Your customer service team is very frequently your business’s only form of direct contact with customers. Whenever customers have a problem, they will get in touch with a customer service rep and hope to have it fixed for them. Not only that, customers expect a positive interaction with a warm and friendly service rep who is willing to go above and beyond.
This can all be a very tall order for your customer service team. The pressure is on to hire customer service reps who are competent and that can deliver the high level of customer service your business is striving for. Add this to the fact that hiring new employees is very costly, businesses will want to perfect their approach to the hiring process.
It’s your job to find the best customer service rep for the role, which is someone who can withstand pressure with a smile.
It’s no good rushing through this important stage of acquiring new employees for your business. You need to go through the steps of a) accessing a relevant pool of potential candidates and b) streamlining the hiring process to find the right person.
Why hire customer service representatives?
Offering excellent customer service is critical for businesses that want to succeed. For a start, 68% of customers will pay more for products and services from companies that offer a good customer experience. 93% of customers will make a repeat purchase from companies who offer excellent customer service. With that in mind, good customer service impacts your bottom line.
Moving on further, 78% of customers will do business with a company after a mistake if they have excellent customer service. Customer service is critical for preserving your brand’s reputation. You need customer service reps who have the skills and experience for you to create these kinds of experiences for customers.
That’s why you can’t simply hire just anyone. They must embody the values and goals of your company.
Customer service representatives are the public face of your company. They can be the difference between losing and retaining a customer, and affect how customers talk about you to their family and friends. They must be able to solve a wide range of problems, have strong interpersonal skills, as well as communicate intelligently with in-depth product knowledge.
How to hire a customer service representative
Find someone with these top skills
The first thing you need to do is consider carefully the qualities and skills you are looking for in your ideal candidate. It’s no good drawing up a customer service job description if you don’t understand the role you want to fill and what your new hire will be responsible for within the business.
In a previous post, we shared the top seven customer service skills you need to look for in a customer service representative.
- Empathy – empathy is the ability to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and also convey to them that you care about their particular problem. Empathetic customer service reps are able to project warmth and kindness, which is especially important when dealing with difficult or upset customers.
- Respect – respect is related to empathy and involves treating customers like you would wish to be treated. Respectful customer service reps understand that customer service is a two-way street, and are willing to go the extra mile to put customers at ease.
- Clear communication skills – being able to accurately understand a customer’s concerns and communicate back to them (including instructions) is an essential skill for a customer service representative. Speaking clearly when on the phone and typing in complete sentences helps keep the channels of communication open with customers.
- Active listening – active listening involves being actively engaged in the listening process with customers, including hearing their tone of voice, word choice, intent and more. It also means demonstrating to the speaker that you have heard what they were saying.
- Time management skills – customer service representatives are often inundated with tickets so an ability to manage their time is definitely essential. Candidates should be able to prioritize tasks and deal with conflicting demands. They need to have an accurate gauge of how long tasks might take and keep customers updated on their progress.
- Positive attitude – being able to make a good impression on customers is critical for service reps who want to be successful. Taking an upbeat approach to dealing with customers ensures that more effective solutions can be reached and customers will walk away feeling satisfied with your service.
- Ability to ask good questions – asking follow-up questions to tease out the root of the problem behind customer’s requests is essential for good customer service. Customers may not always know what they want and the ability to help the customer figure out what’s wrong is a winner.
Look for someone with career goals
If you want to attract the best job seekers you’ll need to make sure your job descriptions appeal to candidates who are looking for a job that is more than just a stop-gap. Candidates who view customer service as their career make better hires than those who are only working in customer service until they can find something better.
You can tailor your job descriptions to identify relevant experience in another customer service role. This demonstrates that the candidate is specialized in your particular area and would be willing to stay in the job role for a decent length of time.
Dedicated customer service agents are more likely to give their best efforts to the job.
The last thing you want to do is hire someone who moves on to a better offer after a few months. You’ll want to attract a candidate who is invested in building a future with your company.
Make sure your candidate is performance-driven
In order to construct a successful customer service team, you’ll need to hire customer service professionals who are performance driven. Key customer service metrics help you when it comes to quality control and allow you to understand whether your team members are meeting certain standards.
Top quality job seekers should be comfortable being assessed for performance reviews and be committed to continually improving the standard of customer service. They have to be able to balance KPIs like Average Handle Time with Overall Resolution Rate, so they’re able to provide effective solutions as quickly as possible.
Likely candidates should not be threatened by the idea of measuring their performance, but always striving to increase customer satisfaction.
Hire someone with passion for customer service
Along with job seekers who view customer service as a career, you need to find customer service professionals who are passionate about delivering great customer service. These kinds of positive individuals are exactly who you want to have interacting with customers and representing your brand.
That’s why you can consider that exceptional customer service representatives are “born”, not “made”. You can’t teach this kind of enthusiasm if it’s not already present in the individual.
When new hires are passionate about customer service, this makes them more resilient and resistant to the effects of stress because they are able to look at the broader picture.
Post specific job descriptions
The job description is essentially your public advert for your particular job role. You’ll want to accurately convey what your company stands for as well as what you’re looking for in a customer service representative. This includes must-have skills as well as nice-to-haves, which should be properly labeled as such.
The job description should clearly outline the responsibilities that the new hire will have if they are successful for the role. Include the benefits that the job will offer the candidate and state the salary they will be given.
Give some thought to diversity and inclusion, making sure you use language that will appeal to a broad range of candidates. It’s a good idea to stay away from words like “rock star” and “superstar”, as these can alienate some candidates.
Spend as much time as possible on crafting the perfect job advert, because this will help you attract qualified candidates.
Broaden your search for the right candidate
Some companies content themselves with posting on popular job boards such as Indeed and Monster, but these can be notorious for attracting a high volume of unsuitable candidates. It will be down to your job description to exclude applicants who don’t have the right experience or skills.
There are other sources you can use to help you find a source of highly qualified candidates for your customer service representative role.
You can use LinkedIn’s search function to find “customer service representatives” and filter by criteria such as employer and years of experience. LinkedIn Premium allows you to send InMails to individuals who aren’t in your network so you can reach out to likely candidates.
External agencies can be a good route to go down if they understand your requirements and they specialize in customer service. They can shoulder much of the burden of recruitment, freeing up your customer service managers to focus on the interviewing process.
Customer support job boards
There are several specialized job boards tailored to customer service representatives such as Support Driven Jobs and CustomerServiceJobs. These can be a great way to source high quality candidates for your search.
If you attend conferences such as Elevate Summit or SupConf, you can keep your eye out for strong candidates. Even if you’re not hiring at the time, you can save their details to follow up with later, and you have the advantage of being able to meet people in person.
There may be current employees within your company already who may be interested in pursuing a career in customer service. If you look for internal candidates, you know they have the advantage of already being familiar with your company culture.
Asking existing employees to refer candidates can be a good way to take advantage of existing networks. This helps you narrow the applicant pool and you can also provide incentives for employees to recommend someone from their networks.
Offer worthwhile remuneration
If you want to attract the best candidates with experience and skills, you’ll need to offer substantial benefits such as worthwhile compensation. Career-driven applicants will not consider your job description unless you can prove to them that you value customer service within your company.
You’ll have to balance this with what makes sense for your budget, and it’s better to hire one highly-skilled applicant than two average ones.
If it’s an entry level position then perhaps you can make it clear there are opportunities for career development such as training and job shadowing. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not going through the hiring process again in six months because your customer service representative felt they were in a dead-end job.
Evaluate your applications
Once the applications start pouring in you’ll need to go through them systematically to find the best-fit candidates. Not only will you need to check that they have the right skills and experience, but that they seem like they will integrate well with your company’s culture.
Someone might not necessarily have the most customer service experience but they might have transferable skills from other jobs. Be conscious of the language that your candidates use in their resume and cover letter, since you’ll want someone with strong writing skills.
Even if someone doesn’t have 100% of the qualities you’re looking for, they still might be a good choice for the role.
You can include a small test in your application process such as asking applicants to share their favorite movie. This shows that your candidate has the ability to read instructions and pay attention to detail.
Hiring the best customer service representatives is a process. You’ll need to use all of your resources to find appropriate candidates and to create an appealing job role. In order to attract someone who is enthusiastic, skilled, has a positive attitude, and with technical ability, you must show how your company is a great place to work which views customer service as a driver of profit.
Building an amazing customer service team happens one step at a time, each time you hire a new customer service team member and onboard them into your company. If your team is happy, then your representatives will enjoy coming to work and provide an outstanding experience for your customers.
Hiring the best candidate now will save your customer support team a lot of effort and time down the line.
Companies that invest in their customer service teams are on the road to success and can provide an experience to customers that money can’t buy. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, if your customers aren’t satisfied.