Hiring Call Center Candidates Who Will Deliver Results

March 12, 2021 Tone Reinhardsen

By Tone Reinhardsen, Senior Organizational Psychology Consultant, Aon and Sofie S. Amundsen, Organizational Psychology Consultant, Aon

Call and contact centers are being shaped by advances in technology and AI. Despite this, the defining customer experience remains in the hands of the contact center agent. Customer satisfaction depends on how a call is handled, progressed and closed. Speed, efficiency and accuracy are all fundamental components.

Brand Difference

While there may be fundamental components common to all contact center experiences, the agent must also make decisions that align with the employer brand: success characteristics will differ between companies. The hiring team needs to spot behaviors in applicants early in the selection process that will lead to agreat performance once hired.

Keeping Candidates Interested

Employer brand forms part of the talent attraction strategy. Attracting the best talent for the firm is one thing, keeping them engaged in a hiring assessment process is another. It requires short, straightforward and job-relevant tests that are seamless to complete.

Insight to the Role

Retention is a key challenge for organizations operating contact centers. Attrition rates for call centers can be up to 60% and even best-in-class centers can report an agent turnover of 20%.

Attrition can be caused, in part, by a mismatch between agent expectation and role reality. The more a candidate can get a realistic view of the role, the conversation and the challenges, the greater the likelihood that a mismatch will be avoided.

Talent Assessment for Call Center Agents

What better way is there to identify the key behavioral differentiators in candidates and showcase the role, than designing a robust assessment built using real-world customer and colleague interactions?

This is how leading Nordic consumer electronics retailer, Elkjøp, approached the hiring of its contact center staff.

Elkjøp’s Story

Elkjøp has long recognized the predictive capabilities of talent assessment. It has gained real business benefits in a number of its roles from being able to spot the best applicants who, once hired, go on to become high performers. The company wanted to introduce this same rigorous methodology to hiring its call center agents.

The starting point was to understand the specific behaviors and characteristics that make the best agents. With approximately 300 agents employed across two centers in Finland and Denmark, it had access to a large talent pool to home in on the differences between ‘good’ and ‘great’.

Subject matter experts within Elkjøp worked with Aon to identify the following six essential competencies: (Dependability, Listens Actively, Flexible, Manages Pressure, Provides Accurate and Thorough Information, Makes Good Decisions).

Aon collected real-world examples of scenarios and conversations from Elkjøp’s contact center staff. These examples would help illustrate the six competencies and Aon built them into a custom-designed situational judgement questionnaire. Deployed on Aon’s chatAssess technology, the interactive assessment resembled a messaging app with conversations taking place between applicants and likely customers or colleagues.

Current employees completed the assessment to check out how assessment scores related to actual role performance. Scores were analyzed alongside other data including productivity, performance ratings, on-time arrival and leave times and manager-given competency ratings.
The results were clear.

High scorers on the new assessment were:

  • 2.57 times more likely to be top performers.
  • 2.83 times more likely to receive a high overall performance rating.
  • 2.71 times more likely to provide accurate information to customers.
  • 20% more likely to be flexible.

High scorers also:

  • Arrive late fewer times.
  • Rate higher on managing pressure, listening actively, dependability and making good decisions (as rated by their manager).
  • Have a higher Voice of the Customer rating which demonstrates better customer service.

What this Means for Others

The Elkjøp team invested in Aon designing a hiring assessment that gives candidates a realistic understanding of the contact center agent role.

However, it does more than offer an authentic view of the role. It predicts future in-post performance and the candidate fit with the specific job and, therefore, helps to reduce agent attrition.

The project serves as a reminder of the strong business impact that robust talent assessment can have.

Contact us to discuss how we can transform your candidate assessment.  


About the Author

Tone Reinhardsen

Tone Reinhardsen is a Senior Organizational Psychology Consultant and Team Leader in Aon Assessment. As an organizational psychologist she works with the design of assessment and development processes for apprentice, graduate and senior level positions. She has experience working both in-house and externally on large scale, global client projects. She works with clients across the retail, transportation, banking, IT, engineering industry and the public sector.

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