The quality of your customers’ experience depends largely on the quality of your call center agent hiring. For that reason, it’s essential to be clear about the purpose of your call center. Your call center may focus primarily on sales, customer support, or a combination of both. Knowing the purpose of your call center and evaluating call metrics will help you determine your call center’s needs.
As you recruit call center agents and evaluate their qualifications, you’ll want to ensure that they’re a good fit for the role of a sales representative or customer service representative. Best practices for hiring call center agents will assist your efforts in identifying and hiring the best talent for your call center.
What Is the Purpose of a Call Center?
Are you starting a new call center or you’re running an existing call center? Do you have a clear purpose for your call center?
First, let’s define a call center. A call center is a department within a business that’s responsible for receiving inbound and making outbound calls. This could be to customers or prospects. The typical goal for a call center is to ensure a good customer experience while generating revenue.
From their earliest times, call centers were generally categorized as either profit centers or cost centers, depending on their purpose. Most often, sales call centers were considered profit centers while customer service call centers were viewed as cost centers.
Call centers are viewed very differently today. It costs more to get new customers than to retain existing customers. Knowing this should encourage your company to place a heavier focus on customer retention.
Fortunately, the right tools, such as a cloud-based phone system will better allow you to train call center agents. This typically starts on how to provide a good customer experience in alignment with both the customer’s and businesses needs. The right digital tools help your company turn your customer support department into a profit center, not a cost center.
As for a sales call center, the right call center software allows your call center representatives to focus more heavily on each part of the sales funnel. The right software helps you to set up workflows in which you can assign and train different teams of sales representatives to generate qualified leads with the goal of closing sales. The right software applications assist your call center representatives in being productive and working efficiently.
Ultimately, your overall goal is to generate new sales and revenue, while growing your customer base and retaining current customers.
How to Define Your Call Center Needs
Knowing the purpose of your call center is just part of the equation for determining your call center’s needs. Your call volume fluctuates based on peak calling times, which can vary by the time of day or time of year. If your business has a national or international presence, you could have calls coming in around the clock from various time zones.
One of the many benefits of a cloud-based phone system is the call center analytics dashboard feature. Call center software analytics can tell you how many calls are coming into your call center during any given period.
It helps to have a standard for how long call center representatives should be spending on each call.
Call center representatives that aren’t spending enough time on each call may lead to negative customer experiences. Those who spend too much time on calls aren’t working efficiently, and it will have a major effect on your call center’s productivity. The average handling time measures the average time that call center representatives need to answer questions and resolve problems. When you use a cloud-based phone system, you can also easily gauge the average handling time for other communication channels including chat and email.
By determining your call volume for various shifts and the average handling time, you’ll be able to set up an appropriate number of call center representatives for every shift.
The Importance of Call Center Integrations
If you’re setting up a sales call center, you’ll want to choose the right call center software integrations to coincide with your call center’s purpose.
Here are some good ones to consider for your sales strategy:
- noCRM.io for CRM and sales automation
- Pipedrive for CRM and sales automation
- PieSync for productivity
- Typeform for surveys
You might consider the following software integrations if the purpose of your call center is a customer support strategy:
- Copper for CRM
- FLG for CRM
- Diduenjoy for surveys
- Klaus for quality assurance
- Heymarket for SMS
- Avoma for AI and transcription
There are a host of other software integrations that are available for your call center to support your purpose and mission.
The Process for Call Center Hiring
Hiring the right call center representatives for your call center can literally transform your business in a positive way. Whether you’re hiring the very first person for your call center or you’re expanding an existing team, it’s essential to recruit and hire the most skilled call center representatives. The best way to do that is to set up a standard process for call center hiring that covers all the right bases.
The following steps provide a guideline for a step-by-step process for call center hiring:
- Create a list of the qualities that are common among your top call center representatives.
- Establish a talent profile that includes a list of the top attributes, behaviors, and skills of the best call center agents.
- Set up a process for asking for references and checking them.
- Develop a set of questions in preparation for the interview process.
- Outline a few hypothetical scenarios to ask job candidates how they would handle them.
- Throw in a few questions about how they responded to challenges in the past.
Call center representative characteristics to look for:
- Being dependable
- Having a customer-centric mindset
- Being able to demonstrate empathy
- Having an aptitude for problem-solving
- Being willing and able to follow instructions
- Being a good multitasker
- Having the ability to work independently using specific guidelines
By taking these steps, you’ll be able to weed out the candidates that aren’t likely to work out and you’ll be in good shape to start setting up interviews.
The Importance of Effective Call Center Agent Hiring
For many customers, the customer experience is the deciding factor between the companies they choose to patronize and those they don’t. Your customers are getting blasted with numerous advertisements every day, so you simply can’t overstate the need for your customer support agents to be customer-centric.
A poor customer experience has a strong negative impact on your brand. Most of your customers spend many hours on the internet every day and a bad customer experience can spread virally online in the space of a few hours.
Let’s take a few moments to take stock of the kinds of things that really irritate customers when they need support or they’re ready to make a sale:
- It takes too long for someone to pick up the phone
- No matter how many times they get transferred, they can’t seem to get the problem resolved
- Their problem gets solved, but not in the way they wanted it to
- Call center representatives are inconsiderate or not attentive enough
- They can’t seem to get the right information
- The call center representative is so scripted, the call seems impersonal
- The billing charges are confusing or unreasonable
When you hire the right call center agents, you can train them on how to prevent these types of problems. Highly skilled call center representatives value your customers’ time and they understand how a good customer experience can prevent churn.
From a cost standpoint, the more touch points a customer has with your company, the more expensive it is to provide support for them. Too many calls from the same customer will reduce your sales or support teams’ productivity and negatively impact your bottom line.
Call Center Agent Hiring: The Role of a Sales Representative
In general, the buying public has caught on to the tips and tricks that salespeople use to get them to buy. Today’s sales representatives have to be more customer-centric in their approach than in past years to get results.
Rather than aimlessly making blind sales calls and trying to drive home a sale at the earliest opportunity, successful sales reps understand the importance of identifying customers’ needs and nurturing leads at every stage of the sales funnel. They also understand the importance of building customer relationships with the goal of creating lifetime brand loyalty.
The role of a sales representative entails following established sales workflows and knowing how to use digital sales tools to bring customers to the point of sale. Good sales reps are willing to keep systems updated so that they or their peers can access accurate customer account information at any time. Also, they’re team players who are dedicated to meeting their sales quotas. Top salespeople are good listeners, and they never miss an opportunity to upsell, cross-sell, and ask for referrals.
Call Center Agent Hiring: The Role of a Customer Service Representative
A customer service representative working in a call center receives inbound calls and makes outbound calls that encompass a wide variety of issues. For that reason, they have to be able to think on their feet and respond quickly to customer questions and concerns.
In keeping with providing a good customer experience, customer support representatives need to be good listeners who can get to the reason for the customer’s call quickly and assist them with a solution of their own or transfer them to another employee who can help them.
In customer service, it’s essential for customer support representatives to have a courteous and friendly disposition at all times, even if they’re having a bad day.
It’s also common for customer service representatives to use multiple communication channels to serve customers better, which is why the ability to multitask is so important for the role.
The right software integrations for customer support will help you monitor agent performance.
Best Practices for Call Center Agent Hiring
- Train call center agents in the importance of providing a good customer experience.
- Leverage a cloud-based phone system and the right software integrations to match your call center’s purpose. (We offer a robust set of voice calling features and the Aircall App Marketplace offers a wide variety of software Integrations that you can add seamlessly to your call center.)
- Use call center analytics to appropriately staff your call center so your call center representatives don’t feel overwhelmed by too many calls.
- Check job applicants’ references.
- Identify the most important qualities and characteristics of your top performers and look for the same qualities in job candidates.
- Consider setting up a virtual call center to leverage talent from outside your geographical area.
- Use hypothetical scenarios to get a feel for how candidates will interact with customers in your call center.
Call center agent hiring is only part of the equation. A cloud-based phone system by Aircall provides the right set of tools and applications to support your sales or service call center and position your company well to provide an excellent customer experience.