“To keep a customer demands as much skill as to win one.” ~Proverb

Customer service can make or break your businesses reputation, so when hiring someone who will work with your customers in some way, doesn’t it make sense to hire the best person for the job? Being well known for your customer service will lead to more Repeat Business, higher Customer Loyalty, and therefore increased profits.

And let’s be honest, everyone in your business, whether a small startup, a mid-size company or large corporation is in the customer service department. No matter the size of your business, hiring the right people, training them and rewarding them for outstanding service is the key to continued success.

With that in mind, here are nine key attributes to look for during the hiring process. This is just a starter list, but still very important. Remember, while the resume is important (you will verify all information on the resume, won’t you?), it is also critical to look past the resume and try and get to know the individual.

  • Attitude. This is where it always starts. A person’s attitude is one of the most important qualities to look for. The old saying is true, “Hire for attitude, train for skill”.
  • Communication Skills. This includes the proper use of the language, as well as great listening skills. The best customer service representatives are always the best listeners.
  • Enthusiasm. It’s important to hire someone who is not just looking for any job, but the specific job you are hiring for. Give special attention to someone who comes in knowing something about your company and your products or services. Take notice of the questions they ask.
  • Personality. Everyone in the customer service field needs to have some sort of personality, and not act like they are the best thing since sliced bread. (Okay, not the newest analogy, but you get my point.) A person must have a sense of humor, and be able to laugh at themselves and not take themselves too seriously. Remember, an ugly personality destroys a pretty (or handsome) face.
  • Flexibility. No matter the size of the business, it’s important your team members are able to multitask and demonstrate their willingness to shoulder a variety of responsibilities. They need to be able to jump right in and do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Ask for examples of times when they pitched in to do something that wasn’t expected. “It’s not my job” can be a direct path to failure.
  • Positivity. This is so important, as being able to look on the bright side of life is an example of strength and resilience that can benefit your company. Negativity is a disease that can destroy a department or entire business. If an applicant spends the entire interview bashing his or her former company or boss, run the other way. If they are saying nasty things about other people, they will say it about you.
  • Resourceful. When running into obstacles or difficult people, they need to be able to think on their feet and get the job done quickly and efficiently.
  • Eager to Learn. This is so important, especially in a small business setting. People should have a lifelong willingness to learn, no matter what their age. Look for signs of continuing education or certificates that indicate a desire to constantly improve.
  • Willing to Take Responsibility. Being responsible and accountable are two attributes that make a prospective employee stand out. Ask for examples of a time they went above and beyond the call of duty in order to help a co-worker or make sure a project got finished.

This list should be used as a starting point and is not complete by any stretch of the imagination. Again, make sure you check references and do your due diligence in researching a person’s past record. Your employees set the tone and will determine the success for your company, so make sure you put in the time to hire the right people. Failing to do so will cost you time and money in eventually having to replace them. Is that what you really want to spend your time doing?

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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