Running a company can be complicated–especially when you realize you need to grow your team. The business of customer service has grown consistently, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of customer service representatives will have grown by 5% between 2016 and 2026. If you’re looking to join the ranks and expand your customer service team, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Not everyone is fit for the customer service realm; those with tempers, a potty mouth, or poor interpersonal skills can wreak havoc on your company’s overall reputation. According to one study, 44% of US consumers switch to a competitor when they receive poor customer service. If you’re not planning to be a part of that statistic (unless, of course, you’re the competitor being switched to!), then read on.
Have you ever interacted with a customer service representative who just rubbed you the wrong way? Whether it’s a curt reply during small talk, lack of energy or enthusiasm in their conversation, or an inability to articulate well, all of these are surefire indicators of trouble for your customer service team.
Here’s what to look out for instead:
There’s nothing more disappointing than feeling like the customer service representative you’re speaking to isn’t on your side. When you realize the person who you’re interacting with has nothing to lose if your issue isn’t properly resolved, it can be difficult as a customer to feel positively about your product or company as a whole. It can also have a domino effect on your team’s success. That’s why it’s imperative that the people you hire are an extension of your brand, and show the same commitment to resolving issues as the owner of the company would.
Additionally, empathy boosts your bottom line. According to Harvard Business Review, the ten most empathetic companies on their list increased their values by more than double those at the bottom.
Glassdoor suggests asking these questions when hiring for empathy:
Both of these questions can be used to understand a candidate’s values and how they expect their individual actions to affect the team as a whole. By evaluating these responses, you can get a better idea of how self-aware they are and the motives behind the things they do–thus predicting how empathetically they will respond to situations in the future.
“Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while waiting.” – Joyce Meyer
Most of us are acutely aware that one of the most essential characteristics a customer service agent must possess is patience. How do we know this? In general, the process of interacting with customer service can sometimes feel like a waiting game. Whether it’s long hold times with cheesy 70s music or being rerouted from agent to agent, by the time a customer finally gets to their representative, it’s likely that the customer is more cranky than content.
It’s incumbent on business owners to understand this and to anticipate working with customers who may not be thrilled to be speaking to you. And it’s even more important that you have agents on your team who know that they are not victims but rather agents of empowerment with the ability to turn things around.
When hiring for patience, here’s what to look for:
No one likes miscommunication. According to research from Shapiro Communications, 80% of complaints to companies are due to “poor communication.” Often, when a miscommunication is part of a customer service mixup, there tends to be a lot of finger pointing in both directions. In the end, no one wins, and the customer walks away from the situation feeling unhappy and disappointed.
Here’s how to spot a good communicator:
Attentiveness is a trait that’s characteristic to nearly all luxury brands and high-end products. But you don’t have to wait on your customers hand and foot in order to provide quality customer service. Being attentive to your customers doesn’t mean sucking up; all it takes are basic skills to create a world-class experience for your customers.
Here’s what you should look for in an attentive person:
In the end, building your customer service team is up to the individuals who comprise it. Choosing people who embody traits that focus on the customers’ needs and your company’s goals are essential to optimizing the customer experience and your company’s success.