What to Look for When Hiring a Customer Service Representative


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What would you consider the key component of your business to be? The products or services themselves? Or maybe the power of your brand?

If you were to ask some of the top organizations on the planet, they’ll likely say it’s their customer service. How you interact with customers, quell uncertainty, and solve problems dictates your staying power in increasingly crowded industries.

If you’re not paying attention to customer service, something is off and priorities need to be realigned.

The foundation of good customer service

Customer service is an all-encompassing term that can refer to everything between how you associate with customers in your retail store to the responses you give to agitated followers on Twitter. At the heart of good customer service, however, are people.

You need people to humanize your brand, develop trust, and make customers feel comfortable with your service offerings. Despite the fact that people are the pillars of good customer service, too many businesses fail to invest in their customer service representatives.

Instead, they regard their reps as unfortunate necessities and spend little time overseeing the hiring process, offering ongoing training, or offering performance-based incentives.

What to look for in a potential hire

If you want to be a company that shines at customer service, you need to start with people. You should focus on hiring the best customer service reps you can find, so you can focus your business in the best direction.

Here are some of the characteristics you’ll want to look for in customer service candidates:

  • Attentiveness. Attention to detail is an essential skill. It shows that the individual is capable of staying focused and picking out the vital elements in a conversation. In most cases, a customer service rep will be interacting with customers over the phone, so you want candidates with great listening skills.

  • Personality. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than a customer service rep who’s dull and impersonal. You want to hire people that have personality and exude excitement. These are the kind of people you want fighting for your brand.

  • Patience. You can’t overlook patience in the hiring process. Customer service reps require more patience than the average person, and you’ll generate a high turnover rate if you don’t understand this from the start. The best way to gauge patience is to contact former employers and coworkers.

Interview questions to ask

In addition to handling call centers, customer service reps in 2015 frequently deal with social media interactions. When you’re looking at how to handle this aspect of customer service, Park View Legal’s Facebook page offers a good example of how to manage interactions efficiently.

If you want customer service reps that are well rounded and capable of handling both phone calls and online interactions, you’ll need to develop a list of effective interview questions to weed out the pretenders and home in on the contenders.

Here are three questions you’ll want to include on your list:

  • “Who have you spoken with so far in the interview process and what did you discuss?” This question is incredibly telling. The answer tells you whether the person can remember names and details, or he or she is simply sliding through the process.

  • “How would you respond to a customer if you don’t know the answer to their question?” The answer here is less about what they would actually do and more about whether or not they have a clear and immediate strategy. If the question confuses them now, it’s likely to stymie them when they’re on the job as well.

  • “Have you personally tried our product/service?” The answer to this question will tell you about whether the candidate has done his or her homework. You want proof that they’ve either tried your product/service, or at least done enough homework to know what it does and how it works.

Next time you’re ready to hire a new customer service rep, start the process by looking at the above characteristics and asking the powerful interview questions. Your company’s customer service is too important to ignore.

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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