- Qualities you need to look for when hiring a prospect team member
- Components of a job description to find the perfect customer support representative
- An onboarding strategy for customer service team members
When you started your business, answering one or two questions a day isn’t such a big deal.
However, the more your business grows, you’ll find yourself answering a pile of questions. Also, possible returns and difficult customers can be too much to deal with.
How would you handle a question from an angry customer? You need to tread lightly because interactions with your customers are a make-or-break moment for your online store. According to a study from Microsoft Dynamics 365, will end a relationship with a business because of poor customer 58% of American consumers service.
So hiring the right people to deal with customer questions and inquiries is fundamental to your success in the long run.
Read on to learn what to look for in a customer service representative, where to find them, and how to properly train them to deal with difficult customers.
Let’s begin with — when should you hire a customer service team member?
When is the right time to recruit a customer service team?
As your communication channels grow in numbers, so do the inquiries you face each day. If you are spending more time answering questions than on other aspects of your business, then it’s time to look for help.
There are other factors you need to consider about your business operations.
For instance, check up on your other team members. When they feel overwhelmed with customer questions, it might be hard to work efficiently. Hiring a new customer service representative is the best solution to keep them from struggling to keep up.
Make sure you pay attention to your key analytics. Observe measurements like incoming support tickets, demand for digital feedback, and customer feedback. Once you see the analytics lower than they usually are, then adding a member will help maintain the quality of your service.
Lastly, list the number of questions you receive each day on a spreadsheet. Check how many interactions a team member can handle per day, as well as the cost for each member. If it isn’t proportionate to your business’ growth rate, it’s time to hire for more help.
To make things a bit easier, there are contact center solutions that include a workforce management (WFM) feature that can help you ensure that you allocate the right number of agents, with the right set of skills all the time.
Now that you know the signs on when to hire customer service representatives, let’s explore the qualities you need to look out for.
What to look for in a customer support representative?
Customer service representatives are your first line of defense for customers’ requests and queries. To solve customer problems, they will need to have extensive knowledge about your business.
So your customer service team should be the ones you can trust. They represent your brand for potential customers. The bottom line is hiring the first person you meet might not be the best course of action you can take.
One bad hire can cost you your customers, as well as your time and effort finding a new one. A report finds that it can cost you up to $240,000 in expenses. That includes your expenses when hiring and training. Don’t rush hiring a customer service rep, and take your time assessing each prospect.
List the skills you want in a perfect candidate. Here are some you can consider:
One of the skills a customer service rep needs to have is patience. They need to know how to deal with demanding customers. That skill should translate into how they talk to frustrated customers.
They should also be able to communicate effectively through writing. Take a look at their resume for typos or incorrect grammar. It may also be the way they write emails for customers. Avoid possible miscommunications by hiring someone who takes their time writing their thoughts.
Don’t leave out the human element in your customer service. Inquiries can sometimes get heated, which can lead to a poor customer experience.
When you hire someone empathetic, customer complaints will go down, naturally. The number of all escalations beyond your first line of team members should also drop.
Time management skills
During times of high demand such as holiday seasons, your customer service team would have to deal with several support tickets. This requires superb organizational skills and time management skills.
This also means their availability for work needs to line up with your high-demand hours. Be upfront about work schedules and ask candidates if they are okay reporting to work at those times.
Aptitude for business
As mentioned before, your representatives are advocates for your brand. While they are solving customers’ questions, they are speaking for your business at the same time.
That’s why extensive knowledge about your product and company is a must. Frustrated customers will be even more agitated if they talk to someone who doesn’t understand their concerns.
This is where training comes in. The right customer service representative candidates should be willing to learn and grow their skills as a professional.
Methodical in their approach
Before replying, a detail-oriented person will think deliberately about their solution. After all, hasty replies can cause miscommunication and misinformation, which can not be helpful to your customer at all.
A good customer service rep will also need to proofread constantly. Written responses need to be thoughtful to avoid miscommunication. This is also to prevent typos, which can be read as unprofessional.
Going above expectations
Wanting to go the extra mile for your customers’ complaints creates a good customer experience. Solving a problem is all well and good, but you also want your customers to tell their friends about their experience with your brand.
Not all customer queries are so clear cut. When faced with a complex customer concern, you want your agents to be able to navigate the problem and find the right solution given the resources available to them.
At the very least, you want agents to find the best compromise with the customer when the resolution that the customer wants is not available.
The next step is to find the perfect people for the job. Let’s go over how to write your job description correctly and where to post it.
How to find the right customer support representative?
1. Define and create a job description
To get the best candidates, promote yourself as an appealing employer. Consider your job description as a promotional tool. You can get your brand in front of the people who need to know and expand your reach.
For your job description, don’t be afraid to be honest about what you are looking for in a customer service representative. Doing so will immediately eliminate people who are not serious about the job. You can include the following on your job post:
- A brief description of your business
- Describe the role you are looking to fill as well as the responsibilities
- List of skills and qualifications you need in a candidate
- Assess putting in the role’s salary range and benefits
Include instructions on how the candidates can contact you for the job. This includes where they can send their cover letter and resume. If possible, you can include selected questions, such as their availability and location.
To gain prime candidates, be mindful of your language in your job post. Use gender-neutral pronouns and be inclusive. You can also highlight your brand’s diversity plan as a part of your business description.
2. Post your job to attract the right candidates
There are traditional methods you can take when looking for candidates. Job posting sites can help you cast a wide net in your search. If your business is already established, use your network and staff referrals. Ask your business partners for a recommendation of who they think matches your job description.
You can also consider external recruiters who can do the work for you. Professionals such as headhunters can also get candidates they think are perfect for the job.
If your business has a LinkedIn profile, you can contact candidates directly and offer them an interview. Be personal in your message to show them a more human approach.
3. Evaluate applications
As mentioned, an excellent customer service representative needs to be methodical in their approach. Their resume and cover letter need to reflect their skills.
Take into account screening the candidates’ responses to your job post questions. Look through the contents of their resume and cover letter for their writing skills. They need to demonstrate their attention to detail, such as editing their work. The candidates with a well-written response are worth looking into.
4. Interview applicants
If possible, you can do a pre-interview through the phone. You can briefly introduce your business. Ask them questions about their experiences written on their resume. Check if they can clearly answer your questions and if they sound professional over the phone.
Once you have narrowed down your choices, you can now conduct interviews. Maximize both your and the candidate’s time by carefully planning the interview questions based on your job description.
After you have vetted each candidate, check the references they gave you. Listen for variations with the references from the information the candidate has written.
5. Complete a test project
Before officially onboarding a prospect representative, you can do a test run to give them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills.
You can do a live demo for them. Allot a time for a demo where you can ask them real questions from customers. The candidates can show how they perform under stress and how you can train them during the onboarding process.
6. Onboard your new customer service representative
The onboarding process is a critical moment for your new hire to be a successful venture. Make sure to welcome them on their first day of work. Then, provide a walkthrough of your business, your customers, and the day-to-day operation.
Alternately, you can partner them up with someone you trust with customer support. They can get all the information they need about frequently asked questions, as well as the standard procedure when answering emails and inquiries.
Additionally, cover all the necessary documents for employment. This may include tax forms, financial account details, SSN, etc.
Make sure that they have all the tools they need at hand. Before they can dive in with their first customer, you can check their draft for approval.
Finally, keep yourself or a team leader available for questions they might have. Give them feedback whenever necessary to keep your business working smoothly.
Handling customer queries by yourself is ok when you have a small business. But as your business grows, hiring the right people to provide support becomes necessary to keep customers’ experience positive.
Originally published Sep 07, 2021, updated Mar 07, 2022