Sitel Improves Recruiting and Retention

By Melissa Prusher

Many companies select an outsourcing partner for their call center needs so that they may better focus on their core businesses. Sitel, a global provider of customer contact center services, prides itself on enabling companies to be more effective and efficient by choosing to outsource their call center functions.

As a global service provider, Sitel operates call centers in more than 20 countries in the world. With 11,000 employees in North America and 24,000 worldwide, consistency in the quality of their employees and customer service practitioners is imperative. One challenge faced by their human resources department was improving the effectiveness and efficiency of their recruiting and retention efforts.

“We have such a large volume of applicants and we wanted to cut down on the time it takes to screen them,” said Andie Gordman, Director of Human Resources for the financial services and consumer business units for Sitel North America. “We also had several assessment solutions. Each of our facilities had their own process and we wanted a standard process.”

Sitel turned to KenexaÒ to better manage their recruiting and to standardize the process across multiple facilities. At the same time, the Kenexa’s solutions enabled them to find comparable employees at their different locations – something important to clients who utilize several locations for their call center needs.

“Prior to our partnership with Kenexa, we had to interview every applicant to determine whether they were qualified or not,” explained Gordman. “The way it works now is every applicant comes into the contact center, sits down at a computer and takes several of Kenexa’s tests.”

One such test evaluates personality, experience, thinking ability, and problem solving to provide accurate performance predictions. Such an assessment tool improves retention by selecting candidates best suited to the requirements of the job.

“We have three versions of the tests to evaluate customer service skills, sales skills, and technical support skills,” added Gordman. “The test shows us if a person is a good fit based on what a successful employee profile looks like. Once they pass the first assessment, we use several skills-based assessments so we can test for computer skills, typing, grammar, and spelling.”

The nature of a global call center can require rapidly increasing the number of customer service professionals, possibly by the hundreds, and managing the overall process can be overwhelming. By choosing to utilize assessment tools, Sitel was able to reduce the time it took to screen and select applicants. At the same time, a rapid ramp-up provided the proof that assessment tools are a reliable indicator of an individual’s performance in the company.

“It’s proven that applicants who score higher are better performers,” confirmed Gordman. “We’ve gone through periods of time when we needed to quickly increase our employee numbers and decided to hire people who didn’t score as well on the assessments. We found that they didn’t work out as well as employees who scored higher.

Gordman firmly believes in using an assessment partner and appreciates having a technology solution to narrow down initial candidates. In addition to reducing manpower time scheduling and conducting in-person interviews, she also appreciates the synergy and consistency in the types of applicants they were seeing.

“If I had to pick the key benefit that is making the biggest difference for my company it would be the efficiency of the system,” she said. “One of our major goals is to provide high quality services to our clients in multiple locations. Because our human resources staff is using one tool, regardless of where they are, we are providing consistent types of employees to our clients.”

Gordman acknowledges that the questions asked and information gathered from the Kenexa assessments delivers better candidates and has helped them “define an employee’s strengths and where they’d be a good fit in the organization.”

Kenexa tests are a hosted ASP solution with 100 percent Web-based architecture. The software is designed to run over a low-bandwidth connection for easy access via conventional modem or a corporate Internet connection. Users indicate that it is easy to implement, efficient in managing the recruitment process, and effective in predicting which applicants would best fit in the organization.

“The reason to partner with Kenexa is the definite impact on the quality of the person you can hire,” concluded Gordman.

Melissa Prusher is a freelance writer specializing in workforce technologies. Sitel is a global provider of outsourced customer service interaction services. Kenexa is a provider of software and services for employee hiring and retention.

[From Connection MagazineMarch 2004]