Great service means great people. Steve DiGioia looks at the key traits you need to consider when hiring your ideal Customer Service Agent.
We scour resume after resume in search of the best candidate. But, as a service provider, we never truly know the applicant’s skill set until they’re hired and in contact with your precious customers.
Sometimes we’re lucky and hire a gem who goes on to build customer relationships lasting years. This is a dream hire. But other times, we hire a dud who chases our clients away. You can’t get rid of an employee like this quick enough.
Imagine if you could build the ideal customer service agent. What would you do? What skills would you desire? What personal characteristics are so important to you, and your customers, that each new hire is required to possess?
Go ahead and pick your top 5 traits that you’d choose to build the ideal customer service agent.
Poise – Always cool under pressure and never seems to get “rattled” when things go bad.
Confidence – Fear takes a back seat to this person who’s not afraid to take the lead.
Empathy – You can feel the pain of another and are able to understand their point of view without it conflicting with yours.
Self-starter – No need to wait for someone to “say go”, you’re ready to start your project right away. You have little need for coaxing to get it done and seldom need help from others.
Curious – Interested in why things are, why they happen, and how to improve on the present way of doing things.
Can Go Off Script – Nobody needs to write your words. You can “think-on-your-feet” as needed and relish the opportunity to find a solution to solve the issue of the day.
Coachable – You’re not a “know-it-all” and will easily take directions and suggestions. Even if you already know the answer you politely give thanks for the advice and counsel.
Patience – Not everything should be rushed. You can identify situations where customers and fellow team members need more time to explain, recall, or summon information. You’re a good listener too.
Anticipatory – To you, what may happen is just as important as what did or didn’t happen. You plan for the unforeseen and know what to do if it happens.
Self-Aware – You know how your actions, mannerisms, and words affect others. You’re able to manage your emotions and behaviors and know how others perceive you.
Timely – You get tasks done as needed and when needed. On-time is not good enough. You want to be early, “just in case”.
Goal-Driven – You put your plan to paper and the plan is the road map to your success. You know where and when you must do something to reach your intended target.
Big Picture Thinking – You’re able to come up with new ideas, create opportunities where none existed, and revamp existing ways to streamline and improve the status quo.
Sweat the Small Stuff – No detail is too small for you. You understand how each task, each product, and each employee must be at their peak to operate efficiently and profitably. You’re hands-on to ensure all goes well.
Life-Long Student – School is not the end of your learning. You routinely take classes or online courses, read industry magazines, or listen to podcasts to increase your knowledge and provide value to your employer and customer.
Willing to Try Something New – Just because “we’ve always done it this way” doesn’t mean there isn’t another alternative that may work even better. Those who never tried something new, lose out on potentially magical experiences.
Respectful – You follow the “golden rule” and show respect up and down the chain of command.
So, you’ve picked your five top traits to build the ideal customer service agent. You’re all set. But are you? Do you only need 5? Can any agent be ideal with just 5 top traits? Probably not.
What’s next? Pick your next 5 traits and keep going. Do the exercise again. Then What?
How about identifying the position-specific characteristics needed to perform the job.
- Pleasant voice
- Able to sit for extended periods of time
- Able to perform repeated tasks
- Can explain procedures clearly
- Manage large amounts of incoming calls
- Flexible schedule to meet business demand
- Able to fill other positions as needed
Now we’re talking! Piece by piece the ideal customer service agent is coming together. Next on your list is training him/her on your company’s best practices, available methods of customer contact, service metrics, and overall expectations, just to name a few.
Is this really the perfect customer service agent? Maybe. Maybe not. But you sure have put together a potential stellar person who can help your business prosper and one your customers will love.
About the Author
With 20+ years in the hospitality industry and a lifetime of customer service experience, Steve DiGioia uses storytelling to share real-world tips and tactics to improve your customer service, increase employee morale and provide the experience your customers desire.
As a certified trainer, author & speaker, Steve has been recognized as a three-time “World’s Top 30 Customer Service Professional” by Global Gurus.org and a “Top 50 Customer Thought Leader” by ICMI. He is also a featured contributor to the leading hospitality and customer service websites. Steve continues his pursuit of excellence on his award-winning blog sharing his best tips on customer service, management, and leadership. Follow Steve on Twitter @Steve DiGioia.