One of the most important jobs we recruit for towards the end of the year is one that we’ve all had experience with — customer service. In 2016 alone, we placed more than 38,000 customer service representatives (aka CSRs) across the U.S. and Canada. We spoke with some Aerotek employees that specialize in recruiting these special professionals to get a better appreciation for what is becoming a diverse skill set across many industries and seasons.It takes all kinds
Sydney Liguori is an Aerotek account manager in Philadelphia. Although the businesses she and her team work with are diverse — ranging across healthcare, utilities and financial services — they all share one thing in common: they need talented CSRs to serve the increasing number of their customers seeking help.
“The demands are different for each business category. In healthcare, many of people calling have complex questions that need resolving. The CSR needs to be pretty up to speed on healthcare and insurance coverage. In financial services, many times you’re speaking with people who have called the 800 number on the back of their card because there are problems with their accounts. With utilities, like third-party electric companies, help calls can turn into more of a consultative sales call, helping customers choose energy plans. So even though the basic core skills for being a great customer care rep are similar, the day-to-day work can be very different from one industry to the next. From a temperament and personality type, we find that the role of the customer service rep truly does take all kinds.”The voice of the brand
For most of us, the only human-to-human contact we ever have with the companies we buy from is the time we spend speaking with their customer service people on the phone. Being the human representatives of the business comes with its pressures — and rewards.
Sydney told us about a contractor her team placed in 2013. “We were recruiting CSRs for one of the largest health insurers in the country. The new health care act was new and being rolled out, and CSRs in this category usually need some grounding in the technical aspects of healthcare delivery and insurance. We sourced a gentleman who had no experience in healthcare, but he had just spent a few years working for one of the country’s largest cable operators. His job was dealing with ”escalated calls”, calls where a customer is not very happy and demand to speak with senior corporate level staff. You really are the voice of the company at this level.”
“As you can imagine, solving the problems of seriously stressed out people with complex problems all day long can require great training for top quality CSRs. So, we took a chance and placed him with our healthcare client. In a matter of months, he went from a short-term contractor, to team leader, then to permanent staff. He’s now a supervisor managing a large group. Solving other people’s problems all day long can be difficult work. It takes a very special kind of human being to do it well, to truly represent the company, and then to train and lead people to do it well together.”Quality over quantity
As with any job, success is measured in several ways. For customer service representatives, performance is usually measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. Rasha Hasan is a recruiter working with Sydney in Philadelphia, and she explains.
“Most of our clients believe in quality over quantity. The number of calls you take is important, but the successful quality of each call has to matter as much — if not more.”
Sydney agrees, “Yes, business dictates that the number of calls handled each shift by a CSR is an important measure of productivity and efficiency. But great CSRs always remember they are in the business of solving people’s problems and caring for their needs. So, each of our clients — in healthcare, finance, energy or any industry —have targeted timeframes within which a call should be completed. Sometimes long calls achieve the highest quality outcomes. Ultimately, it’s just good business to take the time to get a high-quality outcome for every call.”
Rasha illustrated their point with a contractor story. “Not long ago, we placed a CSR as a six-month contractor with one of our top clients. They were having a contest among their CSRs for hitting the top quality scores, with the winner getting an all-expense trip to a beachside resort. These contests are generally only open to permanent employees. But after only a month and half on the job, our contractor had the winning quality scores. Two cool things happened — our client relaxed the rule and let our contractor take the prize and then before she hit her six-month contract term, they hired her on as a permanent employee.”Come for the rush — stay for the career
CSR work can be seasonal in some industries. In the case of healthcare, the annual open enrollment season means a significant ramp-up of temporary hires happens every year, starting in late summer and early fall. In the world of e-commerce, year-end holiday shopping means a big surge in CSR hiring happens during the late fall. And in industries like energy and finance, as regulations change and consumer choices increase, many of our offices see fluctuating hiring surges throughout the year.
Rasha talked about what this means to people looking to jumpstart their career. “We have these surges in demand for people with customer service experience, heading into the fourth quarter to support open enrollment and the increase in holiday shopping and calls. Even though these are short-term contract jobs, we know from experience that good things can happen. If you are down on your luck, looking to break into a particular company or industry, or just ready to explore a career in customer care, it’s a great time to get in and audition the company while they audition you. Employers aren’t going to let go of great CSRs.”
Alex Boorse, a recruiter who works with Rasha finding and placing CSRs, offers one final point. “A lot of people are hesitant to take contract work. But this is one type of work where we find people all the time that start as CSRs on a short-term contract and a within a year or two they’re working in the organization in marketing, human resources, finance or other departments. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, and maybe even build an entire career around a temporary customer service opportunity.“
We’re always on the search for people with great customer service skills and experience. Worked in retail or as a server at a restaurant? Chances are you have the skills to deal with people effectively. Take a look at our open CSR positions in your area, and be sure to keep your free Aerotek career account up to date.