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June 05, 2021

The Best Hiring Practices for Customer Service

When you first opened your business, you were responsible for everything. Every order, every inquiry, every call from a customer—it all rested on your shoulders.

But as your business grows, you’ll find yourself answering more and more customer inquiries and not able to complete your core functions. When you find more of your time is spent answering customer questions than running and growing your business, you know you’ve hit the tipping point, and it’s time to hire some help. It’s best to recognize when it’s time to hire before you get to the point where you’re stretched too thin, and things are starting to slip through the cracks. 

Your first customer service rep will probably be a part-time employee who will jump in to take customer calls or respond to their inquiries. They might also help you out with other projects during any downtime. 

That will only last for so long, though. As your sales grow, your customer service needs naturally increase with it. And your need for more efficient customer service solutions will be necessary. 

Customer service representatives are on the front lines for your business day. With the internet at almost everyone’s fingertips, an increasing number of purchases are made strictly through technology. 

Because of that, a customer service rep may be the only human contact with your brand that a customer ever has. Think about it, how many customers will ever talk to your CEO, your designers, or your engineers? It’s probably a pretty small number. So effective customer service solutions are necessary. 

Importance of Exceptional Customer Service 

The truth is, customer service can make or break your brand. If your company provides great service, your business is likely to be successful and grow. Whereas if you provide poor service, you’re likely to struggle and possibly go out of business since 52% of consumers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction.

And it’s not just as bad as losing one customer; 95% of consumers said they tell at least one other person when they have a bad experience with a company. Even worse, 54% tell at least five other people. So, bad customer service can taint your brand’s image.

On the other hand, great customer service is an excellent way to grow your business organically. Millennials especially are big on social media likes and shares and will tell friends and family about the positive experience with your brand. 

On average, millennials will tell 17 people when they get great service, making them a great free referral source by simply providing excellent care. Therefore, the importance of hiring talent with excellent customer service skills can’t be overstated.

Best Hiring Practices

So as you can see, great customer service is critical and should be a top priority for your business. Starting the process of creating a customer service team can be overwhelming for sure. 

The good news is, you have options! You can hire individuals to work in the office with you, virtually or hire a third party that specializes in customer service. All of the options have proven to be successful when executed correctly. Outsourcing customer service is common among many top companies as it gives flexibility, improves efficiency, and reduces cost. 

It’s best first to understand a few basic fundamentals of making your first hire a successful one so you can get back to working on your core business functions. It’s not just job postings, applications, interviews, and hiring that bring you the best customer service agents. It’s also what happens after they are hired, like onboarding, training, short-term reviews, and more.

Before you can go out and find the best talent, you need to know what you’re looking for. Start by making a list of skills and traits you think the ideal candidate needs. What qualities should they have to make them successful at helping your customers effectively? Are there other responsibilities you want them to help with? Will they need to use multiple channels to interact with your customers?

Things to Consider to Build a Winning Customer Service Team:

Customer Service Skills

You might be thinking, duh, that’s obvious, but remember you need someone great at talking to all types of people, including frustrated and difficult customers. They need to be a people pleaser, enjoy helping others, and patient. If not, they aren’t going to enjoy working in support for very long.

Interpersonal Skills

Customer service is more than just answering questions and solving issues. Service reps are the only voice from your company most of your customers will ever hear, so they need to make every interaction exceptional. To foster strong relationships and gain loyal customers, your service agents should be friendly, personable and make your customers feel valued and appreciated. 

Your customer service reps can make your customers love your brand by just being super awesome during every interaction, both verbal and written.  

Communication Skills

In the digital world, customer service isn’t just through the phone. Instead, consumers today want service (and expect it) through multiple channels, including live chat, email, SMS, and social media. 

Because of this, great written communication skills are a must. For example, if their resume or communication to you has a bunch of spelling mistakes, you can be sure their replies to your customers will too. 

Availability

Consumers today do a lot of their shopping online, which means whatever time of day or night they want. For this reason, many businesses have stepped up their customer service game and have agents available 24/7. 

If you really want to grow your business and never miss out on a new lead or opportunity to add to a positive buying experience for your customers, then being available when needed is the way. 

So you will want to ask yourself, “When will my customers need my help?” Many start-up companies will begin with a part-time customer service rep and then increase the hours as they become busier.

Empathy

An empathetic customer service rep will go above and beyond to make things right for your customer. When you hire someone with a compassionate nature, you won’t have to worry about them going out of their way to make your customers happy. 

Independent Problem Solver

When you’re hiring a customer service rep to reduce your workload, ensuring they can sort things out for themselves will save you a lot of time and headache. So basically, they need to be excellent problem solvers. 

That means independently searching for answers to customer questions that might not be easily accessible, making decisions on refunds (within policy guidelines, of course), and taking the initiative to improve the customer experience. 

You don’t want them to come to you for everything as it will just take up your time that most business owners can’t ever get enough of.

Location

Do you want your customer service reps to work in-office with you, or do you want them to work remotely? Many companies are finding remote customer service is successful and a great way to cut overhead costs, so they are setting up virtual support teams. In that case, they will need devices, any programs they need to use, and a reliable internet connection. 

If you hire a customer service rep in-office, you want to be sure they live relatively close to you as long commutes can lead to late arrivals or quitting for a different position closer to home.

Plan Ahead

You don’t want to wait until your customers need to wait on hold for long periods or not get a response quickly before you hire additional service help. 

Instead, you want to project your needs and have a plan in place before your customers get frustrated and have a poor experience with your company. 

Onboarding

If you hire a customer service rep and don’t give them the proper training, it’s like throwing them to the wolves and expecting them to survive. The onboarding process is so important to have a completely awesome customer service team. 

You need to teach them about your business, culture, products, and services, how to use your CRM, and how you want things handled. 

Proving a list of common Q&As will help them handle the service calls without needing to come to you for answers all the time. Your customer service team should model your company’s culture while interacting with customers. If you have a light and fun atmosphere, they should be light and fun but professional while communicating with customers. 

Once you provide the training they need to do the job successfully, it’s important not to micro-manage them. Trust they will do an excellent job while just checking in from time to time. Micromanaging is not fun for anyone and can result in high turnover, which can be costly

To Sum it Up

Assembling a strong customer service team is critical for the success of your business.

Your customer service reps will quickly become the voice of your company. Because they are on the front line and could be the only human interaction your customers have with your company, they need to represent your brand authentically. 

Are you ready to create a super awesome service team that will wow your customers? Contact Awesome OS today to get started! 

 

Sources:

#WellActually, Americans Say Customer Service is Better Than Ever | American Express

Customer Service and Business Results | Cloudfront

Average Cost-per-Hire for Companies Is $4,129 | SHRM.org

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