4 Make-Or-Break Customer Service Skills and How to Find Them
Today’s post is by Ken Crowell
The pandemic and economic and political turmoil has Americans stressed out, making customer service skills more important than ever for businesses to be able to thrive and grow.
Even before the latest economic disruption, poor customer service was blamed for costing American businesses billions each year. Meanwhile, ample evidence indicates that companies with friendly and attentive employees keep customers and attract new ones.
Customer service personnel are the first point of contact customers have with your company and can make or break your business. A service orientation also helps employees work together and independently to fulfill company goals, and helps create a culture of teamwork and collaboration.
We’ve compiled a list of what we consider to be the top skills to look for when hiring, as well as some questions that can help identify the candidates who possess these qualities. Look for candidates who demonstrate:
Patience/Grace Under Pressure
Customers may be confused, frustrated, or angry when they contact your company. Customer service staff must be able to handle stress, including when customers take it out on them. They must be able to remain calm and take the time to patiently listen so they can make sure that the customer’s concerns are acknowledged and handled with the appropriate amount of care.
Great customer service representatives go out of their way to find creative solutions that work for the customer. They ask questions and seek help when needed, exploring all options to help address and satisfy the customer’s concerns. This may mean they move away from their standard “script” and guidelines, with the goal of a happy customer.
Willingness to Learn
Someone who thinks they’re always right or is hesitant in new situations may not be the best candidate for a customer service representative. Inquisitive representatives who are up-to-date on the latest policies and industry information can be a valuable resource to the customer, helping to ensure their repeat business.
There are many excellent job candidates currently in the market and you may have a larger applicant pool than in previous times. With so many good candidates, you want to make sure you get the best one — an employee who will be committed to your goals and service philosophy. This commitment will ensure the service representative will deliver the right message to your customers.
The best way to identify candidates who possess these qualities is to ask specific questions in four areas. You want to gauge their understanding of the importance of keeping customers happy, as well as how they handle stressful situations, collaborate with team members, and solve problems. Here are some sample questions to help you choose applicants with these attributes:
Can you describe what customer service means to you? Some attributes to look for an applicant’s response include an approachable personality, an understanding of expectations of the customer service rep. role, and a passion for customer service that shines through in their answer.
Can you tell me about a time you dealt with an unhappy customer and resolved the situation? An angry customer can quickly turn into a crisis situation. Dealing with an irate customer requires thinking on your feet, a levelheaded approach, and top-notch problem-solving capabilities. Look for responses that demonstrate conflict-resolution skills, ability to handle stress, and details about how the applicant managed the situation and turned it around.
Can you describe the importance of working collaboratively with your team members and other departments? This question will show if a candidate is willing to jump in to help their team members, and if they’re able to relay customer feedback to other departments. Replies should demonstrate teamwork abilities and communication skills.
What would you do if a customer asked you a question that you didn’t know how to answer? Answers should demonstrate honesty (admitting to the customer that they’re not sure, but will look into it), and follow-up to satisfy the customer, such as reaching out to co-workers to help answer a question or address a problem.
Hiring employees with the skills to provide excellent customer service is a tremendous asset to your business’s brand and financial wellbeing. A quick evaluation for key qualities before onboarding can save your business time and resources.
Ken Crowell is Founder and CEO of EmployTest, a pre-employment testing platform that’s helped more than 7,000 corporate and government organizations across the US and globally to remotely pre-screen applicants for the best hiring choices. EmployTest administers more than 60,000 tests to job applicants each year.
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