Research suggests that as many as 3.5% of the UK’s working population works in a contact centre environment. It’s an industry which was estimated to be worth £21,500,000,000 in 2018, and is expected to be 50% larger in 2025. These workplaces often see high employee turnover and relatively inexperienced staff. However, they are responsible for delivering customer service on behalf of some of the biggest brands in the World. How can contact center managers ensure consistent performance from agents? They turn to specialist contact centre skills testing – and this is how they do it! Why do contact centers use skills testing software? Contact center managers typically turn to skills testing for evaluating job applicants and for ongoing agent training. The nature of the sector is such that a new hire might join the industry with very little in the way of experience, and – to retain good agents – a significant focus is placed ongoing on skills development. What types of skills required by a contact centre agent? The modern contact center is a sophisticated environment. The perception of what used to be known as a call center worker being a telemarketer delivering tired quotes from a formal script is long forgotten. The contact centre of today may expect an agent to deliver customer satisfaction, to sell, to support, to handle inbound and outbound calls or to use live chat or social media. The delivery of customer service via contact centers has always been highly competitive. Today, however, new forms of competition come from automation. Chatbots, some believe, have the potential to disintermediate the role of the contact center agent. As a result, to be successful, a contact center needs to be able to demonstrate that it can deliver superior customer service across a variety of communication channels. To do this successfully requires agents that deliver consistently on best practices. Which “hard skills” does the contact centre agent need? In the context of a contact center, hard skills might include the ability to enter information quickly and accurately from the phone. Soft skills might be the ability to persuade, to demonstrate empathy, or calm an irate caller. Soft Skills testing for agents Generally speaking, our contact centre clients will evaluate employees using our call handling, teamwork, and complaining customer” tests. Many of our clients also use personality tests. These are sophisticated tests that provide detailed results – there is no pass mark as such. For example, a call handling scenario might see an agent listen to an unhappy customer and be prompted to make decisions at each stage of the customer journey. Scores reflect not just the decisions that are taken, but the speed of the decision making and the consistency of the choices. The results of these tests can identify areas of potential development for agents. For example, a test might identify that individual agents are stronger than others at upselling – this might lead to a more efficient allocation of staff within the contact center, or the opportunity to train staff to perform better. Examples of soft skills assessments used by contact centres include: – Assessments designed to assess personality traits (also known as psychometric testing) – Call handing tests – Complaining customer tests – Team working tests Hard skills assessments Hard skills typically required within a contact centre environment might include the ability to take down information over the phone and record it accurately in a CRM. Again, contact center solutions for skills testing will provide realistic scenarios and will review the performance of the potential candidate based on both the speed and accuracy of the information entered. Our most popular “hard skills assessments” used by our clients include: – Data entry & typing tests – Custom tests designed to assess the agents’ awareness of a specific industry or product What should you consider when buying contact centre skills testing solutions? First and foremost is the quality and scope of the tests themselves. The nature of the contact center is that it needs to be flexible in the service it provides its clients. Most modern vendors offer a range of soft and hard tests, but also offer the ability for a contact centre to produce its custom reporting and analytics. Secondly – and often forgotten – is data privacy. GDPR and privacy is a huge issue in the contact centre industry. Generally speaking, the focus is on customer data, but organisations also have a responsibility to employees. Ensure that your chosen product stores data securely and in a compliant manner. Next up, is the ability to integrate your tests into your preferred workflow management product. Modern products do not stand alone; to help a contact center increase efficiency, they need to integrate with other systems. Ensure that any provider has an API (programming interface) to allow you to integrate with other critical systems. Finally, it’s essential to select a supplier you can rely on. The success of your contact center primarily comes down to the customer experience that it delivers. In turn, this is based primarily on the performance of your agents. As a result, finding a vendor with knowledge of and experience in your sector – ideally one that has many years of experience – is an important consideration. Contact Center Agent Tests – What do they cost, and how do you buy them? ISV.Online offers a wide variety of contact centre skills testing solutions from as little as £1 per testee. To learn more and arrange a free trial call us on 0800 051 9410, fill in this brief form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org ***** ISV.Online is the leading supplier of skills testing software and services to the UK Recruitment Industry. Used by 9 of the top 10 UK agencies, by number of offices, and 7 of the top 10, by revenue, ISV.Online offers candidate skills assessment and evaluation software and online training tools, allowing agencies and in-house HR/recruitment teams to validate the skills of potential candidates and existing employees across a wide range of areas.