Contact Centre Recruitment in 2020

In our latest episode of the CX Hustle, we sat down with James Witcombe, Director at SMAART Recruitment to discuss how Contact Centre Recruitment in 2019 has changed along with what to expect in 2020 and beyond.

And James would know!

With over 14 years experience focussing specifically on contact centre recruitment, he’s a man with his finger on the pulse.

In a fascinating insight, James and the CX Hustle Podcast host Justin Tippett cover a range of topics in this 32-minute podcast with some insights into their conversation highlighted below.

You can play the podcast using the media player at the bottom of this article or you can find us on all the Podcast streaming channels including iTunes.

Contact Centre Recruitment in 2020

The traditional job boards like SEEK have certainly changed the way candidates apply for roles with many of the job sites using one-click apply tools enabling agents to literally apply for 60 jobs in 60 minutes.

The result, of course, is receiving a high volume of applicants that more often than not, aren’t even sure what job they’ve applied for!

This requires far more screening to ensure some of the minimum requirements are met e.g location, salaries etc before progressing candidates further in the process.

Recruiting for a contact centre agent in 2020 also requires some new ways of thinking.

  • Rather than relying on potential candidates trawling through jobs websites, considerable more marketing effort is required using all available social media channels (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc) as well as the more traditional tools such as your own website, word of mouth,  repeat clients and being pro-active in reaching out to suitable clients (aka headhunting).
  • Thinking left-field for potential candidates. James talks about hiring a bricklayer with no prior experience who turned out to be one of the top performers.

Investing the time, money and energy in getting recruitment right also pays dividends.

The cost of replacing just one frontline agent is typically between $25,000 and half a year’s salary so there is a good incentive in reducing your turnover using better recruitment practices.

One fascinating insight James reveals was the tenure for first-time agents.

“The first contact centre role for a candidate is typically the longest”.

So by the time a candidate is working in their second or third contact centre role their tenure at those roles is normally shorter.

This poses some interesting challenges for the modern contact centre manager – do you opt for someone with previous experience (so in theory already used to handling multiple systems, dealing with call centres, understanding the importance of adherence etc) or go with someone new to the industry who may take a bit longer to learn the call centre ropes but will stay with you for longer?

Another challenge for contact centre managers is that agents are often not fulfilling their notice periods which can often leave a contact centre quickly short of the resources they need to meet service levels.

James Witcombe and Justin Tippett discussing contact centre recruitment in 2020
CX Hustle Podcast host Justin Tippett (left) and James Witcombe, Director at SMAART Recruitment discussing contact centre recruitment in 2020

Tough roles to find in 2019 

Like many industries, finding quality candidates has its challenges and in talking to James,  outbound sales roles at a base level still appear to be the most challenging and that trend is expected to continue in 2020.

But it’s not just frontline roles.

Team Leader roles are also challenging and in particular, Sales Team Leaders.

With the contact centre industry still often seen as an entry point to an organisation or that first job, finding people who are invested in making a career within the industry can be challenging.

But for those that are looking to build a career, one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is that the contact centre industry rewards hard work.

For those prepared to do the hard yards, there are still significant opportunities to progress your career within a contact centre and there are now hundreds of examples of senior executives who all started their careers in the contact centre industry.

How to get contact centre recruitment right in 2020

It would be nice if there was a one-size-fits-all approach but getting recruitment right does involve tailoring your program to suit your needs however James did offer some great pointers including:

  • Set realistic time-frames with six weeks typically sufficient to allow for a quality process
  • Hit ALL the social media channels and even get your call centre manager on video
  • Use either your own, or an agencies database of potential candidates
  • Do an initial phone screen to ensure the candidate is aware of the role requirements (location, hours salary etc)
  • Tailor your assessment centres to the type of role (e.g. a sales assessment centre would be different from a service one)
  • Don’t have too many people in your assessment centres – around 8 is good.
  • Tailor your testing dependent on the role including:
    • Activities
    • Roleplays
    • psychometric testing
    • Phone role plays
    • One on one interviews
  • Involve various areas of the business in the assessment centres

The future of recruitment 

As the complexity of the calls continue to increase in the contact centre (as all the simple ones are being automated or handled via self-service) there is a changing focus on the skills required of a call centre agent.

James referred to it as having ‘conversations of influence’ and it’s a great summation of what’s expected of a contact centre agent of the future.

Some tips on how to get your contact centre recruitment right for next year and beyond:

  • Don’t always rely on the resume (interview performance versus black and white of the resume)
  • Understand the profile of what your best agent looks like
  • Emotional Intelligence is becoming increasingly important!

Links mentioned in this Podcast

For a list of Australian Contact Centre Recruitment Agencies that specialise in the contact centre industry visit our CX Directory > 

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