As more and more parts of the customer journey are digitized and automated, the role of front-line customer service staff is evolving. Through the use of clever technology they are seeing much of the mundane and repetitive parts of their jobs eliminated. This is allowing them to spend extra time on solving more complex customer issues as well as developing deeper emotional connections with customers.
Given the changing nature of front-line customer service roles many companies are starting to question whether traditional methods of recruitment are best suited to identify the higher-level communication, empathy and problem-solving skills that these changes require.
Previously, I have written about Wayfair and how, I believe, they are ahead of the game in terms of how they are approaching the identification and recruitment of a new type of customer service talent to meet this challenge.
Briefly, they have developed innovative techniques like an Escape The Room challenge and have run a recruitment stand at a local comic-con event, to help them identify and recruit the right sort of talent that they need to maintain the high levels of service that their customers are demanding.
However, they are not alone in responding to these changes and, on the back of my original piece, I’m starting to see more and more firms adopt innovative hiring practices.
For example, Lyft has created a mixer/speed dating type recruitment method that both helps relax candidates and allows their true interests and personality to come out in a less structured environment. It also allows candidates to meet more people from the company and enables them to have genuine conversations with their potential and future team members. Feedback from the process has been extremely positive, even from those who haven’t received an offer of employment.
Meanwhile, Citizen M, operate ‘Casting Days’ when they are looking to hire new “Hotel Brand Ambassadors”. What happens is that they invite a range of candidates to a day-long event, where they are broken into small groups and then asked to participate in a number of different activities including sharing stories about their personal heroes, drawing an object that best describes their personality and participating in a group art project. Throughout the day, the candidates are observed to see how they conduct themselves, how they describe themselves and how they interact with others.
I have also been told that these Casting Days are often scheduled to start early on Sunday mornings or even on public holidays as a way of testing the candidates desire, commitment and interest in joining the Citizen M team.
Whilst these examples are both exciting and interesting initiatives and they show us what is possible when faced with trying to identify and recruit the right sort of people, they are not easily scaled. This is particularly true if an organization is going through a period of rapid growth and needs to hire hundreds of new customer service team members over a very short period of time.
A company that has gone through this challenge a number of times in the last few years is Voxpro – powered by TELUS International. They provide global, multi-lingual, outsourced customer service support for some of the world’s largest brands such as Airbnb, Nest, Google & SuperCell and have grown from 800 employees in 2015 to well over 3000 at the present time and expect to be at over 5000 employees by the end of this year as they keep pace with the demands of their rapidly-growing clients.
Now, whilst they are looking to hire the same sort of people with the same sort of attributes and skills as companies like Wayfair, Lyft and Citizen M, they exist in a very fast paced and constantly changing environment. As such, they only recruit people that can thrive and be happy in that type of environment.
In fact, Brian Hannon, the chief commercial officer at Voxpro, told me that this is so fundamental to their success that it is enshrined as one of their core values:
“Brace Yourself: There is no such thing as a normal day
We are agile. We are Dynamic. We are the chameleon. We think on our feet and push for the extraordinary.”
In turn, ‘Brace Yourself’ frames much of their recruitment efforts, particularly when it comes to hiring customer service team members, but it only goes part of the way in explaining how they are able to attract, identify and recruit such large numbers of new staff in such short periods of time.
To do that they are supplementing their hiring process by using AI testing, through virtual interfaces, to gauge how receptive potential employees are to change. To do this they employ qualitative methods and cognitive and emotional intelligence evaluations to best assess cultural fit, their ability to thrive in a fast moving environment and a candidate’s ability to deliver what they call ‘beautiful customer experiences’.
This approach has proven to be especially valuable in mass recruiting scenarios, such as in customer service delivery, as they can accurately analyse hundreds of thousands of data points to ‘zero in’ on the top candidates for specific roles.
What I find really interesting about their approach is that they show that even when faced with massive scaling challenges, they were able to find an innovative and creative way of identifying the right people with the right human attributes, many of which are sometimes very hard to codify and exhibit in more traditional mass recruitment scenarios.
That, in turn, allows to them to continue to maintain the high customer service standards of brands like Airbnb, Nest, Google & SuperCell.
This post was originally published on Forbes.com.
Thanks to MoneyConf for the image.