Hiring awesome customer service staff in 4 simple steps


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As we become increasingly comfortable with the internet, online sales are continuing to rise year on year. If you have an online business, you will eventually need to take on more customer service staff. Easy, right? Just place an ad, check out the responses, do some interviews, and it’s all sorted. Back to business!

Wait just a second. Remember why you’re doing it all in the first place. In a customer-centred business, it’s all about the customers. Don’t be sidetracked by thinking in the short-term and hiring anyone who kind of seems like an okay option.

Follow these 4 steps to find the absolute best person to help your customers.

Step 1: Determine your budget for customer service staff

Before you even start writing the job description, think about how much you can pay this new employee. While we might all like to think that people should flock to work at our company just for the sheer joy of it, everyone has to pay the rent. In an ideal world, money wouldn’t be too important. But get real – it is.

The more you can afford to pay your staff, the more committed the staff you’ll win over. That’s reality, too. From a customer’s point of view, who is the most important person in the company? It’s not the founder, the CEO or the marketing manager, but the person responding to their emails, phone calls, tweets and Facebook posts. As far as your customers are concerned, it’s the people they are talking to who make or break your business.

Your aim, therefore, is to find the best customer service staff you can, and convince them to come and work for you. Money is going to be an important factor in that.

Step 2: Draw up a skills wish list

Think about what sort of skills you’re after. While these will vary according to your industry, there are some skills which are universally important. Attentiveness, patience, and good communication skills – absolutely. But don’t overlook skills like acting: there are times when you just have to grin and bear those grumpy customers, type a friendly response and then move on, however irritated you might be.

And how about ‘closing ability’? You want to find someone who can round off an interaction in a timely manner while still remaining personal, ensuring that the customer is satisfied, and all of this without using too many macros. The ideal customer service professional possesses a fine blend of acting talent, tact and writing ability to rival the best professional speechwriter.

Step 3: Sift through the candidates

When you are looking at someone’s résumé, consider this: the first but most important factor an employee needs is that they must actually want to do the job. You are looking for that rare person who actually enjoys solving problems and providing good service. One way of spotting this type of person, even before the interview stage, is by taking a look at the cover letter and the angle it takes.

Reading through the cover letters, you’ll find that many applicants give you reason after reason as to why they really want the job. They think it would be challenging, they want to move into your industry, it’s all about them and what they want. Your ideal employee will look at the situation from your point of view, explaining what they have to offer you and – your customers. That sort of empathy happens to be essential for the best customer service.

Step 4: Put your best foot forward

Yes – you! Something most people forget is that a job interview is not just a time for potential employees to try to make a good impression on the interviewer. The company needs to make a great impression on the candidate. So show off your company culture, be friendly and welcoming, explain the good and bad points of the position, and outline how your team is trying to improve on its weaknesses. In short, leave the candidate thinking: “Wow, that looks like a great place to work!”

And remember: you are looking for someone who will treat your customers with the same care and consideration that you would give them yourself. That’s the person you’re after. Now go and find them.