Hiring Customer Service Personnel

Being a customer service representative is not in everyone’s DNA. Some people simply are not in the personal and professional mental space to serve customers. Some are interpersonally incompetent. Others lack emotional awareness. Still others are working out personal issues that block professional balance. You want to avoid hiring these people–for the good of everyone, including them. They are not “right for the job” and my experience has been that professional opportunities to learn (“Let’s put them through a customer service training class”) will not budge them into that space.

While working with numerous organizations over the years, I’ve observed that the following competencies are often overlooked or under-emphasized when organizations think about what to look for when selecting and developing their service personnel:

  • Self-confidence – positive self-esteem, notable ability
  • Initiative – being proactive, self-motivated
  • Assertiveness – expressing opinion without being rude
  • Coping Skill – with stress and unruly customers or peers
  • Adaptability/Flexibility – the ability to handle change
  • Oral Communication Skill as a Rapport-builder – connecting with others
  • Problem Solving Ability – diagnose causes of problems, formulate alternative solutions
  • Listening Skill – actively listen to comprehend and establish rapport
  • Self-control – the ability to keep your head when all about you is out of control

A personal and professional maturity is required to serve customers well. That’s why we’ve built these competencies into our customer service training programs and tested their effectiveness over the years. But, there will be the occasional person who doesn’t have the DNA for it. Being alert to this fact allows service managers to do what’s best for the organization and an unsuitable person: help them find a better career match outside the service organization.

What experiences have you had with service personnel who just didn’t have it in their DNA?

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