shutterstock_80087230Introduction: This blog post is adapted from the authors’ contribution of Chapter 7 ” “How to Measure Contact Center Skills Using Multimedia Simulations” ” in Simulations for Personnel Selection publish by Springer.

Contact centers offer companies a critical competitive advantage by providing high levels of service and customer care. Most contact center jobs require employees to interact with customers who can range from being friendly to hostile, while navigating a complex array of databases that provide access to customer and product and/or service related information. Contact center employees usually perform these activities under time pressure and with sophisticated systems monitoring their communication style, reliability and performance. The combination of job complexity, speed, oversight and an endless stream of customers causes significant psychological strain that overwhelms ill-suited and inept employees, leading to burnout, absenteeism and attrition.

So what type of job competencies do contact center employees need to have in order to be successful?

To answer this question, FurstPerson surveyed nearly 3,000 subject matter experts (supervisors, incumbents, trainers, and managers) from 16 countries and five continents. The survey uncovered 15 universal competencies (see chart)  that are important to success for six of the most common contact center jobs (customer care, inbound sales, technical support, customer retention, collections and outbound sales), regardless of whether the job is performed in a home or traditional office. These 15 competencies reflect personal responsibility, effective communication, emotional control, as well as comfort with change, technology and simultaneous work activities.

comp-chart2-p18mudm4m59svhog1brsf9c1mfrThere are also competencies that are more specific to a job type (such as persuasiveness for outbound sales) or the job environment (such as autonomy for home office jobs). Understanding job- and environment- specific competencies for each position you need to fill is key to maximizing your likelihood of success when assessing and placing candidates.