Based in Draper, Utah, 1-800 Contacts is the entrepreneurial triumph of Jonathan C. Coon, the company’s past president, and his co-founder, John F. Nichols. Born in 1995, the genesis of 1-800 Contacts first stemmed from Coon’s idea that there had to be a better way to buy contact lenses than through traditional brick & mortar stores.
Close to 30 years later, a lot has changed since the inception of 1-800 Contacts, but the ethics have managed to remain the same: to create a world where eye health, not kick-backs to doctors, determines a person’s options.
Advancements in technology now mean that with the help and guidance of 1-800 Contacts, anyone can take control of their own vision care. As a business model, the process is pretty simple.
1-800 Contacts lists the brands of contacts it offers online, and once a customer selects their prescribed brand, they upload a picture of their prescription or enter the details manually. Once 1-800 Contacts verify the prescription, the organization ships the lenses to the customer’s home. As one of the first direct-to-consumer models in the vision industry, 1-800 Contacts also offers a “Gajillion Percent Promise” on millions of contact lenses in stock with a best-price guarantee.
Aside from unrivaled access to products, 1-800 Contacts is also famous for offering some of the best customer service in the industry. Retaining this reputation means a lot of interest from prospective employees. With job applications in the tens of thousands every year, the Talent Acquisition team at 1-800 Contacts knew there had to be a better way to identify top customer service talent.
The ongoing struggle with identifying and verifying the right skills
Prior to partnering with Vervoe, 1-800 Contacts offered basic skills assessments to grade literacy and basic technical skills. Candidates were ranked on a generic percentage, and the skills assessment offered little forms of customization to showcase what a day in the life at 1-800 Contacts was really like. How could they give a real job preview when the applicants were all interviewed remotely?
With a high call center attrition rate, Jill Bailey, Talent Acquisition Partner at 1-800 Contacts, knew there had to be a way to get top talent in front of hiring managers at a faster pace and move the application process to a more streamlined approach.
“We’re proud of the fact that we have a higher average tenure than many other call centers, but finding the right fit for the jobs in the call center was proving difficult. People think that customer service over the phone is easy, but once they get into the role, they then realize it takes more skill than they expected. We knew that solving attrition in this department had to come from the very first stages of the hiring process.”
After sharing the company’s goals and vision for the future, Vervoe’s behavioral science division wasted no time in getting to work to build a custom skills assessment. 1-800 Contacts was curious on how the assessments could not only uncover technical skills, but other behaviors or “soft skills” such as resilience, empathy, and active listening.
Instead of using one generic skills assessment to be deployed for a variety of roles, Vervoe built three: Customer Service, Warehouse, and Chat Agent. This way, 1-800 Contacts could incorporate skills testing specific to each role to ensure a better fit.
To keep candidates engaged, the skills assessments included a variety of text, audio, and video-based questions, in addition to other role-specific inclusions like typing tests and job simulations – but did it work?
Custom skills testing unlocked surprising benefits
For 1-800 Contacts, the primary goal of partnering with Vervoe was to reduce attrition through improving their quality of hire. By defining what good, better and best looks like in their own terms with a platform capable of pivoting with them, Jill reported positive results after only a few months of usage.
“Our ability to hire and talk to higher quality candidates faster has been a game changer for us. Instead of taking four to five days in a stage, once the candidate completes our Vervoe assessment, they can be automatically moved to an interview. Seeing an improvement in the quality of our hires has been worth the investment. As an added plus, we have been able to use our time better.”
However, using Vervoe hasn’t been exclusive to external hiring. In fact, 1-800 Contacts recently leveraged one of the custom assessments as a tool for existing employees wanting to move from one department to another.
Even if those internal associates are not a fit for that specific role, Jill and her team are able to utilize the assessment to provide feedback about gaps in skills and ways they can partner with their manager to prepare for future opportunities. As a solution for both the company’s internal needs and the associates’ desires to learn more, this has been a great way to help see the gaps internally.
This example has helped lead the groundwork for conversations about internal mobility and using Vervoe to facilitate that. According to Jill, Vervoe has proven to be great to help find both internal and external talent.
“I really have enjoyed seeing the results Vervoe has provided. While we have only been using the assessments for a few months, it has helped us to narrow and focus on the best candidates, leading to faster hiring and higher quality. I am so happy we have decided to partner with Vervoe in our hiring process.”