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Secrets of a Brighter Workplace


Tips on how to understand, recruit and keep the best people for your business


Recruiting Customer Service Advisors

for an Oil & Gas Energy Company

The Problem

Following a terrible year of bad publicity and exposure on Watchdog as one of the worst companies for customer service, this company decided to make some serious changes to improve the customer service of their advisors in their call centres. In a move to relocate all their call centres back to the UK, they also wanted to change the recruitment process.

They wanted new recruits not only to be able to tolerate the challenges of working in a customer service role in a call centre, but actually to enjoy it. They wanted them to have potential to grow and develop into other roles in the business. They wanted them to understand what it means to put the customer’s needs first, whilst balancing this with business needs. They also redesigned the role in accordance with LEAN methodology, which needed to be reflected in the recruitment approach since they needed to be willing to take ownership of issues, attempt to resolve them rather than pass them on and drive the changes needed to make customer service better.

The Solution

My challenge was to understand this role in depth and design a new process to select these new recruits. Working alongside a couple of other psychologists, I designed an on-line application form for sifting, a situational judgement test and a telephone interview for the first stage. The second stage, a face-to-face aspect, was an assessment centre comprising an interview, role-play, written exercise and case study. Close to 8,000 candidates were assessed, resulting in 1,906 hires that year.

The Outcome

Six months after going live, I undertook a statistical evaluation of the recruitment tools and the results indicated that each part of the process contributed to predicting high performers in the role. However, the bigger impact of these changes, alongside the job redesign and development of their team managers, was huge. The customer saw:

  • Their Customer Service ranking within the industry improve from 6th to 2nd
  • Offer acceptance increase from 67% to 85%
  • CSAs starting the post after accepting an offer increase from 85% to 96%
  • Attrition reduce from 25% to 15% at 13 weeks
  • Overall attrition reduce from 56% to 16%

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