Today’s the day. Your new contact centre agents are starting. Everyone’s feeling excited, nervous, hoping they’ve made the right decision. As the centre manager, you’ll have a lot riding on your new agents’ success. It’s as important to make a good impression with them as they need to make with you.
We’ve covered the topic of customer experience, and how to leverage your resources to keep them coming back. The same could be said for your employees – particularly in a tough, high-turnover environment like call centres. Of course, if your agents are happy, your customers will be happy. (And your customers are happy, your managers will be happy.)
So, let’s look at some different ways to give your new agents the best possible chance of becoming successful members of your team.
In the lead up to Day One
The impression a candidate will have of your business will start from the first contact they make with you, whether it’s the result of a job ad, or a third party recruiter. They may already know your company’s reputation in the market place, but your employer reputation may be more elusive. Here are a few tips to for making a good impression on the sort of candidates you’re trying to attract.
Write a good job ad
- Include a brief overview of your company and the role the person will be fulfilling.
- Use a writing style that reflects your work culture.
- Be clear about which hard and soft skills are non-negotiable.
- Make sure links and contact details are accurate and provide relevant information.
- Make sure those who will be taking enquiries have the right answers to handle potential candidates’ questions.
- Make sure your website is up to date and accurately reflects the image you’re trying to project through your job ad.
- Ensure you have up to date technology, effective systems, a comprehensive knowledge base and a structured induction program in place to show that you’re organised and supportive.
- Send an email (automated if need be) to let them know you’ve received their application, and what action they can expect next.
E.g. “Thanks for applying for [role]. We’ll be in touch in [timeframe] to let you know whether or not you’ve been shortlisted for an interview.” Note, be sure to let unsuccessful candidates know, along with the successful ones – even if it’s just an automated message. People talk, so it’s important to respect the effort and time all your applicants have put in.
- Once you’ve created your shortlist, get in touch with candidates as soon as possible to arrange the next stages (for two reasons: 1. Good talent gets snapped up quickly; 2. It shows you’re professional, and respect their time).
- Allocate time between interviews to allow for overrun, and reduce the risk of running late for the next candidate.
- Get back to interviewees when you say you will.
Have systems and paperwork ready for them to start
- Make sure their security cards, logins, and other systems profiles are operating from Day One, or within 48 hours of their starting with you.
- Make sure they have all the necessary paperwork in time to hand it in completed to you on their first day, or allocate time during their induction for this task.
Day One (and beyond)
The first days will be a steep learning curve for your new agents, as you take them through the necessary training and support structures that will set them up for success. In fact, Harvard Business Review reports, the first 45 days are the most critical, as it’s during this span that 20% of staff turnover happens in the sector.
To combat this, HBR suggests you spend more time helping them to find their feet. This doesn’t all have to come down to one person. In fact, it’s more successful if more people are involved, as your new hire learns to work with others throughout the organisation.
Personalise the experience
Consider assigning a buddy or mentor to help them during their first few months. This can be in addition to regularly checking in with them yourself, perhaps through weekly coaching sessions. From these interactions, you can quickly identify their strengths and weaknesses, and build a deeper understanding of their skills and capabilities, so you can customise further training.
Welcome them into the team
Break up the intellectual load of learning the ins and outs of their job and your organisation. Take some time to introduce them to others around the office, not just in their immediate team. Talk to them about your office culture – some offices have staff facilities that include fresh fruit deliveries, ping pong or foosball tables. Others run regular leader boards or create other fun ways to blow off steam when they’re not taking calls.
This doesn’t just have to be about how they do their job – it can also take the form of mentoring, group training, and providing communication channels for sharing ideas and concerns. Make sure they’re aware of the services and facilities they can take advantage of, and that demonstrate how you value them as part of your team.