How to a Hire Customer Service Agents That Don’t Suck
07 Jul 2022 By: Natalya Bucuy
Updated: 26 Jan 2023
“I’ll know it when I see it.”
Even though Supreme Justice Potter Stewart said that famous phrase in relation to obscene adult-content films, we can easily apply it to bad customer service. Even if we don’t know what specifically makes it bad, we definitely know when it’s bad.
And bad customer service negatively affects business revenue. One report cites that “67% of customers have become “serial switchers,” customers who are willing to switch brands because of a poor customer experience.” The report attributes the high turnover of the customer to a lack of emotional connection between the customers and the company. (Forbes)
Eighty-six percent of customers surveyed said that if there were an emotional connection with a customer service agent, they would be willing to continue to do business. However, only 30 percent felt the companies they had interacted with during the past year had made that connection. (Shep Hyken)
And so, when you hire customer service agents, it’s important to make sure that the candidate exhibits qualities that will contribute to creating that emotional connection customers crave. The task of hiring suitable agents can be a daunting one. But don’t worry, we got you!. Here, we present to you the guide to help businesses hire live chat agents that do not suck.
1. Hire Customer Service Agents Who Share Company Values
The idea of company culture has been a trendy topic and a valuable one. After all, whoever you hire to represent your company must be a good fit. Whether you hire customer service agents for an in-person or a remote position matching company values is a must. Stephanie Burns, a startup strategist, outlines three steps to hiring the right candidate.
1. Determine and Define Company Values
Discussing your values with the potential hires can help get an idea of whether or not they can be a good fit. Bringing up hypothetical situations can help illustrate and set expectations.
2. Understand Candidate Motivations
“In the interview, ask questions that get beyond their qualifications and instead, into their personal motivations,” Burns suggests. She advocates for a relaxed setting that can help facilitate honest answers to questions about long and short-term goals, childhood experiences, and other questions that can help you discover a candidate’s personality traits.
3. Ask For Feedback and Get Them Talking
How a candidate frames and delivers feedback can tell you a lot about their personal values, Burns believes. “Regardless of their answers, take note of the feedback and how it changes over the course of your interviews with potential hires. It’s a great thermometer for how well you’re creating tangible company values,” she writes.
The job of a customer service representative entails not only helping customers but also representing your company. Doing so through personalized customer service ensures a genuine connection between the agents and the customers. Personal relationships built on solid values ensure customer loyalty. So figure out who you are as a company and how you want your customers to view you. Then hire customer service agents that fit into your value framework.
2. Hire Customer Service Agents with Specific Desirable Qualities
Making sure you hire customer service agents that believe, uphold, and communicate your company values is a great start. But not just anyone can be a customer service agent. It takes a special kind of person to support customers, day in and day out.
90% of US consumers use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company. (Microsoft)
There is a long list of qualities that make a great customer service agent. At the top of the list are three qualities we want to cover here as we find the most important when you hire customer service agents. They are empathy, excellent communication skills, and product knowledge.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
Empathy is essential in any successful customer experience.
Emotions researcher and sociologist, Brene Brown, defines empathy as follows.
“Empathy is the most powerful tool of compassion. It is an emotional skill set that allows us to understand what someone is experiencing and to reflect back that understanding.” (Brene Brown, Atlas of the Heart)
Brown emphasizes that empathy is not “walking in someone else’s shoes.” Instead, it is a skill set of listening to and being present for other people as they walk in their shoes. The skills of empathy prompt us to understand someone’s experiences and emotions even if our own experiences are different.
“Empathy is not relating to an experience,” Brown writes. “It’s connecting to what someone is feeling about an experience.”
This is an essential skill prospective customer service agents must have. Whether a customer feels frustrated or excited about a product or service, showing empathy will create a personal connection with that customer.
Many books can be written on the topic of communication skills. (And hopefully, people who write those books have good communication skills.) In customer service, listening and asking questions to guide the conversation, are essential.
During an interview, assess a candidate’s communication skills to find a good match for your needs. Once you hire customer service agents, it’s important to keep them fresh and current on their skills.
Here are two resources that might help you do both:
ThankYouForCalling is a playful way to test customer service agents’ spelling, grammar, and typing skills. As they complete a three-part trophy race, they can compare scores with past results and other players. This is a great way to test potential customer service agents and test current ones to improve their skills.
Keeping customers happy requires some consistent communication skills. This Agent Handbook provides guidelines for agents in various areas. From staying positive to adhering to a specific communication style, this resource is sure to remind agents about the essentials.
Product Knowledge and Continuous Growth
“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” – Kevin Stirtz
Product knowledge is an acquired skill. However, when you interview candidates to hire customer service agents, assess whether or not a potential agent is willing to learn and grow with your company. They will need to learn everything there is to know about your product or service. Make sure they have the capacity to do that.
Eugene Gold, CEO of WOW Payments, Inc, stresses the importance of product knowledge.
“Those who are successful are lifelong learners who gain mastery over even the smallest details of their offering. That’s because knowledge is one of the strongest tools at a leader’s disposal.” (Eugene Gold, Forbes)
Companies must provide all the resources needed for customer service agents to acquire all the knowledge they need. And they must also provide opportunities for agents to grow.
Statistics show that 76 percent of employees are looking for career growth opportunities. Additionally, 24% higher profit margins can be the result of companies who invest in training. And 40% of employees with poor training will leave the company within the first year. (HE Exchange)
We all seek growth. If managers want to motivate contact center agents, they must offer proper training and opportunities for growth. After all, stagnant work environments lead to burnout. Keeping employees engaged and growing in their positions will bring positive results.
3. Consider Both, In-House and Outsourcing Options
Some companies are able to hire customer service agents and serve all of their customers with in-house employees. Others, do not have enough funding or workforce to do so. And then, some companies have enough agents during work hours, but customers demand after-hour coverage, which is not always possible.
That is why outsourcing customer service, either full-time or after-hours might be a viable solution.
Outsourcing customer support does not have to be scary or expensive. In fact, hiring an experienced agency like HelpSquad is 50 times cheaper than hiring a full-time employee! The average salary of one full-time customer support agent (8 hours a day, 5 days a week) is $30k – $40k. You can have HelpSquad outsourced live chat support 24/7/365 for as little as $185/month. That means you could save up to $38,000 a year per agent and get full coverage!. Additionally, HelpSquad’s live chat service will supply the chat software for your website at no extra cost.
That’s one way to hire customer service agents that do not suck – hire us! 😊😊😊
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