We all remember the early 2000s, when the business pages in newspapers would only talk about the BPO and the ITES industry and how they were bringing in multi-million dollar offshore deals from all over the world. For the past 19 years, despite hitting slumps and bumps along the way, the BPO business has been surging ahead unabated and is showing no signs of slacking. As per an Economic Times report, the BPO/ITeS sector registered the highest rise of 24% in hiring during May 2017. While the hiring numbers dipped a little in 2018, the second half of 2019 witnessed a rise in demand for new recruits.
An IBEF industry report indicates that India accounted for approximately 55% market share of the US$ 185-190 billion global services-sourcing business in 2017-18. As a result, India added around 105,000 jobs in FY18 and another 250,000 new jobs this year. For a business that is estimated to grow to US$ 350 billion by 2025, one can only postulate the huge spurt of employment it will create for our country. Talent acquisition leaders are going to have their hands full if they don't start gearing up for the hiring onslaught. What makes the job a little more complex is that the parameters for hiring are unique for BPOs because of the nature of their business.
A Business Process Outsourcing company typically has more than 50% of its employees in a client-facing role, and for that reason, ensuring high customer service standards becomes critical. A greater part of this workforce comprises of fresh graduates or what is known as Generation Z, which implies they come with 0-2 years of work experience for entry-level positions. But it is the characteristics of this generation that has made BPO companies recalibrate their hiring strategy. Who are these people? What would it take to hire them? How are they different from the other talent segments? Well, for one, they have little patience, expect quick promotions and are not averse to hopping jobs for slightly higher salary or designation.
Unfortunately, a normal workday for a recruiter at a BPO reflects the same truth: Out of a mixed bag of fresh recruits that started working the floor a month back as customer care representatives, 2-3 of them have already quit, a couple more display chronic absenteeism. The recruiter is bogged down with hiring and refilling roles so much that there is hardly the time to operate under any real evaluation structure or conduct a customer service assessment test to measure the candidates’ competencies.
The BPO industry is therefore constantly plagued by high attrition, coupled with increasingly higher standards of customer experience management. At some places it is so bad that attrition is between 60-90% for customer service roles. In this kind of a situation, we cannot stress enough on having an extremely controlled talent evaluation process that is not only accurate and efficient but also future-proofs the enterprise’s recruitment needs. To enable correct hiring at scale and with reduced costs, we suggest implementing the 3P Strategy for hiring the best talent:
For hiring the best people in your contact centre, you need to know the archetypal attributes of your talent pool. Like we’ve mentioned earlier, ‘freshers’, or people entering the workforce are a different tribe. They are the quintessential digital natives; ambitious, independent, craving feedback and not afraid to try new things. For the role that you have in mind, you need some facts and figures:
- What have been the previous hiring patterns?
- What was the attrition rate?
- How long did the average employee stay in his job?
- What were the biggest reasons to quit?
Taking all these factors into account, create a list of defined measurable parameters that can be fed into call center assessment tools, which can then evaluate the quality of fresh applicants on their on-the-job competencies as well as their soft skills for ensuring superior customer experience.
Volume hiring is intrinsic to BPOs, therefore if you want to seize the best talent, you need new age assessment solutions to empower your hiring strategy. Some HR Tech companies have captured this space and introduced ITES-specific, simulation-based assessments e.g. an automated customer service skills test that can measure these competencies to reduce time-to-hire and agent attrition. Aspiring Minds' suite of talent assessment tools for the ITES industry provides call-centre simulations that replicate on-the-job environment for effective assessment. They can help you select and hire high-performing call center agents and customer service representatives using fair and reliable job simulations, language assessment tests and situational judgement tests. For e.g. a Customer Service Aptitude Test can evaluate how candidates handle real-world job situations while measuring problem-solving skills, soft skills, process discipline etc.,
Another intriguing product is the English Proficiency Test. Candidates apply from all over the country and their spoken English carries the accent of the place they grew up in, which can subconsciously bring in recruiter bias. The English Proficiency Test supports multiple native accents and accurately scores language comprehension, written English, grammar, listening skills, spoken English and fluency. For other, non-customer facing roles too, Job Simulations expose candidates to real work scenarios where they can gauge their reflexive responses, their natural voice intonations and their capability to work within laid down company protocols.
Anything that is implemented ad-hoc will get diluted over time and then eventually lose its efficacy. The same holds true for any assessment structure you put in place. A hiring process is a good process if it can be replicated over time and provides consistently good outputs over a period. Aspiring Minds' highly accurate, automated assessments can go a long way in standardizing your recruitment workflow and building a scalable, future-ready talent selection architecture.
The key expectation of any BPO candidate assessment process is that it should select superlative talent, because these employees will be the one representing the brand and ethos of your clients. Using technology that utilizes voice recognition, artificial intelligence etc. and filters out non-qualifying candidates can give you a huge advantage in terms of eventual training costs, employee job satisfaction and client happiness. How would you like to explore such an intricate yet easy-to-use piece of technology today?