The Secret to Hiring the Best Customer Services Reps

I believe that hiring the most productive customer service employees really comes down to hiring for attitude over skill.

I once heard a quote at a business conference I attended in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that is very applicable here: “Hire slowly, fire fast”. Taking your time with this decision is crucial, regardless of how badly you need the extra help. Think of the Japanese word “Kaizen” – it means taking a little time to get better every day.

Your mindset should be set on long term growth and success.  You want your business to be a kaizen. Think for 10 years from now. Sure, hiring the first person to crop up might solve a need short-term, but it will destroy you in the long run.

Here are a few tips to help you wield out the good recruits from the bad:

1. Are they making good eye contact?

If a person does not maintain great eye contact during an interview, you would never want to hire them for a customer service position. Customer service is all about being social and finding ways to connect with colleagues, management, and most of all, customers.

2. Can you hear empathy in their voice?

Another key trait of a great customer service rep is having an empathetic vocal quality that will have them practically drooling to make customers feel good and to feel comfortable. As well, their empathy should also be used to diffuse a bad situation before it escalates, i.e., a key customer terminates contract.

3. What kind of personality do they have?

The 4 most important things to learn during a phone screen are: 1. Is this person socially adept? and 2. Will this person get along with my company and my team? 3. Does this person speak with confidence and pride? 4. Is the person positively responsive to the information you provide?  Things like when to talk and when to listen, how to respond appropriately, and correct tone of voice are difficult to teach. You want someone who has those things down. And the phone screen will reveal this.

4. Create a profile of your ideal employee

Have a plan. Try to avoid simply hiring anyone that looks good or comes in with an application. Create a profile of what makes a good employee, and what makes a bad employee, and look for those that stick to that plan. Speak to friends and colleagues to see if they can refer someone to you.

5. Check References

You really need to check references carefully and do background checks. In the litigious society in which we live you need to pursue every avenue to assure that the people you hire can do the job, contribute to your growth and development, and have no past transgressions which might endanger your current workforce.

6. Simulations

Have your team engage with the interviewees as if they were customers. You can learn a lot and get to see if they were friendly or standoffish. If we were unable to get them to engage in conversation on the sales floor, it could be a sign that they may not bode well in your work environment.


8 Prospecting Voicemail Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve all heard horrible, boring and pointless voicemails, and if you’re like me, you do one of two things. One, you delete them before they’re done, and two, you remark to yourself how the person leaving it has no tact. Here are 8 things to avoid when leaving voicemails to prospects:


1. Telling Lies

Pretending to have called before and spoken to someone in the office when you have not is bad practice in the business world. You will not win over customers. Instead, do some research so you have a grabber value proposition that the prospect cannot refuse.

2. You’re Missing the Point

Talking about your products, instead of finding a compelling solution to a painpoint your prospect is experience, is a sure fire way not to get a call back. Avoid this, as well!

3. Short, But Not Sweet

Leaving a message that’s too short does not give the prospect a good enough reason to call back or pick up the next time you call. Go through the 5Ws and 1 H in 1 minute or less. Focus the voicemail on what you can do to help the prospect resolve their issues.

4. Playing Hard to Get

Passively waiting for a call back will not make the prospect respect you more. You are trying to reach them and show them that what you are offering is compelling. Do not wait around for them to reach out to you. Put a follow-up action in place using a CRM tool and follow through.

5. Giving Up

Giving up after only 2 or 3 attempts. Most prospects won’t return your call until you have tried to reach them more than five times. Use your Contact Management System to track the calls you make in order to avoid bombarding them.

6. Failing to stick to one topic per voicemail message

You can’t mention every business issue or trigger event you could address. Choose one for this call. Save the others for future calls or followups.

7. No Referral Mentions

If someone referred you to the prospect, make sure to say that in the first 5 seconds of your voicemail. A prospect is more likely to call back when they know the person/business was referred to them by someone they know.

8. Lots of Stutter

Leaving a voicemail with lots of verbal pauses (like “ums” and “ahs”) makes you sound less confident, and less credible.  If you know you are nervous and may stutter, write out the script or practice what you are going to say beforehand. Review message, if applicable, before sending.


5 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience

Customer Experience remains at the core of any enterprise’s success. Most businesses that built their enterprise from the ground up are already experts in customer experience. They have a deep understanding of their customer needs and the experience that will satiate their customers’ goals.

However, becoming an expert in customer experience is not one a time thing. It involves active customer engagement, which many businesses slip away from after 1-2 years of growth and found success. They do this by getting too caught up in the daily grind of managing a business.

Here are 5 ways to enhance the customer experience and actively engaging your customers:


1. Listen with a Beginner’s Mind

Develop tact for listening to your customers. The key is to adopt a beginner’s mindset. That is adopting an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions.  One way you can do that is to affirm yourself as a learner, rather than a knower, which makes you open to feedback and new perspectives. In customer service, for example, you could develop a survey that asks customers for their input on how your product/service can better their goals and exceed expectations. Repeat the survey periodically.


2. Schedule Periodic Reviews

Look through recent and past notes and take the time to reflect is key in order gain new insight. As you do this, pay attention to recurring comments and themes. Identify the who, what, where, when and why of each customer comment.  Bring the concerns up with the appropriate personnel and follow-up with customers once the issue has been resolved. Use your CRM tool to document your customer interactions through to the resolution.


3. Make People Famous

Take the time to highlight a power user in your community (with their permission, of course!) in a public way — social media, website, blog post, etc. Most people love to be publicly recognized, and giving a user a moment in the limelight is a powerful way to turn them into a brand ambassador and life-long customer.


4. Call Your Customers Regularly

Build a relationship with each customer. Occasionally give them a call or send them an email. As well, take notes of the things your customers say and organize each note by topics related to those comments. This will help you become proactive in resolving customer concerns and retaining customers for longer periods. A practical CRM tool can help you organize notes and enhance your customer experience.


5. Be Adaptive

Every customer is different. You should be able to handle surprises, sense the customer’s mood changes and adapt accordingly. This also includes a willingness to learn– providing good customer service is a continuous learning process.