“How customers feel when they interact with an employee determines how they feel about the company itself. “ ~ Daniel Goleman, author

Do you have the right personality to work in customer service? You might answer, “I’m not in the customer service department, so I don’t need any personality.”


Do you work for or own a business? Do you have customers? It doesn’t matter which department you work for, if your business has customers, either internal or external, then you are in the customer service business. Period!

Unfortunately, many people and many businesses don’t see it that way.

Let me be perfectly clear (I’m sounding like a politician now). If your business has any customers, then you are in the customer service industry. And you need the right personality to deal with people, especially if there are any problems with your product or services.

People who work in customer support know that how they deal with customers will determine whether those customers come back and do business with you in the future. In today’s highly competitive environment where your competition is only a click away, it’s all about customer loyalty and repeat business. So, attitude (and personality) is everything!

A majority of company-specific skills can be taught or learned with time, but how someone treats others is ingrained within us. I am not sure how easy it is to teach compassion or empathy. Can you train someone to be kinder or more patient?

If you are hiring for a customer service position, you may want to administer a personality profile to see if a prospective candidate has the right traits and characteristics to deal with angry or upset customers. Not everyone is cut out for the job.

According to research by the administrators of the Myers-Briggs® Personality Profiles, the people that are best suited for customer service positions are passionate, empathetic, supportive and reliable, which comes under the ENFJ personality type.

And with the DiSC® Personality Profiles, the best customer service representatives fall under the “i” and “S” profiles, those people who are outgoing, enthusiastic, tactful and even-tempered.

In addition to the traits mentioned above, a company should look for employees who have a high level of Emotional Intelligence, those people who have the ability to recognize, understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It is a term popularized by the author, Daniel Goleman, in his 1995 book of the same name. Goleman theorized there are five key elements of emotional intelligence:

Because no two customers are the same, it’s important that those in customer service are able to recognize and understand other people’s feelings, moods and reactions, as it is a crucial element in building successful, meaningful relationships. If this relationship is missing, it will make it harder for a customer service rep to make a connection with a customer.

People with higher emotional intelligence are also better at understanding their own psychological state and are able to manage stress effectively.

The last two attributes needed for a great customer service rep are great listening skills and a positive attitude. To be honest, these are skills you should be looking for in all employees. And it should be noted that most of the personality traits discussed above are not listed on résumés, so it’s important for HR professionals to dig a little deeper by asking the right questions and administering personality profiles to make sure they are getting the best person for the job that will fit in with your company culture.

The best customer service representatives understand their product and service, but they really understand people. They don’t just want the problem fixed, they want happy customers after the problem has been fixed. And don’t you want them representing your company?

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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