Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations
Hire customer service stars


August 27, 2012
By Jeff Mowatt

Topics

Aug. 27, 2012 – When I speak at conferences about
customer service, I'll occasionally also facilitate an exchange of best
practices among industry leaders. Here's a compilation of their top
tips, which apply to any industry on how to hire customer service stars.

Aug. 27, 2012 – When I speak at conferences about
customer service, I'll occasionally also facilitate an exchange of best
practices among industry leaders. Here's a compilation of their top tips, which apply to any industry on how to hire customer service stars.

Hire attitude over aptitude

Technical tasks can be learned, but trying to change attitude is difficult. Look for these three key qualities found in strong customer service candidates:

  1. Outgoing personality. By definition,
    it's easier for an outgoing person than a shy person to engage with your
    customers. Choose the path of least resistance and hire people who
    aren't afraid to talk to strangers.
  2. Efficient worker. Customers are there to receive a product or service. That means hiring people who can get stuff done even when it isn't fun.
  3. Attention to detail. Satisfying basic
    customer needs is a bare minimum. The place where customers begin to
    perceive you as being exceptional is in the dozens of details. You want
    your employees to pay attention those details before your customer have
    to.

The challenge next becomes how to find candidates with those
qualities. A great place to start is with your existing customer
service stars.

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Ask employees to help
Encourage your star employees to help you to recruit their friends or
relatives. Good performers know what's expected of the job and are in a
position to know who might do an equally good job. Tell your employees
that if you do hire their friend or relative, they can participate in
training them. Offer a small bonus or gift to both your star employee
and to the new recruit if the new hire works out well. The goal is to
start a new employee out from day-one with positive peer pressure.

Schedule interviews for 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning
Yes, you read it right. That interview time will screen out a huge number of non-starters. Those who do show-up prove they have the ability to be efficient – even when it's uncomfortable.

See if they're dressed for work
Are they groomed and dressed appropriately? Appropriate
refers to whether their attire seem suitable for a) a job interview and
b) for your clientele. Trying to deal with dress code issues after
someone is hired is an uphill battle. What they're wearing tells you
something about their judgment. After the interview walk them out to
their car. The cleanliness of the vehicle will give you more clues
about their attitude and attention to detail.

Ask, "How are you?"
The response to that common question will tell you a lot about how
they will interact with your customers. Do they complain about being
tired? Do they tell long stories about themselves? Or do they simply
say something positive and in turn ask how you are? All those answers
will tell you if they are upbeat and focused on others.

Interview over lunch
Conduct a follow-up interview over lunch and observe how they
interact with the server. Are they as nice and outgoing to a server as
they are to you as a potential employer? How long does it take them to
pick out something from the menu? If they're going to take a long time
to decide about what they'll have for lunch, how efficient will they be
with accomplishing unfamiliar tasks at work? Do they have any questions
for you? The questions aren't that important, but they need to have
the confidence to ask. Asking about wages is perfectly legitimate. But
wait for them to ask you.

Customer service stars aren't necessarily the people
with all the answers; they're people with positive attitudes, who are
curious and confident enough to ask questions to surpass your customers'
expectations.


Customer service strategist and professional speaker Jeff Mowatt is an authority on The Art of Client Service .  .  .  Influence with Ease. For Jeff's other tips, self-study resources, and training services, visit www.jeffmowatt.com


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