A recent survey by career site The Ladders (click here for the survey itself ), recruiters spend a whopping six seconds on each resume they reviewed. Six whole seconds. By way of comparison, a professional bull rider must remain on a bull for eight seconds for the ride to qualify. Many customers who interact with your call center also tend to quickly form an opinion about whether or not one of your agents will be helpful to them.
With only six seconds to make the best first impression, how can you ensure you are hiring the best candidates for the job, thereby providing the best possible customer service?
Consider this: according to 2011 United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics data regarding customer service professionals, coupled with a recent National Association of Call Center’s end user data regarding turnover and hiring, nearly 1,000,000 agents will navigate the recruiting and hiring process in 2012. Centers hiring these agents often have to settle for less-qualified applicants because they must quickly fill seats left by vacating agents and/or to satisfy an increase in transaction volume, either through growth or new client acquisition. With “time-to-fill” intervals often measured in weeks, centers often find themselves filling open positions with sub-par candidates just to satisfy service levels, even if customer satisfaction suffers. This tends to further exacerbate the turnover and attrition issues that have persisted in the call center industry for years.
For many customer service positions, resumes tend to look alike which makes it significantly more difficult for candidates to distinguish themselves and makes it difficult for recruiters to separate the exceptional candidates from the merely average. Many call centers say they want agents who exhibit energy, enthusiasm and personality – traits that would reflect well on the company’s brand, but are exceedingly difficult to discern in a written application and/or resume.
When hiring new agents into your center, there are few better ways than to listen to how prospective agents might interact with customers. Typically, this takes the form of a telephone interview where, in addition to asking some questions regarding an applicant’s basic qualification, a recruiter can easily gauge a candidate’s energy, personality and basic communication skills – generally all the attributes of a successful call center agent. However, phone interviewing is a cumbersome, tedious and inefficient process that doesn’t always result in the best available candidate being hired for the job. To what extent can technology be used to help improve this process?
By employing text-response and voice-response technologies, you can very closely approximate much of the telephone interview process at a fraction of the cost and without committing your recruiting staff to endless hours of unproductive effort. These “virtual interviews” can be recorded, scored and shared with others in the organization – other recruiters to calibrate their candidate evaluations, and key stakeholders to ensure the right candidates are being advanced in the process – in a manner that is analogous to the quality management process currently used in many of your centers. This process allows you to capture the voice of the applicant and to very quickly and easily determine whether he or she possesses the energy, enthusiasm and personality that are necessary to be successful in your center.
It turns out that six seconds might be enough time to make a good first impression after all.