Widespread shelter-in-place mandates and contact center unions on strike have caused a seismic shift in how companies must manage customer support operations. Organizations have rapidly adapted to a work-from-home environment that leverages cloud services and remote-friendly tools to ensure business continuity and keep employees safe. But, technology is just one piece of the puzzle. Now that agents are working remotely, leaders must also adapt management processes and styles to ensure the right first steps in building an all-star team.
1. Define your ideal agent
It’s important to find optimal candidates for remote work. When hiring new at-home agents, you’ll have a larger candidate pool (as you are no longer geographically restricted), so you can afford to be more selective. It removes most constraints that recruiters typically have to contend with when hiring in a local talent pool, such as geographic proximity to the office and available skills within the local talent pool. As a result, companies can be more specific with their hiring profiles which will allow them to solve unique challenges such as ensuring their workforce is more diverse, has specific or niche skills that would be difficult to find in one geography, is a cultural fit and can work the required schedule.
Take some time to set clear goals and objectives when deciding what you need in a future employee in relation to the role and your company’s culture. When you have a concrete understanding of who you’d like to hire, the hiring process will be much smoother.
2. Recruit right
Once you define your ideal agent, you’ll have a better idea on how to recruit them. Your recruiting materials should be made with the ideal candidate in mind. You can use word-of-mouth on social media, referral incentives and pay-per-click to help. It might also be beneficial to recruit beyond borders as hiring globally will increase the diversity of your team and bring fresh energy and ideas.
The latest trend is using a specialized job marketplace like Talkdesk® CXTalent™ which helps you connect with skilled agents and supervisors who match your hiring needs. It’s simple and entirely online. You may also want to consider relevant certifications that can act as a pre-hire employee assessment. For example, Talkdesk Academy™ offers hands-on training with a contact center interface, testing employees’ ability to learn and adapt to the technology they’ll be using daily if hired. Four levels of certification can be used as a pre-hire toolkit to progress candidates through the interview process and assess their ability to learn and perform.
3. Hire with an open mind
Hiring the best agent doesn’t mean selecting only those who meet stringent criteria. Keep an open mind. Some customers will enjoy speaking with an agent located in a remote location with a nice accent. Sometimes you might need the stay-at-home mom to work for two hours a day. Do not overlook candidates that don’t have all the characteristics you expect because you might miss an opportunity to incorporate some much-needed diversity on your team.
4. Formally welcome them to the team
Once you have made a hiring decision, it’s important that the new agent feels like a part of the team. Welcome them by sending out a company-wide email, a greeting over the corporate messaging tool and consider mailing a welcome package. These actions facilitate a personal connection with the rest of the team and help reduce feelings of isolation and single-player conduct that can worsen during a shelter-in-place period.
5. Have a formal training period
Regardless of new agents’ level of competence or experience, take time to make sure they are onboarded properly. They should all receive the same training manuals, information and the same length of training. Keep in mind when training that remote agents are adapting to your company and to a WFH environment. Allow them the flexibility to change their schedule or their workspace to feel more comfortable and committed. Finally, during the training period, be sure that the agent is excelling, motivated, disciplined and requires minimal managerial supervision.
Hiring a team of at-home agents can bring incredible benefits to a company. By following the steps above, you can easily transform your workforce into a flexible, global and agile team of at-home agents.