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New Customer service Management

Author rsm35mil
#1 | Posted: 8 Feb 2007 07:47 
I have been recently put into a management position for a small customer service team. In future months, this team will be growing rapidly. Due to my inexperience interviewing specifically for customer service, I have run into a few problems with employees that I have chosen.

Are there any pointers or tips that anyone can recommend to determine if someone has the right personality to be an effective customer service representative

Author KarenSB
#2 | Posted: 10 Feb 2007 10:45 
Make a list of the competencies required for the position, then conduct interviews to determine the depth and breadth of the competencies the candidate displays.

Some examples, not inclusive and not in any hierarchical order, that I would look for in a CS rep:
Integrity and trust
Ethics and values
Customer focus
Dealing w/Ambiguity
Conflict management
Problem Solving
Results driven
Understanding others

I would craft my interview questions, clear my head, and really listen to the responses. Those responses will be quite telling.

Oh, and the questions? I like to receive examples and hear their stories. So I tend to use:

Tell me about a time where you dealt with an irate customer. What happened, how did it get resolved, and what was the outcome?

If hiring at the just out of school level, I would tweak the question just a bit. Tell me about a time where you dealt with an irate friend, classmate, teacher...

And as nature abhors a vacuum, so, I believe, does talent selection. We humans are quick to judgment, and our impressions are often skewed. That said, I try to have an interview team so that I can garner multiple perspectives.

Good luck to you,

Author ayaree
#3 | Posted: 11 Feb 2007 16:25 
Sometimes I think I have to be the most relaxing interviewer in the world and I wonder whether I would be laughed at for my technique. I do believe in some traditional methods--like the "behavior-based" questions that ask the candidate to demonstrate how they handled x difficult situation...and I looked for signs of experience in the trade that include speaking with a smile on the phone, listening during an initial rant, then responding to the angry customer with a low voice or some approach that amounts to "You've been through a lot, wow, I'm glad you got to me so that I can help get you of this problem."

But I think there is a value being a down-to-earth person taking the edge of the interview experience, so that you can get to down to a human level and really see some of the person. By eliminating the official and scary nature of the situation, you open more doors of self-expression. If you ask someone what they liked and did not like about a certain position, you get to see whether they will make critical statements about previous employers in an unprofessional manner in the more comfortable interview setting. You see what is "fair" to that person, and can assess whether their perspectives are in the right place, per you. You can also ask, "Is there something you would have wanted to be involved in more deeply at that company but didn't get the chance?" By encouraging someone to talk about their "wish lists" or what would drive them if only they had a chance, you have an opportunity to hear things that motivate them. And imagine whether they would find comparable opportunities in your work setting.

And along the way, I would watch for some of the things that I believe are what define customer service: exercising consistency, preventing problems based on learnings, being a "sleuth," getting to the bottom of a problem and being thorough about the details of a situation, creating trails of work activity so that others can pick up where you left off.

I guess a general way of looking at interviews is that if someone can rattle off a lot of details when describing experiences, that shows a reliable, motivated person who is capable of handling a situation effectively, as opposed to someone who finds nothing enthusing about the specifics that go into helping someone.

Not sure if that was helpful...Feedback would be appreciated. I don't think I am necessarily on the same wavelength as a lot of posters here (so "formal" and "salesy"!!) and maybe I am not doing anyone much good!

Author Michele Eby
#4 | Posted: 14 Feb 2007 08:37 
I think there is a lot of value in what has already been said. Behavior-based questions get examples instead of hypothetical answers on tangible skills and experiences. And a relaxed intervew may help you understand a candidate's wishes for the future, or even prompt the candidate to let his or her guard down enough to speak badly of a previous employer or disrespectfully of a customer, for example.

I'd like to add, however, how important it is to gain a balanced assessment of the candidate, especially if the answers you're getting are your ideal. If you find yourself thinking how great the candidate is and virtually ready to hire on the spot, take a moment to ask some questions that will help you gain insight about when things went wrong.

Although behavior-based questions are better than hypotehticals, prepared candidates are still going to give you positive examples, stories that illustrates their strengths. If you ask a question about a time they handled an irate customer, it's likely they'll give you an example that turned out well. Follow it up with a time they dealt with an irate customer and it turned out poorly. Again, a relaxed interviewer helps in this area too.

Author rsm35mil
#5 | Posted: 16 Feb 2007 13:04 
Thank you for your suggestions on what qualities you look for in a candidate, and for the example questions of how to determine if a person posesses those traits. This information is very helpful. Currently, I am finding out by experience what traits to look for, but I have difficulty in asking the right questions to assess those traits in an interview. Any further insight is greatly appreciated.

Your information was indeed helpful, and also encouraging as I prefer to keep a light atmosphere in my interviews. I have found that while interviewing candidates, that if they are more comfortable they are less likely to put on the perfect employee show. I have avoided several potential disasters by keeping it light. If you have any further insight or suggestions on ice breakers or ways to make an interview less stressful, I would be very interested in your ideas. Thanks again for your help.

Michelle Eby-
Thank you Michelle. In many of my interviews I have, as was suggested, asked questions related to previous experiences. I have not followed the question with a request for an instance where they were unsuccessful. This is a tip that I will definitely employ. If you should have any other suggestions or insight, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again

Author ayaree
#6 | Posted: 16 Feb 2007 19:06 
RSM, I'm happy to see your reply! I wish more people would come back and see whether they got anything out of what someone said. Not just to be "nice" and "say thank you," but to see if they got what they needed, ie, did the problem get identified. CS is obviously about being able good interpersonal skills, but my view of it from my own world has been that it doesn't do any good to be "friendly and courteous" for long if you don't know how to find a problem and remove it, then prevent it, because you learned how to spot it. So it feels good to me to see you coming back and looking for more.

Icebreakers...you want to create a situation in which somebody is less stressed and can communicate "naturally." Ask them if they drove (what did you think about the traffic); if they say taxi cab or transit or whatever else, was the driver chatty, was your father/friend/car pooler on his way somewhere, did you see the construction on highway X or were you not coming that way.....

If you have a few hallways to navigate through, you can joke that you will eventually get to a place where you can talk (I have used the word "labyrinth" before, and it is well-received). I have gone through life noticing that others notice I am a fast walker, and I have turned back and made jokes about that very human thing as an ice-breaker.

When you're in the midst of the interview and trying to get a good sense of how this person has applied or would apply their skills in a tough situation....You can turn some of those "formulaic" behavior-based questions into a more down-to-earth conversation. For instance, I remember when I first started interviewing, I would try to take a prescriptive list of questions and inject some personality into it to make it less dry and threatening (or EXPECTED) for the other person. That soon evolved into me translating the questions. One of the favorites has to be "describe a situation in which you confronted a difficult customer and how you handled it" or " What areas do you need to improve upon?" Well, I would say instead: "I'm guessing, you tell me what you think, that you must have found X to be hectic or something that came up on you all of a sudden, did you manage to come out of that OK, etc" and "OK, we've been talking about how you did X, Y at this place, that place, is there something you would have wanted to get better at, either because you didn't have the opportunity, didn't know how at the time...or Is there something you have been wanting to explore and say you got there, but didn't know how to do it?"

Those phrases might be less intimidating and less "sanitized," as in scary dentist's office, but I think it would be important to make sure that the answers (skills, learnings from experience) come out with that more relaxed approach and phrasing. If they are not providing self-critical responses (ie taking advantage), then you can find a question that is less down-to-earth than my phraseology, and they could perform for you on the plus or minus side.

It's hard to spell it out for me, and it's not so much a "formula," but an attempt at a formula is to say that you want to create a situation where a human being in a human challenge is reasonably comfortable enough to show what they have got to offer as a performer and see if they will make use of the relaxed rapport wisely. I can tell you that probably the majority of times I needed to interview someone, I needed to be called by reception or paged, because I was on the heels of a meeting or some business activity. It's an uprooting feeling, and I need to quickly compartmentalize and make this about time for someone who needs to see a representative of what the company has to offer and with the body language and "personal" speech to express it. I can't do that by conforming to an official sheet of questions beneath which I would jot down the person's answers as they watch me (terrified) , but I can get at some results by making it a "conversation" to learn from for me as a human hiring manager.

Did I get closer to giving you what you needed?

Author soni
#7 | Posted: 20 Feb 2007 03:11 
Hi buddy

There are quite a number of things that are really very much necessary to have a long term customer relationship. Some of them out of my knowledge are

Good and Best Customer Care
Moral principles
Gentle and Pleasing appearance
Perfect Listening
Good understanding with the customers

There are some other tips which i found while surfing in the net. Just visit the link and know more about customer management

Management | Performance

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 New Customer service Management

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