“No matter how good or successful you are, your business and its future are in the hands of the people you hire.” Akio Morita, Sony Corp. co-founder

If you are serious about being better than your competitors and want to start delivering exceptional customer service, then you need to begin with your hiring process. Employing the right people is the first step towards delivering outstanding customer service.

It’s the people you hire that make or break your business and brands! Get it right and your business will boom. Get it wrong and you can be destroyed. It’s a long way back when that happens.

“Hire for attitude and personality, you can teach the business skills later.”

I read an article recently by Mary Shulzhenko, from Provide Support LLC. She was asking, “how do you know they are actually the right people for representing your brand and serving your customers effectively”?

Here are a few ideas to help you make better choices.

1. Spend time getting it right.

Looking for good customer service people is no simple task. In many instances, the position is given to one of the early candidates, so the problem goes away, rather than spending time finding the right person. Don’t take it as a given, the person with good qualifications, experience and skills has the right attitude and mindset to blend with your team and match your business goals.

2. Toss the Resume aside, It’s all about the Interview

A resume only shows previous experience, it won’t tell you anything about their attitude or personality.

Tell the candidate before they come to the interview, you will be looking for examples of how they have provided outstanding customer experiences in the past. This way they come prepared with facts and examples you can discuss and form an opinion about. It will also show how they will fit with your company values, goals and aspirations. This is the time for your potential candidates to open up and let their personality shine. I suggest you have one of your best customer service employees sit with you in the interview and ask questions of the candidate.

“You have less than 7 seconds to form a customer impression. You had better get it right!”

3. Look for Excellent communicators

They say you have less than 7 seconds for a customer to form an opinion of your service offer. If you can’t build rapport and trust early on, there is little chance of providing a great customer experience. Great customer service is all about creating personal, positive connections. That’s why excellent communication skills are a must for customer-focused positions: Listen how well the candidate communicates their story and examples. Ask questions to draw out communication examples.

“You have two ears & one mouth – use them in that order.”

4. Hire good ears

Being a great listener is the key to understanding customer’s needs, wants and concerns, especially when dealing with angry customers. A good listener will be able to ask the right questions and figure out the real issue behind customer’s frustration in order to offer the best solution. Have a conversation and check to see how well they listened.

5. Employ team players

Providing a great customer experience often means working closely with other team members or divisions. You need someone that can communicate well and look for solutions amongst the teams. Good team players will be comfortable working in a collaborative environment with colleagues, management and customers. Get examples of previous team challenges and solutions achieved.

6. Look for leaders

Leadership skills are great in customer experience roles, especially when there is conflict or issues and they want someone to make a decision and provide a suitable outcome. Leaders are also excellent problem solvers, responsibility takers and decision makers. Look for examples and previous experience in a leadership role.

“If your people don’t think and act like you, then your business will not be what you want.”

7. Hire the right mindset

In order to provide a great customer experience every day, day in, day out, requires a special person with a special mindset. If they are not totally committed to a customer service role, it will quickly show in your service offer. You need someone that is totally customer focused, will go the extra mile to make things happen and keep the customer happy. They also need to create a positive and memorable experience, so the customer will return and recommend you to their friends. Look for examples that support this mindset, or ask questions of what they would do in a particularly difficult customer example you may have recently had.

“Train them – don’t blame them.”

8. Train for Skills

Your customer service people are the face of your business and brand. They can build or destroy your company reputation. Once found and hired, put enough effort into regular trainings to make sure they not only know your products or services, but know how to provide the customer experience you want delivered.

Remember, the right people who can deliver outstanding customer service experiences every day, create happy loyal customers and referrals. These people help build your business and brands rather than destroy it.

Brian Rosnell is a professional customer experience and leadership trainer with betterment training.

brian@betterment.co.nz  |  www.betterment.co.nz