Hiring Customer-Ready Employees


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In the last two weeks I have been consulting clients on how they can improve their Customer Experience and hire people who are emotionally intelligent and Customer-ready. Hiring the right people for your position is a priority for most organizations, particularly when that position has the responsibility to work directly with customers.

But it is surprising how many organizations don’t give this enough thought. I blame the lack of a Customer Experience Statement (CES), which is a statement that defines the customer experience you want to provide your customers for your employees.

So my question is, if you are hiring customer-facing employees without a CES, how can you know what type of employee you are looking to find? The answer is simple: you can’t. In order to have the right people, you have to know what defines the subjective term “right people”.

 What Does Customer-Ready Mean? Well, That Depends…

Customer-ready is a term from an article I just read by author and consultant Jay Forte, a workplace consultant that wrote Fire Up! Your Employees.  They are ready to “deliver exceptional service” that you want for your customers. But while most organizations have a strong desire for Customer-Ready employees, they really haven’t defined what that exceptional service is.

I agree with Forte on this point. We often find this is true when we consult our clients about their customer experience. We ask them, “What is the experience you are trying to give your Customers?” Many of them have different answers. Part of what we guide them to do in the design phase of their experience is to define exactly what it is that they want to deliver with their customer experience. This is also one of the seven key strategic questions I will  address at my webinar on July 15th.

We call this process defining the CES. This statement tells employees, no matter what department they work in, what the end goal is for any decision they make for customers. The CES defines how an organization wants to create customer loyalty and retention. The CES defines the emotions you are trying to evoke in your Customers.

Once you define what you want, you hire people that are naturally good at evoking these emotions because they are what your organization defines as Customer-ready.

 Build-A-Bear Workshop: A Great Example of Using CES to Define Customer-Ready

In our third book, The DNA of Customer Experience, we explore how some of our clients  accomplished this extraordinarily well using a CES. One example is Build-A-Bear Workshop, who has a goal to supply a consistent experience that makes customers feel cared-for and focuses on their individual needs. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting one of their stores, the idea is that you customize a stuffed animal with different accessories to represent your ideal toy.

 When founder of the company and former “Chief Executive Bear” Maxine Clark hired employees, she searched for people that could guide their customers down the path of their experience so that “by the time they [Customers] were done, they had created the most personalized gift possible.” In other words, she sought people who made their Customers feel cared-for, one of the emotions that drives value for an organization.

Clark said this in our book:

“We hire people with this kind of passion and energy. The first thing we look for is people who care. You can train people how to work registers and how to do numbers but you can’t train people to care, that’s what they come with from their background, from their work experience.”

Clark’s strategy clearly worked for her organization. The company grew to have 400 stores worldwide. Her strategy of matching the right people to these positions resulted in Fast Company’s Award of “Customer-Centered Leader in 2005’s Customer First Awards. Also,  at the time Build-A-Bear Workshop made Fortune’s list of “Best Companies to Work For” the five years running.

What’s Your Definition of Customer-Ready?

 I’m sure by now you think that this is all really great information, but also wondering,  “How do I find these Customer-ready candidates?” That is an excellent question.

I have written before about what to look for in Customer-facing employees: a high Emotional Intelligence (EQ). But while this is important, it is equally important to know exactly what you want them to put the EQ to work for you doing.

My suggestion is that you need a psychological test in the hiring process that identifies how emotionally intelligent the person is. Then look for key characteristics of the type of emotional intelligence you want to use for your experience. Using these guidelines, you can better identify candidates who are Customer-ready.

So before you sort through the applicants for your position or begin the long afternoon of qualifying phone calls or preliminary interviews for those customer-facing positions you need to fill, invest some time defining what you want those people to do for your organization.  By defining the experience you want to provide your customer with a CES, you are able to put that EQ to work more efficiently and effectively with employees that are Customer-Ready.

Do you have a CES for your organization? How does it define your ideal candidate in the interview process? I’d love to hear some of your insight in the comments below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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