One of the biggest challenges for a business is attracting the best talent and then retaining them. In this article we investigate new innovative recruitment techniques and provide top tips on how to get hold of the right people for your organisation.

Building a competent contact centre team, whether for customer service or sales, is not easy. Thankfully, with over 6,200 contact centres operating across the UK, making up over 4% of the country’s workforce, there is a wealth of resource to attract talent from.

How do you attract the right candidates?

When recruitment specialists Launchpad, who work with brands such as AXA, Microsoft and Three Mobile, introduced a new innovative recruitment method, which focuses on behaviours rather than experience, they noticed a positive impact to their clients’ team building. They found that having an appetite for new technology, empathy for customers and great listening skills were more important traits for agents than having had previous experience. These selection techniques have also been adopted by businesses who have contact centres, with some using online questionnaires and novel interview styles to find the right attributes in candidates.

A guide called ‘Recruiting Special Agents’, published by assessment specialists Cut-E, highlights that many contact centres replace up to a quarter of their workforce every year. Such high attrition rates are clearly not good for business. The CEO of Cut-E, Andreas Lohff says “The bad news is that the people who apply for agent positions are often unsuited to the job… This not only has significant financial impact but can harm your metrics and performance indicators.”

Giving potential candidates a realistic view of the role before they apply plays an important part in setting expectations. “When they find out that the role wasn’t what they thought it would be, they’ll either become bored and unproductive or they’ll leave” says Lohff. To avoid this, some organisations use online self-assessment tools, which let candidates see how they match to the job requirements before completing a full application.

Ian Lasplace, Director, Longreach Recruitment, identified in this article, a number of key points to think about when recruiting:

• Recruit staff against your organisation’s values and culture
• Identify successful traits in your best performing staff and look for these when recruiting
• Recruit to suit the different disciplines in your business i.e sales will require different characteristics to debt collection
• Match your recruits to the culture of a department. Is it a fast paced technology-driven environment? How important is humour, or communication skills and empathy?
• Consider who your recruits will interface with and how
• Understand your competition – try to become an employer of choice within your industry to attract the best candidates
• Once you have recruited the right people, do whatever you can to develop and retain your best staff. Losing good team members costs money, time and sometimes customers.
• Keep people driven, motivated and wanting to excel. Creating a culture of excellence will help deliver a fulfilling, competitive working environment
• Build your teams – team building helps improve your team member relations , knowledge sharing and skills

Other techniques and tools which can add huge value to your recruitment and help you to attract and keep great team members include:

• Test your interviewers – make sure your recruiters fully understand your requirements including key personality traits
• Psychometric testing – use scientific methods to identify and rank the personality traits which you both value and want to avoid
• Recruit for motivation and attitude – train for product knowledge
• Consider flexible working – if your organisation can support remote and flexible working, you can open your search to include candidates who require flexibility.
• Internal recruitment – don’t overlook talent within your business, whose knowledge of your business and its products and services will give them an advantage

Agents of the future – what are the challenges?

As customers become more used to self-service, via apps and websites, agents will be required to handle only the more complex enquiries. Therefore, it’s important that tomorrow’s customer service teams are capable of handling detailed questions, meaning that staff with training and experience will add real value. By recruiting agents who fit your business well, the chances of retaining them and building well-trained loyal teams for the future are vastly enhanced.

What are the alternatives to running your own recruitment?

There are many ways to get help recruiting the right people for your organisation. Using a reputable recruitment agency, that fully understand your industry area and requirements, can really help when trying to find the right candidates. When vetting agencies it’s important to find out how they operate and the levels of experience they have within your sector and area of business.

If your needs are short term, seasonal or sudden, outsourcing some or all of your contact centre needs can provide a solution. Established contact centres or telemarketing agencies have already invested resources in recruiting strong teams, which means they might be a perfect match for your business needs. By ‘recruiting your outsourcers’ carefully your business can avoid many of the pitfalls and costs of the recruitment process.

So, in summary, building a skilled, loyal and dynamic contact centre team can be tricky. However, using the right tools and techniques you can avoid many of the pitfalls which may come your way. Having clearly defined job role requirements and focusing on personality fit as much as industry experience will pay dividends. And there is always the option to outsource your contact centre or telemarketing, if and when required.