How to Hire the Right Customer Service Representative

To underplay the importance of customer service as a business owner or manager is to spell doom to the business. Good customer service is the lure that keeps customers coming back again and again and bringing new customers with them. Though customer service is not only limited to the interaction between customer service representatives and customers, this is one of the most important aspects of it. This is why hiring the right person for customer service is extremely important. It has the potential of determining the success or decline of your business. A bad hire could cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue, damage to your brand and loss of loyal customers.

To hire the right person, there are a number of considerations to make and important steps to follow. Below is a brief guide to help you.

What Do You Want Out of Your Hire?

If in your business you always strive to satisfy customers, then you should set very high expectations for your customer representative. Most importantly, you need a person that can easily communicate with customers and quickly establish rapport with them. This includes helping them understand things like product descriptions, calmly handling their problems and complaints and making them feel like someone is genuinely listening to them.

Once you have determined what you want your customer service rep to accomplish, it will be easier to choose someone who can fulfill these expectations.

What to Look for in a Potential Hire

One mistake a lot of business make in hiring for customer service is doing skill-based hiring. Simply because someone has experience and skills does not mean that they are the right hires for customer service. What you should be looking for instead are traits. The traits that make up someone’s personality greatly determine how good a customer service agent he or she will be. You can train a person to memorize product descriptions and specs but you can teach someone to be nice or kind.

Here are the most important personality traits to look for:

  • Warm and kind

Look for someone who is naturally kind to other people. Not the kind of forced niceness that many customer service agents portray, but a kind of warmth that is genuine and natural. This is a person who can easily connect with customers on a personal level and make them feel valuable.

  • Empathetic

Perhaps the biggest shortcoming in many customer service reps is the lack of empathy. They are quick to defend themselves or attack the customer without first understanding the situation. Empathy helps a customer service rep understand what a customer is going through. Coming up with the right solution becomes easy.
A lack of empathy is the reason you will find some customer service agents yelling at people who don’t understand a certain technology.

  • Teamwork

You need someone who can work with your other customer service reps and all other employees with ease. Teamwork is essential in giving the best customer service possible. Again, teamwork is something that cannot be taught.

  • Conscientiousness

Customer service work requires the trait of Conscientiousness; this is the ability to focus on every detail, self discipline and persistence until a problem is solved.

  • Optimism

There is nothing worse than a customer service rep that has a negative outlook on all things. Instead of finding a solution to help a customer, he or she will talk of problems that never even existed in the first place. This dark, pessimistic personality is very damaging to a business.
Customer service needs someone who, even in the face of the biggest problems or the most difficult customers, can find a way around and get a solution. This is someone who does not take customer opposition personally and starts fighting back.

  • Openness

As a customer service reps talks to different customer throughout the day, he will encounter a lot of different personalities, ideas and experiences. Remaining open and not being judgmental is crucial in making each and every customer feel accepted. This requires a person who possesses openness to new and sometimes crazy experiences.

  • Emotionally stable

Dealing with scores of people day in day out can put a big strain on one’s emotions. It only takes one slightly difficult customer to get everyone heated up. But this only serves to damage the business’ image and brand.
Emotional stability is very important in dealing with the different types of customers. It is a bad idea to hire someone with anxiety issues or who has weak impulse control.

  • Energetic and social

Whether communication is through the phone or in person, a customer service rep needs to exude energy. This means being a highly social person who can easily create rapport and make the customer’s day a little brighter.

How to Find the Right Person

Now that you have your expectations and what traits to look for, how do you find a person who fits those expectations and has those traits. It takes money, time and effort to make the right hiring decision. The normal interview process will not cut it if you are seeking the best.

Many experts recommend carrying out a personality test. This is an assessment of one’s personality to uncover the traits they possess. Research has already shown personality assessments to be highly effective in predicting job performance and job satisfaction. There are many professionals that are there specifically to administer personality tests. It’s better to invest a lot of money in hiring the right person than risk losing ten times more money because of a bad hire.

Lastly, you need to carry out a comprehensive background check. A person’s background can tell you a lot about their personality. For instance, people with poor credit scores are usually not good hires. This is because poor finances come with added anxiety, a recipe for customer service disaster. A background check is cheap and there is no reason why you should ignore it.

It is tempting to go with the first highly experienced and skilled applicant you come across. Don’t; the well being of your business rests on your ability and willingness to employ the right person for customer service.

This post was written by Brett McIntyre, at Crimcheck.