Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quality Hiring for Customer Service

Written by Doron Levy

Hiring for customer service can be a daunting task for any business. How do you go about finding the right candidate? What should you look for in a potential customer service representative? Is it enough to have a warm body at the register or answering the phones? Customer service is the one aspect of your business that can be controlled and will directly influence your bottom line through increased and repeat sales.

Here are some pointers on finding qualified candidates that will add your bottom line. There are things to look for before the interview process begins. Perhaps during a quick chat when someone drops off a resume or during the telephone call to schedule the interview. Note the general attitude of the candidate. Are they friendly, open minded and outgoing? Assess their outlook and opinions on what is good customer service. Does the candidate show enthusiasm in wanting to help solve customers’ problems? How is their body language and projection? A lot can be said about an individual’s extroverted-ness and self-esteem by how they carry themselves. Each are good indicators of how well they will engage customers and work with them. A final note: an individual’s grooming habits are important as this shows their level of self esteem as well as their attention to detail.

The first impressions are good and we have our candidate at the interview. This is the time to really get inside the candidate’s head by asking specific and open ended questions. It is effective is to ask some ramp up questions to get the individual thinking about customer service. A good opening question would be, “What is your opinion on customer service?” and a good follow up would be, “What do you feel is excellent customer service?” Asking the candidate about past negative and positive interactions that they have had opens the door to asking how they would solve the negative interaction. Avoid one word answer questions, such as yes or no, completely. Individuals that can provide longer and more explicit answers, demonstrate that they have used some thought process when thinking about the question.

During the interview, look at the individual’s posture and self esteem. Are they confident about themselves and their answer? Can they project their voice and command the attention of your customer? This will also indicate extroverted-ness and a genuine willingness to engage the customer voluntarily. A good wrap up to any interview is an interactive mini role play between you and the candidate. Create the role play based on your product or service and use a demanding situation that will force the candidate the think about what they need to do to provide excellent customer service. When hiring for customer service, it is important to remember that whoever you give the job to will be representing your business to your customer.

Doron Levy is president of Captus Business Consulting. Captus provides support to the retail industry. His blog can be found at and can he can be reached at

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