technology can make this a worry of the past.

6) Uncover the Competencies that Matter with AI

The next generation of pre-hire assessments leverage artificial intelligence to deliver assessments in a more candidate-friendly way. For example, artificial intelligence can be used to evaluate candidates’ recorded video interviews and assess the competencies most relevant for success on the job. These video-based assessments mean candidates can simply take an on-demand video interview, rather than a lengthy test. Video-based assessments excel at uncovering the competencies we looked at in #2: Communication, Personal Stability, Conscientiousness & Responsibility, Problem Solving, and Willingness to Learn. All the benefits of on-demand video interviewing still hold here, too. This is how Hilton was able to replace both their phone screen and legacy assessment with a single on-demand interview, and reduce their time to fill by 90%. Game-based assessments are another next-generation assessment format. These evaluate a candidate’s ability to work with and assimilate new information (critical for the fast-paced world of customer service) with a series of short games. Since a game-based assessment generally takes under 15 minutes to complete, it can be combined with a video-based assessment for a comprehensive look into a candidate’s aptitudes and competencies.

Learn how to benchmark and calculate the ROI of your contact center recruiting efforts: