How to find the best customer service representatives for your business

Do business owners really hire people for customer service positions because of their specific qualities and backgrounds? Do some business owners feel that anyone is capable of doing customer service and therefore hires a legion of personnel for minimum wage and give them two days of training? None of us like to call a company for help and have to speak to a representative with an attitude instead of a solution.

The problem is that up to 60% of customer service employees hired do not qualify for their positions. Some disgruntled employees can not deal with the stress, and their unhappiness with their job shows through as they deal with customers. When dealing with a difficult customer, is the employee impatient and easily excitable? In reality, the specific needs for  great customer service agents are rather unique.

Everyone applying for a job puts their best foot forward, so what traits can business owners look for while interviewing and considering customer service representatives to hire? Initially personality is a prime consideration. Customer service personnel need to be outgoing and people oriented without being too talkative. They have to fit into being great listeners, sympathetic, patient and team players. Good agents are assertive without being abrasive or caustic and can be responsive to a customer’s needs without being a pushover.

Today technology plays an important role in customer service. Companies spend a large part of their operating budget creating call centers but wind up hiring the least expensive and inexperienced personnel to save money. Employees need to be trained and experienced with sophisticated technology and how technology can contribute to customer satisfaction. Employees also have to be familiar with the culture of the company as well as the industry jargon. Prior knowledge about the company and its products and services contribute to the agent’s knowledge when speaking with a customer who is either looking for more information or having a problem solved.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention retaining those employees who do an excellent job in customer service with pay raises, vacations or additional perks from the company. In the long run, it is much less expensive to retain and reward employees who have shown superior skills than to let them relocate to another position possibly with your competition. The expense and time it takes to train new personnel could be costing you customers. So, when you find the team player who enjoys working in a stable environment, having an office to go to every morning, working at a challenging position and doing it well, make that employee feel secure with that steady pay check and a nod of appreciation.

photo credit: Torley