Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shuddering at Should

I have spent a lot of time volunteering at a local job readiness program. It has been an eye opening experience. So many people start the program without even having a proper interview outfit. When I talk to them, a lot of the behavior that keeps them from getting a job is justified with a should.

  • It should not matter what I wear to an interview.
  • It should not matter what my attitude is like if I can do the job.
  • My speech should not matter.

The big bad truth of the matter is that those things matter and any good human resources professional or manager is looking at those behaviors and those very things will keep many people from landing a job ... especially a customer service job.
When putting together a strong customer service team, a manager is looking for people who carry themselves professionally, speak clearly, and who have a positive attitude. Anyone who lacks those three core attributes should not be working in customer service.

Professional demeanor: Looking people in the eye, showing up on time (or early), being prepared (with paper and pen), these are the signs employers are looking for. If someone cannot prepare for an interview, they won't be prepared on the job.

Speaking clearly: Imagine calling a doctor's office for test results or a bank to straighten out an issue and speaking with a representative who mumbled, talked too fast, and/or used a lot of slang. How confident would you be with that person on the other end of the line? Diction  makes a difference!

Positive Attitude: This is critical for a customer service representative. It goes beyond a smile. Does this person have a positive approach to problem solving. Drama is great on the stage or at the movies, but there is no room for drama on the job.

Being aware of what is essential helps on both ends. The interviewer knows what to look for and the interviewee knows what they need to do to land the job. Making the right decisions at this stage of the game is the difference between a good customer service team and one that will struggle. No amount of training can reboot a bad attitude or create a polished and professional demeanor.