We often hear from our customers that hiring the right agent for social customer care is not as simple as hiring for other roles in the contact center and that it’s important to spend time and put careful thought into who to bring aboard.
Thanks to the explosive growth of social media, brands now deliver customer service and support in a more visible and public setting than ever before. This means a new set of skills are evolving to deliver the standard of care that today’s consumers expect on these emerging channels. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates customer service jobs will increase by 400,000, to 2.65 million by 2018. While adding agents to call centers can be expensive, bringing on social customer care teams can actually reduce servicing costs and improve agent retention. The cost of a social customer service interaction is 1/6 that of a call center interaction. If your goals are to reduce agent attrition, improve team morale, and continuously raise the bar when it comes to SLAs and other targets, you have to be intentional about hiring for social customer care teams.
What to consider when looking for a social customer care agent
The same way one bad apple can spoil the bunch, a few good folks on your team can improve response quality and grow into strong leaders themselves. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you begin interviewing the best candidates to fill open positions on your agent team.
Before you begin, you should have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for in a candidate and what the job entails on a day-to-day basis. If the hiring manager is not a direct supervisor, consider bringing the supervisor in for at least part of the interview, if not all. Decide if you would like to hire from another team at your company or if you’re hiring someone who has gained experience elsewhere. If you’re hiring an external candidate based on their experience, focus part of your interview on brand passion and culture. This team is your organization’s first line of contact once a customer wants to get in touch. If you’re hiring internally, culture and brand knowledge/passion likely already exist, so you can spend more time making sure their skills are up to your team’s standards. Encouraging current employees to refer friends for positions can improve the quality of applicants and boost morale long-term.
Know before you interview:
- What is the day-to-day workflow for the role?
- Is this position remote or at a physical location?
- Will this be a full-time or part-time job?
- What is the anticipated compensation? Are team members paid hourly or through a salary model? What are the employee benefits?
- How much experience do you require in a candidate?
- Do you need to fill a particular void on the team? For instance, hiring an agent who is bilingual if you have many customers who speak a language that is not yet reflected on your support team.
- Are they familiar with key social platforms?
Once you have screened enough candidates to bring in individuals for interviewing, you can confidently begin bringing in folks who are top contenders. An interview for a position on a growing customer support team should consist of at least a verbal interview and a written test. The purpose of the conversation is to determine culture fit and communication skills. Testing is used to establish a more qualitative measurement.
What to look for in the question and answer portion of your interview:
- Is the candidate calm under pressure?
- How advanced are their communication skills? Are they easily able to explain complicated situations? Can they do so succinctly?
- What are the candidate’s goals? Are they interested in short-term employment or building a career with your brand?
- How dependable does this person seem? Were they on time? Are they prepared for their interview?
With the knowledge that the majority of your team’s public interactions with customers are typed and in the wake of so many social snafus by social media agents, it is imperative that everyone you hire can type proficiently. A written exam is not uncommon for many call center jobs, but this must be modified to fit the medium of social interactions. While some people are excellent and quick writers, not everyone types the same way they write. Give your social customer service candidates a problem to solve (if you can provide them with an actual problem your team encounters frequently, that is preferable) and grade their solution, as well as the process they used to get to their answer.
What should be determined by your typed exam:
- Given limited instructions, is the agent able to use correct spelling and grammar, use common sense/resources, and type quickly and efficiently?
- Does your prospective agent have difficulty multitasking?
- How do their common sense and analytical skills hold up under pressure?
- Is this individual detail oriented or a big-picture thinker?
- Are they quick and efficient when it comes to both problem solving and typing?
Once you have conducted your in-person agent interviews, consider introducing your top candidates to other team members and leaders. Don’t accept a candidate who doesn’t make the cut – your reputation as a hiring manager and as a brand is on the line. Take time to be intentional about hiring the best person for the job and spend less time hiring their replacements every few months.
If you’re just getting started with social customer service and considering building out a team, read this report to find out how the customer service landscape is changing and how to keep up with your customer’s changing demands:
- 5 Customer Service Truths