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Call Center Hiring: Screening Applicants for Web Chat Skills


TMCnews Featured Article

November 02, 2009

Call Center Hiring: Screening Applicants for Web Chat Skills

By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

Increasingly, organizations are using home-based call center agents for customer service. Thanks to advancements in call center technology, home-based agents can have access to all the same applications they use in the main center – plus they can be monitored just as if they are in the main center as well. What’s more, all contact types – whether phone, Web chat or email – can be accurately routed to home-based agents, based on their specific skill sets. These advancements in technology are helping to make the home-based agent model more feasible than it has been in the past.

The home-based agent model brings numerous advantages to organizations, including improved agent satisfaction and retention; better business continuity and redundancy; lower operating costs stemming from reduced facilities usage; a significantly reduced carbon footprint; and a vastly expanded pool of candidates from which to hire. In addition, most home-based agent positions are part-time, thus sparing companies from having to provide benefits to these workers.

But as many organizations are discovering, not every call center job applicant is right for the home agent model. In general, companies want candidates who already have a certain amount of call center experience, who have worked independently – or at the very least candidates with a strong set of computer, verbal and customer service skills.

This is especially true when the home-based agent is going to be handling multiple channels, including phone, Web chat and email. Each channel requires a specific set of skills in order to deliver good customer service. Some people are better at typing, spelling and grammar – these are the ones you’ll want responding to Web chats and emails -- while others excel a verbal communications – these are the ones you’ll want working the phones.

FurstPerson offers call center hiring solutions that help companies screen applicants and assess their skills. This includes screening and assessment solutions that can help a company determine if an applicant is the right “fit” for a home-based agent position.

For example, an un-named U.S.-based company with more than 3,000 home-based agents recently started using FurtPerson’s 1stSolve assessment solution, in conjunction with its Hire@Home assessment solution, to qualify job candidates for a new home agent sales “job family” in which agents need to use Web chat to drive sales revenue while maintaining customer satisfaction.

As customers browse the company’s website, a home-based contact center agent will reach out and attempt to chat with them with the goal of converting them to a revenue opportunity. The sales program is for two consumer-focused technology products.
The company was already using FurstPerson’s Hire@Home software to screen and assess applicants – but by adding FurstPerson’s 1stSolve assessment solution, which focuses on verbal, math, logic, and reasoning skills and ability, the company was able to layer-in additional screening, enabling it to select the very best candidates for these home-based agent positions requiring Web chat skills.

The result was increased revenue per chat. In fact, FurstPerson was able to validate that agents who had high scores on the 1stSolve assessment had 46 percent higher revenue per chat than the agents who had not gone through the assessment.

In addition, customer satisfaction improved for individuals with high scores on 1stSolve compared to individuals with low scores. More specifically, FurstPerson was able to demonstrate a 13 percent improvement in the number of “excellent” customer satisfaction surveys. In addition, it was able to demonstrate a 41 percent reduction in the percentage of “poor” customer satisfaction surveys.

To learn more about FurstPerson’s call center hiring solutions, click here – or to read the customer case study, click here.

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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