A Guide to Call Center Staffing
Call center staffing can be very challenging. According to data collated by Avoxi, staff turnover rates in the United States range from 17% in small call centers to 44% in large call centers, with Cornell University research showing that replacing one agent costs around 16% of their gross annual salary.
It can feel like hiring managers are constantly in the interview room, searching for new team members that never stick around.
How can you find top-quality candidates that will stay with your company for the long term?
In this article, we provide a complete guide to hiring the best candidates and taking the stress out of your call center staffing efforts.
Identifying Essential Skills
What skills do call center candidates need? This may vary slightly from business to business. However, in general, they will need the following:
- Excellent communication and social skills
- A team player
- Able to work autonomously
- Works well in a fast-paced environment
If you find a candidate that demonstrates all these skills from the get-go, they are likely going to be a great fit. However it’s much more likely that a candidate will be strong in some of these areas and weak in others. You can administer tests throughout the hiring process to help you identify a candidate’s skills.
By identifying the level of each of the necessary skills a candidate has, you can make a more informed hiring decision, understanding any subsequent training that is needed.
Candidate Red Flags for Call Center Staffing
As you move candidates through your hiring process, there will also be warning signs to consider. Many of these red flags should cause you to decline a candidate. The major red flags include:
· Unwillingness to learn
Even call center staff with a lot of experience will need training. They will need to learn your systems and about your product or service.
A candidate who is hard-headed and not open to learning new systems will find it difficult to excel in your company. If you suspect a candidate will always want to do things their way and will be unwilling to learn, checking the experience of the candidate’s previous employers is an action you should be taking.
Argumentative candidates, who are ‘always right’ and find it difficult to see other people’s points of view will likely disrupt team harmony and can create a toxic working environment.
It’s a risk that the new hire may even tell frustrated customers that they are wrong. Patient agents are better communicators and more effective brand advocates, helping you retain customers. An agent who is argumentative may come across as being passionate and willing to fight for the cause at all costs – but this can sometimes do more harm than good.
· Speaks negatively about previous employer
A huge potential red flag for any candidate is trash talking a previous employer. Even if a candidate had a poor relationship with their previous boss, there is a constructive way to convey this without making it a personal attack.
How a candidate speaks about a previous employer can tell you much about that candidate. Someone who passionately dislikes their previous boss is often unwilling to admit that they may have been part of the issue. This could be a sign that they will readily blame others and avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.
· Makes a lot of excuses
Mistakes happen and problems arise. However, being able to face this head-on, admitting to mistakes and looking for productive solutions is what will keep things running efficiently in your call center. Excuses waste time and cost money.
To Sum Up
Call center staffing is never easy. It’s an industry with one of the highest rates of turnover. However, your customer service operation can be the one to break the mold and earn your company a positive reputation for being able to retain staff.
Identifying the skills necessary to complete tasks and testing for them during the interview process will help you pick out top candidates. It’s also important to be vigilant for red flags. It takes a certain type of person to work well in a call center. Argumentative, hard-headed candidates who too readily pass the buck will struggle to do the job well.