Improve customer care through effective recruitment

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Recruiting customer service staff presents several unique challenges. More than anything else, customer service staff need to be a good fit with the organisation – there cannot be a divide between those running the business and those delivering its customer service experience.

It is worth remembering the old idiom “people buy from people”. It’s important to recruit people who are eager and willing to embrace your brand. You want people who demonstrate the core behaviours that customers buy into – a warm and friendly manner, a positive attitude and evidence of experience and expertise. If you recruit staff who display these attributes, you can always broaden their skill-set later through people development programmes. You can train someone to answer technical questions in an understandable way, but you can’t train them to have a particular attitude. As the old saying goes, “Recruit for will, train for skill”. When you start thinking in this way, it will become apparent what a good investment customer service training is for frontline staff.

As a bare minimum, the team leader should be involved in the interview process, not just HR staff. Although HR may have prepared an excellent job description, it’s also important that the team leader has prepared a clear specification of the sort of person they are looking for and have personalised customer service training prepared for when the right candidate is hired. For this reason, it’s recommended that you handle your customer service recruitment ‘in house’, rather than letting an agency take care of it.

It’s also important to include some actual telephone screening. Someone who interviews brilliantly in person won’t necessarily be able to translate that performance to speaking on the phone with a customer. This screening should include some role-play using ‘real world’ situations – the sort of conversations the person is likely to be having with customers as opposed to generic ‘sell this pen over the phone’ style scenarios. We all know how expensive the recruitment and selection process can be, not to mention any programmes – whether they focus on leadership development or employee motivation – that will be necessary. If you get it wrong and allow one to slip through the recruitment net, then you’ll spend considerable time and money trying to turn that ‘sow’s ear into a silk purse’ – and no programme to improve customer care will ever remedy that error, so make sure your recruitment process is an effective one!

Hello... I'm Marie Cross

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