Why Hiring Customer Service Reps Can Be Unexpectedly Difficult

by / Tuesday, 22 July 2014 / Published in Small Business Hiring

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A business’s customer service department is its first line of defense when it comes to reputation management, customer retention and gathering customer feedback, so it is important that the reps within the department are a match both for the organizational needs of the position as well as the company culture as represented by its branding. For this reason, hiring customer service representatives can be  a much more time consuming process than one might originally expect. Still, it pays to be thorough when interviewing prospective employees, and for an important client facing position like customer service, breaking up the hiring process into a few more steps than you might otherwise take is a prudent measure.

When looking at resumes, look for customer service experience as well as experience that matches your small business’s environment. Looking at a pile of resumes for customer service positions can be more difficult than, for example, an accounting position. When looking for someone to work with the books, most of the experience that will make a resume stand out will be extremely tangible, such as a high level of Excel mastery that can be demonstrated through a document attached along with a resume. By contrast, customer service experience on a resume can be less easy to pin down, since the approach taken and responsibilities included in the role can vary pretty greatly depending on the type of business previously worked at. A rep with extensive experience working in a call center, for example, might not be the best fit for an in-store position. Going beyond a simple background in customer service and looking at the finer detail of their past positions should be taken seriously to avoid fruitless interviews.

Phone interviews prior to physical interviews are an important time saving step for you and potential hires. Since your customer service reps will be speaking on the phone (usually), a phone interview where you are able to get a sense of how they communicate is a good way to start thinning the pool of applicants before bringing people into the office to test if they will be a good fit. Asking interview questions that allow them to demonstrate both their mannerisms while communicating as well as describe some of their past experience will paint a clearer picture of whether or not they are a fit with your small business. You may even want to run a mock complaint by them to see how they would speak with a hypothetical customer.

Photo Credit to reynermedia on Flickr

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