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Improving Front-line Recruitment & Hiring
Raising the Bar—Identifying Candidate Potential and Fit
An Extract from Improving Front-line Recruitment 2009, a new research report published by the Ascent Group, Inc.
The Ascent Group conducted research in late 2008 and early 2009 to better understand the recruitment and hiring of front-line customer service employees. The main objective of the study was to identify “best practices” for hiring, screening and recruitment. In particular, focus was given to understanding how best-in-class customer service organizations determine necessary skill sets and work experience for their front-line, customer facing employees. Secondary objectives included understanding:
- The criteria used for hiring customer-facing employees?
- How are candidates identified? Advertising? Placement firms?
- What screening processes and techniques are used? Are outside placement firms used?
- What screening tests are used?
- What are the most effective processes for identifying highly qualified individuals?
- What are the key elements to hiring these individuals?
We asked companies to describe and define the hiring, screening, and recruitment process for their front-line customer service employees as well as management tactics and strategies and improvements in performance. The study also asked companies to include considerations, successes, and plans moving forward. The result of this effort is captured in our report, Improving Front-line Recruitment 2009.
Top front-line recruitment and hiring plans stress improved candidate screening, streamlined process, and online sourcing. To improve candidate screening companies are adding more “Customer Service” into the skill assessments and identifying candidates with writing skills, due to the increase in customer email. Companies are also emphasizing behavioral attributes, such as organizational/cultural fit and potential rather than prior experience. Companies are raising the bar—adding more interviews and being more selective, looking more closely for candidates that have the potential to learn and the right attitude.
Enhancements to the interview process focus on identifying the behaviors that indicate “customer service” orientation and fit. Additionally, companies are making changes to the interview process to:
- Streamline to reduce time to hire,
- Incorporate peer interviews, and
- Involve front-line management and supervision.
Customer-centric service has become a key business strategy today for many companies, especially in this struggling economy. Assembling the right mix of resources to ensure high-quality, cost-effective customer care is a constantly evolving challenge. With labor representing 80 to 90 percent of a customer service budget, hiring and retention is critical. The key to higher retention is not only finding individuals that can do the job, but also finding individuals that want to do the job and will fit into your corporate culture.
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