The Modern Challenges of Financial Services Contact Centre Recruitment

Your company’s recruitment process may seem tried and tested – but what do would-be employees really think of the system that decides whether or not they get the job? And once they’ve gained the hoped-for post, does their real-life experience of work with their new employer match the message they were given during the selection process?

Adam Gordon of Rise Consulting, part of the fast-growing Murray International Holdings owned Rise Group, has just completed a detailed analysis of attitudes among both contact centre agents and candidates in the financial services sector.

The exercise also covered those in training with the companies and those who recently started work following training.

And although his research has disclosed some very worrying trends, it has also helped identify a number of practical and positive remedies.

“The single most obvious fact to arise from our findings is that the experience of a job does not, for many new employees, match the picture they were given during the selection process of how things would be – there can be a stark divide between perception and reality,” he said.

He adds that this in turn can rapidly cause discontent and lead to high staff turnover.

The project was carried out in partnership with major Scottish financial services contact centres with a natural inbuilt interest in devising the best possible recruitment system, and had the particular objective of reducing attrition among both candidates and new starts.

Another goal was to use the information gleaned to enable the various companies concerned to gain a better return on recruitment spend, while at the same time maximising the longevity of contact centre agents’ employment.

Adam Gordon attained the evidence through facilitating confidential focus groups, and after thorough examinations of the findings, arrived at some interesting key conclusions about the employment process and where it can come badly unstuck.

For example, some candidates felt the recruitment experience was quick and efficient, while others thought it too long – and in some cases candidates reckoned their recruitment agency was unsupportive in the recruitment process after the initial meeting with their potential employer.

The work also disclosed that recruitment agencies seldom received suitable feedback on candidates from the company concerned, and the way interviews were arranged was inconsistent, leading to major communication problems.

Many candidates were frustrated that the terms of their job, such as shift times, had varied significantly by the time they started the job – which in turn led to lack of trust – while those already in a job found the experience inflexible and inconvenient.

Another negative was the impression gained by some candidates that staff turnover at their prospective employer is very high. Some companies give the impression they are recruiting constantly to back-fill leavers’ jobs whereas in many circumstances, ongoing recruitment is created as a direct result of business success and expansion.

“The positive side of this exercise is that we did identify several very practical ways of improving the situation in our recommendations,” said Adam Gordon.

Some remedies focus on the mechanics of interview times and start dates – the report recommends shift patterns shouldn’t vary between interview and start date – and also that firms should offer more flexible interview times to candidates who are already in a job and therefore need time off to attend interviews. But others centre more on the question of “perception”: for example, the report stresses candidates must understand there’s ongoing recruitment because of growth rather than severe attrition.

Training is also thoroughly covered – for example, Gordon argues training should be tailored so that workers with sales experience can move on to the job proper more rapidly – removing frustration and allowing the contact centre workers to become profitable more quickly.

Another recommendation centred on perception is the insistence that training shouldn’t intimidate people – references to disciplinary meetings with HR should be removed and replaced with an emphasis on the positives.

It’s also relatively easy for contact centre workers to become disheartened if they aren’t getting the same information as those already in the job: Gordon found those surveyed are often told they will be given information during their trial period, but at the same time they can see other teams over-achieving their targets – which is demoralising.

Adam Gordon comments: “In a competitive sales environment, the best performers are not always at an advantage by sharing the reasons for their successes. Companies should extract hints and tips from the best performers and create channels for knowledge sharing.”

For further information contact Adam Gordon on 0141 225 8540 or at Rise, Highlander House, 58 Waterloo Street, Glasgow G2 7DA.

Contact: Sally Matheson
Phone: 0141 353 1515