Agent selection

Text: Alfons Daanje
Working at a contact centre: the past few years this was not a good opener at parties, birthdays or at the café when someone asked about the job of another person. Everyone seems to have a negative experience with contact centres that call during dinner time with a fantastic offer of green energy or a loan with an interest rate that you just cannot refuse.

A perfect match
Contact centres have had difficulties finding the right employees partly because of this negative image, but in the current economic situation it seems more and more interesting to start working in this sector. Looking for the right agent that fits the company is very important, since he’ll be the business card of the company.
In order to match the right candidate with the job, it’s very important that the candidate knows where he stands. Does the candidate have a good picture of the contact centre sector and the job? Is the job temporary or of long standing and is the candidate able to conform to this? In an interview with the candidate it becomes clear whether or not the candidate has prepared himself, but it’s equally as important to provide the candidate with sufficient information before starting the interview. The information can be given in the form of an informative leaflet that explains the job as well as the organization. Another good idea is giving tours of the contact centre; this way candidates can “hear and see” the possible work environment and thus already decide beforehand whether or not this is the job for them.

Online tests
The best agent is not always the one with the most experience. The CV is only a paper version of the candidate’s career. The job interview is therefore equally important. During the interview, one can check whether the CV fits the person or not. 50% of the CV’s contain one or more “mistakes” about past working experiences or schooling. Candidates feel the need to distinguish themselves, especially in these times. Checking references, after approval of the candidate, stays an important item of the procedure.
The usage of tests, especially online, as a means of recruiting has increased sufficiently over the last few years. These tests are mainly about knowledge and skills, include personal questions and take up positions. The test can also help to create more depth for the job interview. The results of these tests, that were taken over a longer period of time, can also make predictions about the value of the employees’ stay. The danger is that these results become the goal instead of a means; tests are an addition to CV’s and can form the basis of the job interview.

Checking a CV
The recruiter’s task during the interview is to see whether the CV fits the person and whether the person fits the company (and vice versa):
• What is the candidate’s motivation to react to the vacancy?
• Were the listed previous employers really the employers of the candidate?
• Is the past work experience relevant for the job?
• Are job title and job content the same?
• Are the data stated on the CV logical and chronological?
Apart from these things, specific elements like being able to work under pressure, targets and dealing with difficult clients should be discussed during the interview. This prevents both parties to start the collaboration with different intentions.

Career opportunities
The area of tension between the right candidate and the fastness with which a vacancy needs to be filled is clearly present in the contact centre sector. Before a new employee is able to talk to the clients of the contact centre, he needs to follow different trainings and succeed with success. The recruiter needs to assess whether or not the candidate will see through the first 3 months on the basis of tests, the CV and job interview. Experience learns us that these 3 months are a determining factor of whether the employee will stay for a longer period or not.
Working at a contact centre is a job with a future, something that is carried by the entire sector and suppliers like employment agencies. More than ever, investments are made for the training of contact centre personnel, quality certification (COPC) and making the job of contact centre employees more attractive by offering career opportunities. It’s because of these things that ever more contact centre colleagues talk with pride about this fantastic sector!

Alfons Daanje is Senior Project Manager at Adecco Contact Center Solutions

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