The Two Key Skills to Hire For in Customer Service Roles

Omer Molad, Co-founder and CEO at Vervoe

Omer Molad, Co-founder and CEO at Vervoe believes that by doing your due diligence and choosing an appropriate skills test, you can determine if candidates possess the right levels of empathy and resilience.

Most recruiters want customer service professionals with excellent communication,  problem-solving skills, as well as a willingness to learn. But in an industry where you can expect to have difficult conversations with customers several times a day, there are two attributes that recruiters should prioritize above all others: empathy and resilience.

The Importance of Empathy in Customer Service Roles

In the context of a customer service role, having empathy means being able to affirm customers’ feelings; understanding their concerns and frustrations and ensuring they are heard and respected.

It won’t always be possible to reverse a mistake or quickly resolve a problem. Still, when a customer service professional engages with empathy, it provides the customer with the reassurance and comfort that they are doing everything they can. This can de-escalate tensions and buy your team a little more time to assess and appropriately manage a challenging circumstance.

In addition, customers are more likely to reflect positively on their dealings with a brand when they have communicated with an empathetic customer service professional. Empathy is important because it helps your team to build meaningful, long-lasting relationships and ultimately retain loyal, happy, and satisfied customers – including those who have encountered problems with your organization’s products or services.

Customers often scrutinize a company’s response to a problem much more than the problem itself.

Tips for Assessing Empathy in Job Candidates

  1. Empathy is about listening. You may be impressed by how articulate and eloquent a candidate is during the job interview, but can they listen?
  2. If the candidate visits your office, observe how they interact with people including security staff, receptionists, and junior employees. Are they polite, respectful, and appreciative?
  3. Ask scenario-based interview questions: How would they respond if an angry customer approached them with a query? What would they do if a co-worker showed up to a meeting in tears?
  4. Speak to their referees to gain insight into how the candidate interacts with people.

The Importance of Resilience in Customer Service Roles

Suppose customer service roles demand high levels of empathy in the name of keeping your customers happy. In that case, it is resilience that enables employees to deliver on this expectation continually – even in the most trying or upsetting situations.

Catering to shifting customer needs requires patience and a willingness to pivot at short notice. The most resilient in your workforce will be best equipped to manage the stresses and pressures that come with both the unpredictability of consumer behavior and accompanying high expectations.

One of the more unpleasant parts of working in a customer service role is handling rude or abusive customers. Hopefully, these instances are rare, but it certainly helps if your employees can navigate any hostile situations with poise and calm. Resilience in customer service roles includes standing their ground, asserting themselves reasonably and fairly, and picking themselves up and carrying on afterward.

Tips for Assessing Resilience in Job Candidates

  1. Ask the candidate to provide examples of when they were last angry, frustrated or, upset in the workplace. How did they manage these situations?
  2. Ask scenario-based interview questions – how would they respond if a customer suddenly demanded a different service or an interaction descended into abuse?
  3. Assess the candidate’s ability to reflect on and relay challenging events in a measured way. Can they provide a reasoned, balanced perspective and demonstrate their ability to learn and move on from their experiences?

Final Thoughts

Empathy and resilience have long been seen as nebulous skills that only reveal themselves in an on-the-job setting. But pre-employment testing has come a long way for both technical and so-called soft skills like these. Don’t take a candidates’ word for it; do your due diligence, choose an appropriate skills test, and determine if candidates possess the right levels of empathy and resilience before you hire them.

About the Author

Omer Molad is Co-founder and CEO at Vervoe. He is on a mission to make hiring about merit, not background.

Vervoe replaces the traditional hiring process with skills assessments and gives every candidate an opportunity to showcase their talent by doing job-related tasks.

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