For English, Press One. For barely speaking English, depress more than one!

Many call center managers screen their workers. They require their workers to be fluent in English and have certain capabilities. But, my experience on the phone suggests that this is not always true. Different call centers have different standards. Some don’t seem to have any standards.

It is not easy testing people out. There are different situations that can arise. My strategy is to find situations where most call center clerks fall on their face or fly off the handle. Throw a few curve balls at people and see how gracefully they react. Skill in business is NOT about how you handle daily business. It is about how you strategize, and how well you handle ugly situations.

Americans are sick of dealing with callers who can’t function in clear English. Thick accents, mangled names, and incompetent answers are not going to make you popular. Even those who speak the queen’s English show their true lack of colors when asked to pronounce place names. Los Angeles, Newark, and Tucson are some good ones to test people out with. Try a few Spanish city names in California if you want to throw someone off fast as well.

Another factor to remember is that call centers need workers in a hurry if they have a new project. If you need people fast, you have to take who you can get. If only unqualified people come to the interviews, you have to pick from them. In a situation like this, by definition, you will end up with some substandard people. And since you are in such a rush, you won’t have time to train them either which will make matters worse.

My suggestion: Screen your workers
Never hire people when you need them.
Hire people when you don’t need them, test them, train them, and get them ship shape. That way if they don’t work out, you can fire them before putting them on a critical project. And if they do work out you can train them before putting them on a critical project. Having a little too much labor comes at a cost, but losing a prized client due to having lousy workers is much more expensive! Also, if you hire people when you don’t need them, if you are in a bind and can’t get any good applicants, you will already have someone in house. Large companies have lots of screened people hanging around. They can always transfer from one department to the other if necessary. That way they don’t have to repeat the screening at the last minute all over again!

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