6 Questions You Need to Ask When Hiring Customer Service Reps
Great products aren’t the only reason that brands like Nordstrom, Amazon, and Apple are regularly regarded as among the top consumer brands. So what is their secret weapon to attracting loyal customers? Exceptional customer service.
Whether it is by going the extra mile and offering 24/7 support lines, offering convenient returns or refunds, or training their support representatives to really help the people they are supposed to be helping, these three brands know how to listen to their customers, and still maintain their bottom line.
This is why hiring the right customer service representative can be a challenging feat. The ideal candidate is calm, polite, and helpful, yet also needs to be able to confidently enforce your business’s policies. How do you find a candidate that possesses all of these attributes and still maintains grace under pressure? Start by ask them these six questions:
1. How do you deal with stress?
Unfortunately, more often than not, customers reach out to a company’s customer service to complain rather than to offer praise. This means, for most of their day, agents are dealing with angry, stressed, and frustrated people who are already primed for a fight.
Because stress can be contagious, it’s imperative that the support person on the other end is able to keep his cool, even when the person they’re speaking to is not. Find out how your candidate combats stressful situations or what they do to stay calm.
2. What does the customer want?
Every customer service agent is also a customer, which means that in many situations, they should be able to predict and understand where a customer is coming from. Ask your potential hire to describe an experience where they were a customer and had a positive or negative interaction with a service agent. How was it resolved? Had the roles been reversed, how would they have handled it differently?
3. What did you learn from a difficult customer experience?
Rather than asking about their worst customer experience and how they resolved it, consider asking what they gained from the experience and how they have since applied that learning to their job. This answer can demonstrate your candidate’s willingness to grow as well as his ability to learn from past experiences.
4. How do you deal with criticism?
While no one loves being attacked, a good customer service agent can accept negative feedback with a certain grace and aplomb. Defensiveness is a trait reserved only for the customer, not the agent — so when disagreement or conflict arises, you’ll want to make sure your agent is able to articulate his point or reasoning in a calm manner.
5. How would you resolve this [fill in a scenario]?
While on-the-job training is a given for customer support agents, you can give them a taste of what they’re in for by administering a customer scenario test, where you provide them with a series of actual complaints or common situations that your team has previously dealt with.
Simulate the test so it is as close to real-life as possible — so if they are applying to be an email support agent, they should type their answers out, whereas a phone agent would respond verbally.
6. What do you need to succeed in this position?
Your goal is to keep your new customer service representative for the long haul. One way to ensure your agent stays loyal to your business is to be loyal to them. Before you hire them, find out their goals for the future.
Are they happy staying service agents? Or do they want to eventually become managers? Are you able to accommodate their needs? If the answer is no, you may be better off cutting ties now then spending more time and money later to hire and train their replacement.
Finally, while these questions will undoubtedly help you determine which candidates can do the job effectively, the most important trait to look for in a new hire is someone who genuinely wants to help people.
Always look for that passion in their answers. By doing so, you will build a team that will not only be capable representatives of your brand, but also its most powerful advocates.