The COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in demand for organizations that offer customer service. Healthcare suppliers, mortgage lenders, nonprofits, and government agencies are all looking to hire people with the skills to take care of customers over the phone, email, or chat services.
For these employers to thrive amidst fierce competition, they need to hire people who meet or exceed industry standards for customer service representatives.
Customers are more likely to leave a company if they have a negative customer service experience, with the cost of replacing an employee costing between 20% and 25% of annual pay for mid-level roles. Even one poor decision may cause significant financial damage, accounting for lost income, hiring fees, and the expense of training a new person.
There are no rules when it comes to hiring, but there are tactics you can use to improve the process. Rather than asking questions that invite applicants to self-assess (such as if they’ve ever encountered a difficult circumstance), ask questions that reveal their thought processes and ability to handle high-stress customer service situations.
How To Hire Great Customer Service Representative
Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding the perfect call center representative for your company. There are no hard rules you must follow, but using these tactics can make the process go more smoothly.
Before you start, be very clear about the skills and qualities you’re looking for in a customer service representative. This will help you to better assess candidates and determine if they are a good fit for your company.
– Assess Technical Skills
When it comes to customer support, recruiters should focus on technical skills and empathy above everything else. Make sure your hires are able to follow the nitty-gritties of support since customer satisfaction is influenced by the “accuracy and quality of information.” A solid foundation for a fantastic support experience is the ability to recognize issues and solve problems.
What Are Technical Skills?
Customer service software has evolved to meet the demands of today’s consumers. Some businesses may make use of live chat or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to answer customer queries, in addition to a phone support system.
Because of this modernization in toolsets, many employers are now tasked with finding candidates who have the right mix of technical skills that aligns with their company’s goals. If you want to hire call center experts, it becomes important to test them on these skills before making an offer.
A technical skills assessment is designed specifically for determining how well candidates can handle basic tasks using software applications like cloud-based email services, chatbots, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
The assessment will also test a candidate’s ability to navigate through different screens and menus, enter data correctly, follow instructions, work with others as part of a team, and provide solutions to customer service problems.
– Assess Problem Solving Skills
Problem-solving skills are another important skill that should be assessed. This could be done by asking candidates to provide a solution to a customer service problem or presenting how they would have handled a difficult situation.
Hiring the right customer service experts for your customer service needs is essential to keeping your business running during this time of crisis. By ensuring that you assess all of the skills your new hires need, you can be confident that you are making the best decision possible for your company.
What Are Problem-Solving Skills?
To be a great customer service representative, you need to be able to solve customer problems quickly while demonstrating empathy and professionalism.
The best candidates will have excellent problem-solving skills, the ability to remain calm under pressure, good listening skills, strong verbal communication skills, a positive attitude, solid computer knowledge (including software applications), and the ability to work well with others.
It’s important when you recruit customer service agents to look for individuals who have the ability to stay calm and think on their feet. Problem-solving skills are key, as representatives will need to be able to identify and resolve customer complaints.
Problem-Solving skills is not something that can be taught, it is either something you have or don’t. Therefore it’s important to hire people who are already good at problem-solving before they even start working for your company.
– Assess Soft Skills
If a brand can make you fall in love with it, as nearly 70% of customers claim, hiring friendly customer service representatives is critical. You should look for people that are capable of quickly establishing relationships with your clients. That implies the importance of hiring for interpersonal skills is similar to technical expertise.
What Are Soft Skills?
When most people think about skills, they think of hard skills. These are the specific abilities and knowledge required to do a job. For example, a graphic designer needs to know how to use design software. A cashier needs to be able to operate a cash register.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal qualities that help you succeed in your career. They include things like communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. You can’t necessarily learn them in school or on the job. They come from who you are as a person.
You might be wondering why soft skills are so important for customer service representatives. After all, they aren’t dealing with clients face-to-face. The reason is that soft skills are crucial to your success in any job.
Customer service is all about people, and the best customer service reps know how to communicate effectively with everyone they meet. They’re friendly but not overbearing; empathetic but professional.
If you think this sounds like a tall order, don’t worry! Soft skills can be learned through training or self-development efforts on your part. You just need to practice them regularly so you feel comfortable using them at work every day.
It might sound silly to talk about “practice” when it comes to something as basic as being nice, but if there was ever an area where practice makes perfect, it’s here! Simply put, the more you do something, the better you’ll be at it. So get out there and start being social!
Customer service requires soft skills that are difficult to quantify, yet they’re critical for the job. Your candidates should demonstrate:
- Empathetic Mindset – A good customer service representative should be empathetic and attentive to the needs of customers. They should understand and work with customers to address their issues in order to truly comprehend them.
- Good Communication – Customers need to feel heard and understood, and good communication skills are essential for this. The representative should be able to put their feelings aside and listen attentively, repeating what the customer said so they know that they were heard correctly. They should also use clear language that the customer will understand.
- Perceptiveness – Perceptiveness is one of the most significant soft skills a customer service representative should handle. This entails being able to read between the lines and comprehend a client’s actual problem, even if it was not stated directly.
- Patience And Kind – Customer service can be frustrating, especially when the customer is angry or demanding. Your customer service representative should have the patience to deal with these types of customers and diffuse the situation in a calm manner. They should also be kind, as this will help to put the customer at ease.
It’s difficult to evaluate these skills in an interview, but you can get a general sense of how your candidate will behave when they’re put in challenging situations.
Ask the candidates to describe their ideal customer and then ask them what kind of trouble is most frustrating for them. Then think about whether these experiences align with how potential hires responded during the conversation. If not, that might be a sign that this person isn’t cut out for difficult conversations or delivering bad news.
In addition, pay attention to how your candidate speaks on behalf of his former company and coworkers if he has work experience in call center positions. It’s important for them to convey professionalism so as not to damage the organization’s image by making any offensive comments or mistakes during calls with clients/customers.
– Recruiting and Hiring Tactics
Here are tactics you can use to find and hire the best customer service representatives for your organization.
- Job boards – Job boards are a great way to find potential hires, as they list open positions from all over the internet. Find niche job boards to post customer service positions on, and consider targeting specific regions or countries. Snagajob is a well-known job search website that caters to employers and employees, with an online job board dedicated to hourly jobs and shift work. You can use Snagajob to post hourly openings, keep track of prospects, schedule online interviews, and fill shifts.
- Social Media – Social Media hiring can be a great way to connect with potential candidates. Facebook groups are a great place to start, as they allow you to target specific interests and demographics. You can also post job openings on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks.
- Employer Branding – If you have a strong employer brand, it will make it easier to attract top talent. Make sure your website and recruitment materials highlight the positive aspects of working for your company. Use your brand’s social media channels to announce new job openings and promote your company culture.
- Employee Referral Program – Employee referral programs are a great way to identify potential employees who already share your company values and might be a good fit for your culture. Plus, it’s cost-effective because you’re not paying to recruit and interview new candidates.
- Recruitment Agencies – If you’re not sure where to start, or if you don’t have the time to recruit customer service specialists yourself, you can hire a recruitment agency. Recruitment agencies specialize in finding and screening candidates for specific roles, so they can help you find the best possible fit for your company.
Hiring customer service representatives can be tricky, but following these tips will help make the process a little easier. By hiring employees who meet or exceed industry standards, you’ll be able to provide great customer service and set your company apart from the competition.
– Customer Service Representative Responsibilities
Depending on each organization’s needs, the responsibilities of customer service representatives may vary. However, there are some general tasks that all call center reps should be able to handle.
Some of the most common duties of customer service reps include:
- Answering customer inquiries via phone, email, or chat
- Resolving complaints and handling returns
- Upselling products or services
- Gathering information from customers to help resolve their inquiry
When hiring a customer service representative, you’ll need to consider both the hard and soft skills required for the role. Hard skills refer to specific abilities that are necessary for the job, such as typing speed or knowledge of a foreign language.
Soft skills are more personal qualities that employees need in order to be successful, such as being able to stay calm under pressure or having strong communication skills.
The following are some of the key hiring requirements you’ll want to keep in mind when filling a customer service representative role:
- Typing speed of at least 40 words per minute
- Strong computer skills, including experience with Microsoft Office and CRM software
- Excellent communication and problem-solving skills
- Ability to work independently and take initiative
- Willingness to learn new things and take on additional responsibilities
– Customer Service Representative Interview Strategies
There are various ways you can go about interviewing a candidate for a customer service representative role. One common approach is to ask situational questions that will give you an idea of how the candidate would handle certain situations. For example, you might ask them how they would respond to a complaint from a customer who was unhappy with their order.
Another strategy is to have the candidate speak on the phone with one or more customers who are already being serviced by your company. This will help you gauge their communication skills and determine if they’re able to handle difficult conversations. Additionally, it’s important to observe the candidate’s body language during the interview in order to get a sense of their temperament and whether or not they’ll be able to manage stress effectively.
Scenario-based interview questions are a great way to assess how the candidate would handle real-world situations. Come up with a few scenarios that you think will be relevant to your company and ask the candidate how they would respond.
Here are a few examples of real-world scenarios you can use in your interview:
- A customer is angry and raising their voice on the phone. How do you handle the situation?
- You’ve received several complaints about a particular agent. What do you do?
- A customer has asked for a refund but you’re not sure if they’re eligible. How do you decide whether or not to issue the refund?
- A customer bought a pair of the new dark denim skinny jeans, and one of them has a tear in it. They frequently buy from your company, and this is the first time anything like this has occurred. How would you proceed?
- A customer is canceling their order. What would you do?
- You receive a phone call from a distressed customer who says they entered the wrong credit card number when placing an online order and now it’s been declined. How can we assist them?
After the candidate completed this exercise, ask them to explain their answers and then had a conversation with each candidate about how they would respond in different situations.
– Interview Questions For Customer Service Representative
Job interviews are now largely conducted remotely, and since many customer service and contact center jobs already entail remote work, assessing job seekers’ communication skills and professionalism by phone or video is a good method to assess their communication abilities and professionalism, important competencies needed to succeed in the position.
Here are great customer service interview questions to ask:
- Can you give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond for a customer?
- What was the most difficult customer service issue that you had to deal with, and how did you handle it?
- How have you dealt with frustrated callers?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to use multiple resources to solve an issue for a client?
- Have you ever had to work with a difficult supervisor or co-worker, and how did you manage the situation?
- What do you think are the key qualities of successful customer service representatives?
- What is your favorite part of customer service?
– Customer Service Representative Salary
The average salary for a Customer Service Representative is $35,000. However, with the right skills and experience, customer service reps can make up to $60,000 per year.
Salary breakdown to be approximately $17.03 an hour. This is the equivalent of $681/week or $2,951/month.
According to recent job postings on ZipRecruiter, both the Customer Service Representative job market in Chicago, IL, and the adjacent areas is extremely active. In Los Angeles, a Customer Service Representative makes an average of $36,251 per year or $838 (2%) more than the nationwide typical yearly salary of $35,413. Customer Service Representatives in Illinois rank number one out of 50 states when it comes to earnings.
Some of the factors that affect salaries include:
- Location: Customer service representatives in major metropolitan areas typically earn more than those in rural areas.
- Company size: The larger the company, the more it will likely pay its customer service representatives.
- Experience: Customer service reps who have been with a company for several years often receive higher salaries than those who are new to the job.
- Skills: Certain skills — such as problem-solving or conflict resolution — can command higher salaries.
The key takeaways when hiring customer service representatives are:
- Expect to pay more for customer support reps who work in major metropolitan areas.
- Higher salaries tend to go to those with more experience and skills such as problem-solving or conflict resolution.
- Pay attention to the company’s size, as larger companies typically will offer higher salaries than smaller ones.
When it comes to hiring customer service representatives, it’s important to keep in mind the various factors that can affect salary. For example, metropolitan areas often have a higher cost of living than rural areas, so customer support reps who work in those cities typically receive higher salaries. Additionally, companies that are larger in size typically offer employees more money than their smaller counterparts.
Finally, experience and skillsets like problem-solving or conflict resolution are also highly sought-after by employers and can result in a higher paycheck. By keeping these factors in mind when looking to hire new customer service staff, you’ll be able to find individuals who will make a positive impact on your company while meeting your budgetary restrictions.
This is still a guide, and we encourage you to conduct your own research and discover the best fit for your organization because there are so many variables involved in hiring a Customer Service Representative.