August 14, 2012
The Toughest Job in the Contact Center: Agent Recruiter
Filed under: Entrepreneurship
Agent recruiters have their work cut out for them: they’re recruiting not just for customer service skills and efficiency but also tech-savviness and the ability to absorb large amounts of information about the many products and services now common in the consumer space. I’ve written before about emotional intelligence and its importance in recruiting and training, but the agent recruiter must also have a host of other tools in his/her toolbox in order to ensure that the company has the best and most effective contact center.
Agent Recruitment Challenges
Today’s contact center agents can be anywhere: on-premise, at home (virtual contact center agents), and offshore. All require different recruitment techniques. Virtual contact centers have unique recruitment challenges, given the nature of the job. Virtual agents must, by necessity:
- be able to work independently, with little or no supervision;
- have modern, up-to-date equipment, and be able to maintain that equipment with little or no support from the company;
- be comfortable working as an independent agent, since most contact centers that employ virtual agents do so under a 1099 status;
- work in a home environment free from distractions, from barking dogs to ringing doorbells to crying children;
- be comfortable working a fast-paced schedule; and
- be able to keep up with the latest developments in call center technology as well as in the industry in which he or she works. This might mean self-paced study, computer-based training, or even in-person training and conferences.
Agents must therefore recruit not only for customer service skills but also for professionalism, self-discipline, the ability to self-motivate, and organization. The stubbornly high unemployment rates have encouraged many people to seek out virtual home agent positions, but clearly, not everyone can be, or even wants to be, self-employed. Agent recruiters must be able to sift through the many thousands of résumés they receive and know who among the applicants have the ability as well as temperament to thrive in a remote contact center position.
I’ve written before about the importance of emotional intelligence (EI), and there are tests and other tools that assess for that trait. It’s a critical part of the agent recruitment process and one that has helped us find the best of the best.
Other tools in the recruiter’s arsenal, however, require a more creative approach to finding and attracting the most qualified agent candidates. One often under-looked but invaluable resource is one’s own agent labor force. While paying for ads in newspapers and online job sites are tried-and-true techniques, encouraging current agents to refer potential candidates can create a highly effective pipeline for talent. Current agents know the requirements of the job better than anyone and understand the personality traits and knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) it demands in order to ensure success.
Yet another great recruiting tool to attract the right candidates is one’s own website. A compelling Careers page must include more than just an invitation to apply. Highly qualified candidates, no matter what the state of the economy, are nearly always in high demand, and they’ll want to know what kind of a job a contact center offers and the benefits it offers them before they invest the time applying for it. Many recruiters fill their Careers pages with videos showcasing the caliber of clients the company attracts; the flexible work schedules, training opportunities; and the variety of assignments.
Testimonials from current agents and agent profiles and videos are other great recruiting tools. Many younger, web-savvy candidates now expect a robust recruitment website to include videos, social media communities, and interactive pages. Recruiters must be able to juggle the multitude of channels from which to recruit candidates and keep up with the latest trends in web-based recruitment in order to stay on top of the field.
The increasingly complex nature of the contact center environment — and in particular the remote agent workforce — has resulted in an equally complex and dynamic recruitment process to attract the most qualified candidates. Recruiters must still be able to draw a large pool of applicants, but this time they’re often doing so from many more sources, some of which may be more appropriate than others.
How do you recruit agents for your contact center? Or, if you’re an agent, how were you recruited for your position?