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How to recruit better customer service staff

Published: Thursday 14th May 2015

A female selling over the phone with her headset

What is good customer service and how do you, as a recruiter, think about it when screening candidates? Consider the coffee shop employee or the bar man who always greets you with a smile and always remembers your favourite order. Think about the waiter or airline steward who goes that extra mile. These are the types of enthusiastic people you want to recruit for customer service roles.

It may seem a bit obvious but when recruiting effective customer service employees, recruiters should look to find candidates who exemplify helpfulness and passion. People who are effective communicators and who truly care about giving customers a great experience. After all, customer service staff are most often the first point of contact with a business and can make the difference between a potential customer and a loyal customer.

The Basics

Modern customer service encompasses face-to-face service in shops, call centres who communicate via the phone and helpdesks and instant messaging on websites. Customer service representatives need excellent communication both verbal and written. In some cases an initial telephone interview can be an effective way to determine communication skills. Can they talk clearly and concisely?

And more importantly than being able to effectively communicate a company’s products, services or position is the ability to listen. During the interview does the candidate demonstrate that they are listening to what a recruiter is saying and respond to it?

One of the most overlooked qualities in recruitment for customer service representatives is helpfulness. Is the candidate genuinely helpful?

Conflict Resolution

Customer service staff are very often the first point of contact for a customer experiencing a problem or issue with a company’s service. You need to find out how they deal with situations when put on the spot. Asking unexpected questions during interviews is a good way to find out how well candidates can think on their feet.

Go Beyond The Usual

As a recruiter for customer service and call centre roles you probably find that CV’s from candidates with customer service, call centre experience and relevant industry experience often float to the top. Whilst this does make sense – they already have relevant experience and skills after all. Broadening the scope of your hiring process can bring a wealth of excellent candidates with skills and abilities not always necessarily relevant, but which could make them outstanding customer service personnel.

Create job descriptions and adverts which appeal directly to people and attract candidates with perhaps charity experience and volunteering on their CV. These ‘helper’ type people who are naturally inclined to help others and will have done so through their life and people with volunteer and charity experience can often be more engaging with other people. Passionate people bring out the passion in customers and make more naturally effective salespeople.

Why Attitude Matters

Some personal qualities and attitudes can’t be learned, they are part of who a person is. Having the right attitude and having enthusiasm matters to providing effective customer service. Whilst a CV can speak to skills, what can’t come across on paper is if a person is genuinely welcoming, warm and helpful – like the examples we looked at earlier.

What you are looking for, are those candidates who can intuitively and quickly create connections with people, putting customers at ease, whether by phone, message board or face-to-face. The key point is to only hire candidates who truly exemplify those qualities of helpfulness, passion, warmth and effective communication.

Effective recruiters should look for these types of people when recruiting winning customer service candidates who will enhance both customers experience and a company’s bottom line.

For more recruiter and employer tips on finding new talent, visit zoek.uk/recruiter/news. If you have vacancies to fill today and are looking for on-line job advertising, why not try Zoek for faster, smarter recruitment. Sign up today.

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