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Top 3 challenges with hiring contact center agents

The experience that your customer has with your company on a day-to-day basis hinges on the quality of the customer service agents that you hire.

A good experience during a call can mean keeping a customer and even improving the relationship, while a negative experience can not only seriously damage the company’s image and brand, but may lead to losing the customer.

According to a study published by McKinsey & Company, maximising satisfaction and optimising the customer’s journey can increase customer satisfaction by 20%, increase revenues by 15% and reduce the cost of customer service by up to 20%. This highlights the importance of good hiring practices for contact centers to quickly identify the best talent and engage them. Competition for qualified agents is often fierce, particularly in cities like Manila, and candidates with a combination of good communication skills, the ability to remain calm in the face of pressure, problem resolution and language skills are in high demand.

Add to this the contact centers’ high recruitment needs due to high turnover and this makes BPO a uniquely challenging industry to recruit in.

Challenge 1: Reducing time-to-hire and cost-per-hire

The average time to fill a vacancy for a customer service agent varies greatly between contact center types and verticals. While the industry average is 40 days, this can mean a few days for one type of position and more than 10 months for a position requiring a rare skill set.

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This volatility makes the cost-to-fill vary significantly. Despite this, the average cost of replacing a candidate in the company is between 3 and 6 months’ salary or up to 9 months if it includes the cost of training and onboarding.

This amount also includes the cost of administrative management, as well as other indirect costs such as loss of productivity until the new agent becomes operational.

Challenge 2: Assessing better to reduce agent turnover

High turnover is one of the biggest challenges faced by call center management and has the ability to cripple a contact center and prevent it from providing the agreed-upon level of service. While the average annual turnover is 30%, it is not uncommon to see 100% turnover on an annual basis.

This turnover is a result of two main factors: the degree to which the agent was competent and suited for the job and the workplace environment. The highest proportion of turnover occurs during the first 90 days, suggesting an inaccurate assessment of the agent’s skills during the hiring process.

How well do you know what makes an agent successful in your company? Do you assess for these criteria in the pre-screening phase of your hiring process?

Find out how to use the pre-recorded video interview to assess soft skills during the pre-screening phase

Challenge 3: Finding and engaging candidates with the right skills

According to a study conducted by Deloitte, 50% of contact center managers state that the biggest challenge they will face in the coming years will be customer experience and satisfaction. Only 15% mentioned costs. Contact centers across Europe – whether Eastern, Western or Nordic – consistently identify customer satisfaction and first contact resolution rates as their key indicators, rather than cost-oriented metrics like cost-per-call.

A key contributing factor to an agent’s ability to quickly resolve a customer issue is how well he understood the issue and was able to communicate a solution while reassuring the customer – a question of not only soft skills but language skills.

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The trick is both finding candidates that possess a high spoken and written proficiency in one or several languages and engaging them throughout the hiring process with a seamless candidate experience and promise of a great place to work. Any language assessment introduced into the process should be able to accurately assess your candidates’ ability to communicate in oral and written form and leave the candidate with a positive image of your company and the hiring process.What image does your language assessment process convey about your contact center? Modern and digital or stodgy and business-as-usual?

With the innovative EASYSPEAKING language assessments, you can assess your agents’ speaking and written proficiency in 13 languages using a 20-minute assessment that the candidate can do anytime, anywhere from their computer or smartphone. These tests are marked by certified language experts within 48 hours, according to the CEFR level framework. The EASYSPEAKING assessments are integrated with Oracle and SuccessFactors so your recruiters can manage the entire process within your ATS.

If you would like to learn more about digitizing and standardizing your language assessment process,, contact us  and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Published by Jesus Linares
on 5 April 2019

easyspeaking , language assessment tool , call center

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