Do you agree that exceptional customer service begins with the hiring process? Having the right people on board to do the customer service job is the first step towards delivering outstanding customer service at your business. Akio Morita, Sony Corp. co-founder once brilliantly said: “No matter how good or successful you are, or how clever or crafty, your business and its future are in the hands of the people you hire.” But how do you find the best customer service talents and, most importantly, how do you know if they are actually the right people for representing your brand and serving your customers effectively?
Challenges and Hiring Pains
Hunting for customer service people is no simple task. Too often, the goal of a company is to simply fill a position rather than actually find the right person. Besides, sometimes the people with the right qualifications, experience and skill set do not have the right attitude and mindset to blend in with your team and match your business goals.
Moreover, great service stars can be found in all business areas. If you narrow your search and focus on a specific education background, particular industry or a certain number of years of experience, you might miss out on many potentially great candidates. A resume will only show the previous experience but won’t tell you anything about their personalities.
Forget the Resume, Focus on the Interview
When you hire for customer service, interviewing people is the key to understanding who they really are. The interview should be an audition, the time for your potential candidates to open up and let their personality shine. For instance, at Four Seasons, candidates go through at least four interviews so that managers could find the most appropriate people to deliver great customer service at their organization.
The Ideal Candidate for Customer Service Positions
Sometimes we’re getting too obsessed with hiring a ‘perfect’ candidate. But in fact, it’s nearly impossible to find an ideal candidate because: a) they are already working in other companies; b) you won’t be able to identify them based only on the resume and interview. The good news is: there’s no need to chase for perfection. The most important thing is to know what to look for in your potential candidates and keep that in mind during the interview while asking your questions and analyzing the answers. Here’s some tips to help you along the way.
Tip #1: Hire excellent communicators
Customer service is a people-focused job. Great customer service is all about creating personal, positive connections in daily interactions with customers. That’s why excellent communication skills are a must for customer-focused positions: effective communication creates better relationships and builds trust.
Tip #2: Hire good ears
In customer service, being a great listener is the key to understanding customer’s needs, wants and concerns, especially when dealing with angry customers. A good listener will be able to ask the right questions and figure out the real issue behind customer’s frustration in order to offer the best solution.
Tip #3: Hire team players
Serving customers, especially in large-scale organizations, requires effective teamwork. Team players will build fast and strong rapport with all the team members and will be comfortable working in a collaborative environment with colleagues, management and even customers.
Tip #4: Hire the leaders
Leaders are not only great examples for other team members to follow, they are also excellent problem solvers, responsibility takers and decision makers. Leadership skills are critical in complicated situations when a customer expects someone to take the wheel and offer them a quick and efficient solution.
Tip #5: Hire the right mindset
To effectively serve your customers, a person needs to have a mindset of service, which is not only being always ready to serve others but rather a willingness to go the extra mile for creating a truly positive and memorable customer experiences and making customers happy.
Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills
Customer service people are the face of your brand, and they can actually make or break your company reputation. Once found and hired, you need to put enough effort into regular trainings to make sure they not only perfectly know your products or services, but are also able to serve your customers efficiently while showing the highest level of professionalism.
When you invest in finding great customer service people and training them to be even better, you give your team the best opportunity to grow and succeed within your organization. It will pay you many times over in the long run. Remember, the right people who are able to deliver a truly outstanding service create loyal customers, referrals and the long-term success of your business.
What is your policy for hiring customer service people? Feel free to share!
Provide Support is a leading software provider in customer service, offering live chat and real-time visitor monitoring tool for businesses: www.ProvideSupport.com
Once a company decides they want (or want to continue) to deliver excellent customer service, it becomes up to the people to execute. You can’t do it without the right people who have been properly trained to do so – and have a certain aptitude for customer service. This article is an excellent reminder of the basics we need to be thinking about when hiring people to fit into a customer-focused culture.
Thank you Shep, excellent summing up. Very often, business owners forget that it’s the people who make all the difference.
I agree with your thoughts. This is the best way to find and hire people for customer service.
When I interview customer support representatives, I immediately push the resume to the side and ask them to tell me about themselves (hobbies, interests, pet peeves, etc). I want to know who they are at their core. what I’m trying to uncover is their overall attitude about themselves, others, and the world in which they live. Your article is dead on in regards to hiring the right attitude versus skill set.
Customers are looking for a genuine person who wants to help them on the other end of the phone, email, chat, etc. If the customer has a less than satisfactory experience with customer support, your company’s reputation is immediately in jeopardy. I’m surprised how many companies continue to look at customer support as a costly department versus seeing how it is a revenue protector and producer if the right staff and management team are in place.
Thank you Shane, glad you enjoyed the article. The right attitude and mindset are really much more important than the skill set. Skills can always be developed and improved with the proper management, motivation and training.
Shane, it sounds like you was my interviewer :)))))
when i come to my last interview i was asked to tell some funny stories. I thought what the f… but i told, when we talked about life, things we like, people, politics etc. Interview was more like two friends haven’t seen each other for a while talking about life. And i was hired just after two interviews. And i’m acting same way now. CS is about people and about how whey care about other people. It is about feeling. You can teach everyone, but you can’t teach attitude.
Marius, I can imagine your first reaction, but I guess that’s the ideal interview process to find out what kind of person a candidate really is.
I liked your tips. Absolutely agree with them.
Thanks a lot, Anatoly.
The Organizations that demonstrate great customers service, are those which creates a culture of delivering customer service. It has to begin with the ownershiip and permiate through the organization. Too often we look at cusomers through the lens of front line employees. Everyone from the Ceo through the diswasher must understand and practice what they preach. Treat each other like we treat the customer.(with respect and dignity). A smile goes a long way especially between managers and staff.
Thank you Sidney, perfectly said!
I just wanted to complain that some of the biggest companies have the worst customer service departments. Every single time I talk with Sky over the phone it is dreadful. They are incompetent and some of them are pure rude.
I totally understand you Jane, unfortunately that happens quite often.
Great article, Mary. I’ve been a proponent of hiring the right people for the job for quite a while now. You can always tell a company that hires a warm body and puts them in a seat, and these people can do terrible damage to a company’s brand. Putting the right person in the customer service chair will pay off highly in the form of more satisfied customers, better online reviews, and new customers being driven as a result of great customer experience. In short, I couldn’t agree with you more.
Thank you Errol, outstanding customer service truly starts with the right people!
Thank you, Malika, recruitment tools can surely help too.
I really appreciate your tip to try and find someone who is a good listener and can ask the right questions. My wife and I have been thinking of getting new jobs in customer service so we can get some more money. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and be better listeners!
I love that you mentioned that they should have a great attitude since they can make or break a reputation of a brand or company. My mom should really check how their staff handles customers since she is just starting in the industry. Her online business started getting attention due to the Christmas season becoming near, and she’s been receiving lots of orders that she can’t do on her own. That is why she has decided to seek help from a phone service company.
Thanks for this information on how to hire person for customer service
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