Hiring great LiveChat agents is tough. They are the face of your brand and the first impression for everyone that visits your website. Not only that, but they need to know enough to help customers and think quickly since live chat is a real-time conversational channel.
Having amateur chat agents on your website can really hurt your brand, so the stakes are high when hiring agents. But there are a ton of great agents out there. If you run a good process, you can hire more agents easily and keep quality consistent as you grow.
At HelpFlow, we run 24/7 live chat teams for over 100 e-commerce stores. Over the last 6+ years, we’ve hired hundreds of live chat agents and have a bulletproof process to do it.
Yes, you can hire us to run chat for you (at a lower cost than DIY). But in this post, I’ll dig into our hiring process so you can use it yourself if you want to stay in-house. Let’s get into it.\
Go For Volume on Job Boards
I’m going to show you how we automate much of the initial screening process below. For now though, it’s important to aim for a large number of applicants from your job postings.
Post compelling job openings on the leading job boards in the areas you’re hiring from.
- For example, if you’re hiring in the Philippines, onlinejobs.ph is great.
- If you’re looking to hire domestic or expats, We Work Remotely is a great resource.
Take the time to make the job postings comprehensive and compelling. Don’t just mention the job title and responsibilities. Share a bit of the story of your company, what it’s like to work there, and growth opportunities. This will catch the attention of solid applicants looking through tons of job postings.
Automate Initial Screening
The goal is to get a ton of applications that you can run through a very efficient screening process, so you are only spending time on really good applicants later in the process.
Because live chat is a very specific role, there are a few key things that are important to test for when recruiting:
- English quality- if you’re hiring overseas, it’s critical to make sure that the English quality is professional and natural sounding. The Philippines is great at this, the Middle East not so much.
- Critical thinking/workflow- The agents are going to be helping your customers solve problems. You need to find agents that can think on their feet and work efficiently.
Below are a few simple hacks to screen people out that don’t make the cut on these aspects of the job.
- To test writing quality, ask one or two open-ended questions in the application. For example, ask them to describe a hobby they are into and why they love it in 3-5 sentences. The goal here is to have a question they will not have a prepared answer to, which will require them to write out their thoughts. This gives you a simple way to gauge their writing quality that can’t be easily spoofed.
- To test critical thinking, figure out something about your company that is not well known but pretty easy to find the answer online. For example, who is your CEO, what university did they go to, and who was the coach of the football team the year he or she graduated. This is a random example, but it’s information that can be found pretty quickly with a bit of online research.
You’re not able to easily test their ability to nail the above two things in a fast-paced environment, but this will screen out many unqualified people.
Next, you can test potential hires in action.
Interview Them On Live Chat
Once you have a list of potential applicants, schedule a few for 15 minute live chat interview sessions. This will give you the ability to see them chat and work through problems directly on chat, just like the job you’re hiring for.
The process here does not need to be complicated, but you do need to have a Live Chat software already set up. I will assume you have one as part of your helpdesk software – if you don’t, use a free trial to do this.
Have them come to your website or a hidden page on your website to start a chat at the scheduled time. Once they’re connected, you can give them a little bit of context on what will happen during the interview. Then get started with the below.
Start by asking them another open-ended question, similar to the hobby question in the application. The goal here is to see their quality of English quickly, and also see how long it takes them to type out responses. By using a Live Chat software that enables you to see a visitor’s response before they press the enter button, you can literally watch them work to see if it takes them forever to put together a good quality response.
If they pass that hurdle, ask them to answer a question about your website that should be pretty simple to answer with a bit of navigation and searching on the website. Again, with a more advanced live chat software, you can literally see them navigate through the website, see what searches they are doing, and get a feel for their ability to think on their feet.
The application screening we started with will weed out a lot of unqualified people, but this live chat interview process will help you find the rock stars quickly (and disqualify bad fits in just a few mins). This takes about 10 or 15 minutes of time invested per applicant at this stage, and technically you can run two or maybe three interviews at the same time if you want to scale it.
After that, you can go through your normal final interview steps to gauge culture fit and economics, but the above will help you find great people quickly and consistently.
Need Killer Agents at $3/hour?
At HelpFlow, we provide 24/7 live chat teams for over 100 e-commerce stores. Our agents can chat with your visitors, answer their questions, and drive more sales.
Our pricing model is a flat fee for 24/7 coverage based on how much website traffic you have. All of our plans are structured in a way where you are effectively paying around three dollars per hour per agent that is needed to drive the results we drive on your site. Plus, the ROI we’re able to produce by driving more sales on your website is a no brainer (we cover this in the Strategy Call process upfront if you’re curious).
If you want to continue building a live chat team in-house at a higher rate, the above process will definitely help. But if you’re looking to scale a killer live chat team that drives results and is more cost-effective than running in-house, feel free to reach out.
Jon Tucker is CEO of HelpFlow, a provider of 24/7 live chat and customer service teams for 100+ eCommerce stores. Launched in 2015, their team of agents has produced nearly $100M in chat revenue for a wide range of stores using a conversion-focused approach to live chat.
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