Where Have All the Good Agents Gone? How to Find, Attract and Retain Customer Service Talent

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Exemplary Customer Service Agents Are Out There; You Just Have To Find Them.

Whether you’re struggling with high turnover, low employee satisfaction, losing agents to competitors, or the inability to source top talent, there are numerous steps you can take to improve your recruitment process. This checklist outlines the most effective strategies managers can employ to find, attract, and retain top customer service agents. Use this checklist to identify weaknesses in your process and hone in on effective methods for improving them.

Step 1: Find The Talent

Is your job posting attractive?

Top talent gets turned off easily. Something as small as a minor typo can indicate to a candidate that your team doesn’t value attention to detail and overall excellence of service. Run your postings past multiple members of the team (preferably ones with a very strong grasp of English grammar), and ensure that the posting reads well.

A little styling can also go a long way. Like everyone else, candidates do not enjoy reading huge blocks of text. Break your posting up into bullet points, headers, and short, punchy paragraphs. Help the candidate rapidly find the most important information about your posting (such as experience requirements and position responsibilities), and then let them dive into the nitty gritty details.

Finally, ensure that applying is easy! If your posting is not mobile friendly or easily navigable, tech-savvy agents will see this as a reflection of your company values. As customer service becomes more and more reliant on emerging tech, attracting these agents is paramount — don’t turn them away with a subpar application portal.

Are you posting in the right places?

There is no one-size-fits-all platform for attracting talent, and casting a wide net can often result in a sea of agents who aren’t strong fits. Sifting through hundreds of applicants is time consuming and ultimately not the best use of resources, even if the perfect agent is buried under all the noise.

Limit your postings to highly targeted job boards that cater to the types of agents you want. In addition to more conventional channels like LinkedIn and Glassdoor—if you are offering competitive, stateside pay for an experienced agent at your SMB, AngelList is often a good place to find tech-minded, experienced talent. If you’re running a team of remote agents, try a board like WeWorkRemotely. There are also job boards that cater directly to the customer service industry, such as Support Driven. The key is to choose a place that is largely populated by those who have the candidate profile you’re seeking.

Step 2: Attract Talent

Are you meeting people’s needs?

According to a Glassdoor survey, the top 5 biggest considerations that job seekers take into account when considering an offer are:

  • Salary and compensation
  • Career growth opportunities
  • Work-life balance
  • Location/commute
  • Company culture and values

Attracting candidates doesn’t mean you need to provide a masseuse on staff or brew your own beer. But you should demonstrate that you respect these 5 considerations, and offer perks that reflect those values. Whether that be offering tax-exempt commuter benefits, generous vacation policies, or a clear career advancement track, show candidates that you understand what’s important to them, and address each one of these considerations.

Are you showcasing your company’s unique workplace culture?

Culture fit is more than just a buzzword these days; candidates want to know what kinds of people they’re working with. If your office tends to be loud and animated, showcase that. If the office tends to be quiet with everyone working individually, showcase that. Do you allow dogs? Do you go on fun team outings? Show candidates what their day-to-day life will be like. A common way to do this is through a team video. However, photos and text on your site can also suffice, and are a much more affordable route.

Step 3: Retain Top Talent

Are you facilitating internal growth and advancement?

On average, it takes $4,000 and 52 days to fill an open position. But considering that career advancement opportunities are a primary consideration for candidates, you can mitigate this cost by making it a habit to promote from within. Foster continued learning for all agents, and encourage managers to act as mentors, supporting agents in achieving their career goals. Best practices for encouraging internal growth include continuing education programs (both internal and external) and one-on-ones between managers and agents.

Are you giving your agents the tools they need to succeed?

The cost of failure is high in the customer service industry. When customers aren’t happy, being an agent is inevitably unpleasant — and top talent won’t stick around for an unpleasant job for long. Give your agents tools that will minimize backlog, help them respond to inquiries quickly, and help them rapidly resolve tickets. Some such tools include: intelligent triage, ticket deflection through self-service, intelligent response suggestion engines, and new technologies such as chatbots. For a full description of the technologies that can help your agents succeed, check out the full Helpshift Customer Success Toolkit.

Step 4: Repeat

Are you showcasing your excellent employee satisfaction and low turnover rates when reaching out to candidates?

47 percent of job seekers decline offers due to a better one. Make your position that better offer by showcasing everything on this checklist. Demonstrate to candidates that you care about not only hiring them, but building a future with them.

This article is part of Helpshift’s 2018 Customer Success Toolkit. You can download the full version here.

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