Call Center Hiring: How to Hire the Right Call Center Employees

One of the toughest challenges that call centers face is finding and retaining good employees. High agent turnover means more resources that must be spent on hiring and training, eating away at company profits. Hiring the right call center employees from the start can help you to reduce turnover and avoid such losses. Here are some call center hiring tips to help you find and hire the best reps.

The Costs of Agent Loss

Agent turnover is considered an operating expense. As such, the issue is often overlooked and underestimated. But this silent killer of profits can eat away at a company’s bottom line.

According to a recent study by The Quality Assurance & Training Connection, the average call center  turnover rate is 30-45% each year. When you consider the fact that it takes on average about 90 days to fully train a new employee, it’s clear that such high turnover rates can be very costly—in terms of financial costs, training time, and customer experience quality (as newer employees may not be as effective until fully trained). For organizations that take the time to scout out the right employees, however, turnover rates and associated costs can be reduced.

What to Look for in a Great Call-Center Employee

It takes a special kind of person to be able to handle the level of customer service needed on a consistent basis. Here are some of the most important qualities to look for in top candidates:

  • Exceptional Communication Skills. The primary function of the job is to speak with customers to offer support and help resolve issues. Agents need to have excellent communication and social skills to perform that task well.
  • Team Player. Candidates should express a willingness to commit to the team and not just be “in it for themselves.”
  • Autonomous. Look for candidates who have the ability to work without needing to be told what to do. Call centers are busy environments. Reps need to be able to take action without direction.
  • Multitasking. The best reps are capable of multitasking confidently in a fast-paced environment.
  • Fast Learner. Your reps should be able to quickly learn new skills while on the job, which can range from new product information to new tools, customer support techniques and more.
  • Patient. Good call center reps need to be able to keep their cool, even when speaking with upset customers. Remaining calm and collected is crucial to providing a quality customer support experience.
  • Empathetic. Reps that have a strong ability to put themselves in the shoes of customers are better able to help customers feel that they are being heard and that their opinions are valid. This human touch can go a long way.
  • Detail-Oriented. To say that agents should be detail-oriented is an understatement. Agents need to be able to focus on the small details of each individual call—even after they’ve received 100 other calls in the same day that seem very similar. It may be easy to get complacent, but complacency can cause a rep to miss important details unique to a given customer. For instance, agents need to be meticulous with their documentation, as that documentation will be used to report to management and for process improvement initiatives, and it is discoverable (e.g., lawsuits, FDA, etc.).
  • Multilingual. Of course, reps who can speak multiple languages fluently are extremely valuable, allowing you to offer support to a broader audience.

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Red Flags to Watch for in Potential Employees

While you should be spending your time looking for qualities that make up a good employee, don’t forget to keep a close eye on potentially hazardous traits as well. Candidates with any of these traits may not be suited to work as a call center agent:

  • Argumentative. The last thing you want is a rep who will escalate an already tense situation by becoming argumentative when conversations get heated.
  • Hard-Headedness. Part of working as a call center agent is to learn new systems and skills. Those who are stuck in their ways or are unwilling to implement new techniques will likely have trouble in this role.
  • Tactlessness. As agents are in a customer-facing role, it is absolutely essential that they exhibit the utmost professionalism and tact in their conversations. Agents must be socially adept, sensitive to customer issues, and confident in their communication skills.
  • Unwillingness to Accept Responsibility. Agents who regularly make excuses for their mistakes rather than seeking out ways to learn from their mistakes and improve will struggle to progress in this role.

How to Find the Perfect Call Center Employee

Now that you know what signs to look for in a good call center rep, how will you actually find the right candidates? Here are a few things you can do to help bring the best agents to you:

Create a Job Ad that Resonates

A wanted ad is not just an announcement that you’re hiring—it’s also an advertisement for your company. Use it as a chance to show what your company is all about. The more information you can give to a candidate, the better. Providing a clear picture of what your organization does and what is expected in the role will help candidates know if they are a good fit, which can help to reduce the amount of erroneous applications.

Be sure to include a clear description of your ideal candidate by highlighting the skills, education, knowledge, and experience that you are seeking. Also, make sure to note any key traits that would be helpful in this role.

Prepare Screening Questions

Screening questions can help you to quickly assess candidate strengths and weaknesses. Here are some examples of important questions to ask during an interview:

  • What do you know about our call center and the role?
  • What attracted you to this job?
  • What do you think a successful call center does right?
  • How have you provided great customer service in the past?
  • How would you handle a call from an angry customer?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • What would your current manager say about you?

These questions will allow you to gain insight into a candidate’s previous experience while checking for some of the key characteristics and red flags noted above.

Ask for References

As in any job, requesting and validating candidate references is extremely important. Following up with references can help you to get an independent overview of a candidate’s previous performance. It can also help you to clear up any vague areas on the candidate’s CV and validate the candidate’s responses provided so far. While this can be a time-consuming process, there are many tools available now to help automate referencing as well.

Stafford Communications Can Help

Thinking about outsourcing or co-sourcing?  We know what it takes to hire the right people to represent your products and services.  With our low turn-over rate and ability hire a team that is passionate about providing extraordinary service to your customers, we may be the right fit for your outsourcing needs. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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