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Five Traits To Look For When You're Hiring A Customer Service Rep - Finnegan Pierson - Blog

Five Traits To Look For When You're Hiring A Customer Service Rep

As an entrepreneur, customer service should not be an afterthought; it should be a priority. Even though you do the best you can to assist customers and get back to them in a timely manner, it can seem like a lot of your day is eaten up dealing with customers when you should be focusing on running your business. If you think it's time to seek extra hands to help you tackle customer care, what are some traits and skills should you be looking for when you seek out new hires?

1. Eligibility To Work

The first thing that you want to be sure of: Are applicants authorized to work in the United States? This is not to be discriminatory or to be a bad guy; there is a whole host of legal and ethical reasons why you can't hire someone who is not eligible to work in the country. You have W2 forms to fill out, hours to track and Uncle Sam to report back to. This in itself could be a great reason to make running a background check part of your regular hiring process.

2. Trainability, Not Always Experience

Experience is a great thing to have in the customer service field, but don't disregard someone who has never worked in the industry before. You could have an applicant with a dozen years working in client-facing situations but be socially awkward or abrasive, whereas you might find an applicant fresh out of high school with zero experience but a thirst to learn. Years of experience does not always mean that the applicant is the best fit for the job.

On the other hand, do look into the applicant's work history. Do you notice patterns like they jumped from job to job every few months, or were unemployed for a long stretch of time? It's worth checking with references and checking on past employers to be sure they are telling the truth about their history. 

3. People Skills

Similarly, personality is important. Not everyone is bubbly and chatty, but when you're looking for someone who will be your voice to your customers it certainly can't hurt. Look for someone who is not afraid to strike up conversations with strangers or offer assistance unasked. This is not to say that you can't hire people who are more reserved and shy, but you might have a long uphill battle when you're training to pull them out of their shell.

4. A Basic Understanding Of Technology

Some people go running in the opposite direction when it comes to using computers or tablets, others are eager to get their hands on them and learn as much as possible. In today's connected world, the use of technology in the workplace is going to be a reality no matter what field you work in. Someone who knows how to use a computer, an office suite like Microsoft or Google apps and a knowledge of devices can help you in the long run. However, remember that trainability comes into play here and you can train your new employee — but it's easier when you don't have to start from scratch.

5. Patience, Patience

In case you're unaware, it can be a laborious task to take care of enraged clients. You don't want someone who will snap back when they're being yelled at, or retreat and meekly accept everything that's being said to them. You need someone who will show patience and understanding with clients to help calm them down, not make the situation worse. This could arguably be the most important trait in a customer service rep! There are sneaky ways to test an applicant's patience during the interview. It's not always pleasant for the applicant, but it can be very educational:

  • Make them wait for you for an extra five to ten minutes. Some people get very agitated waiting, others play it cool and know that life happens.
  • Ask a question with a lengthy answer and don't give them enough time to speak. Watch the color of their cheeks and their nervous tics like shaking their leg, clenching their fists/jaw or whether or not their expressions sour.
  • Discuss a worst-case scenario and ask how they would deal with it, even if it's not likely to happen. Seeing what peoples' snap decisions are can be insightful to their character and decision-making skills on the fly.

Running a small business requires many different facets, and as you grow you learn that you aren't always the best person to take care of all of those facets. When you're starting to drown in the amount of customer service work you're doing, it's time to look for help elsewhere and hand those reins to somebody else. There are many considerations when you're trying to find The Hire, but once you find that perfect person then you know that your valued clients are in good hands. 


Publish Date: December 24, 2019 8:11 PM

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