Atlanta-based LOMA says it has developed a hiring tool that will enable insurance companies to combat the problem of frequent employee turnover in the customer contact center operation.

The tool, LOMASelect-Service Index, “is designed specifically to measure a core set of job fit dimensions critical to long employee tenure and job success,” LOMA says. “Rather than measuring whether an applicant will have the skills to do the job, LOMASelect-Service Index successfully measures whether the applicant will like to do the job.”

According to Barbara Kruse, second vice president, LOMA Employee Assessment Products and Services, “Turnover in contact centers is almost universal.” She notes that in the companies she works with, the turnover rate within such centers is “much higher than in the rest of the organization.”

This trend even continued during the recent economic downturn, she adds.

Kruse says LOMAs Web-delivered testing platform measures detailed dimensions such as:

Orientation toward customer servicethe preference employees have toward working with others; whether or not they like working with the same people each day or with different people; whether or not they like to work with people who have needs and complaints, and whether or not they can handle such people without taking the interchanges personally.

Job structurepreference for working in a job that has many rules and procedures vs. a more free-form atmosphere. Also, tolerance for doing repetitive tasks.

Work environmentwhether or not employees like to work quickly, provide fast-paced quick answers and are not interested in working on long projects, and if they can tolerate sitting at a desk for a long time.

Such information, which is generally unavailable via background checks, interviews or traditional assessment methods, “makes a huge difference in contact center turnover rates,” says LOMA.

“We dont ask the questions directly,” explains Kruse, adding that no standard psychological tests are utilized. “This is an instrument we created ourselves based on our research in call centers.”

In developing the tool, Kruse says LOMA tested job incumbentsthose working 6 months or more in call centersand looked at the relationship between a high score on the test and reported degree of job satisfaction.

“We got extraordinarily high correlations,” she reports. “Were really excited.”

Another study was conducted at a large retail customer service organization using a “similar” tool that is being marketed by LOMA partner Aon Consulting outside of the financial services industry, says Kruse. This study looked at actual turnover and job satisfaction and found a high relationship between doing well on the test and reduced turnover.

“People who scored in the top half were 40% less likely to turn over than those in the bottom half,” states Kruse.

By using the LOMA tool to measure job fit, companies can “select new hires that will be more satisfied with their work and stay longer in customer service positions,” LOMA says. “Such honing of the selection process reduces turnover and lowers overall contact center operations costs.”

The cost of this tool to carriers is $12 per test taker, including test administration and scoring, says Kruse. “People take the test online. We require that they take the test in a monitored, secured environment,” she adds. “We work only with companies. Thats part of the way we maintain the security of our testing system.”

In addition to the per-test charge, LOMA charges an initial $465 setup fee for the first geographic location and $70 for each additional location, says Kruse. Companies can use as many workstations as they like at any particular location.

To implement the tool, companies must conduct “a small job analysis to show that their jobs are like the jobs in our study,” she explains. “It takes a couple of weeks. We analyze the results and get them up and running in about 3 weeks.” No further implementation is needed.

LOMASelect-Service Index is being marketed only in the insurance and financial services industries, says Kruse. The tool has been sold to both life and property-casualty carriers, with about 60% of the business being in the p-c sector.

Further details are available at www.loma.org/empselect.asp.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, January 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.