Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Squirrel Logic

You can train a turkey to climb a tree, but you might be better off hiring a squirrel. – Anonymous

As a corporate trainer for almost two decades now, I can safely say that all the training in the world won’t help a bad hire. It’s no coincidence that the people who scoff at me and roll their eyes during a training class are often the ones with the longest call times and the most complaints.

I’ve been asked to teach classes on critical thinking and problem-solving but the real problem is the customer service representative. A lazy representative who has no desire to help the customer, a representative with a bad attitude who withholds her help because she doesn’t like the customer, a representative who sees a potential problem but glosses over it so someone else can handle it, will not be helped with a class.

If a team of customer-centric CSRs is your goal, start by hiring good customer service representatives. In today’s economy a lot of people just want a job and any job will do. However, you want to make sure you are hiring the people who would be best in your environment. Here are some things you should be looking for.

Enthusiasm/Energy: You want someone who is upbeat and who truly is excited about the possibility of working at your company. If someone can’t muster any enthusiasm at a job interview, they won’t be able to muster on the phone or on the sales floor.

Real-Life Scenarios: Think of several situations you’ve encountered with your CSRs and pose those situations to your interviewees to see how they would handle the actual problems they’ll encounter on the job. If you ask for a generic example of their problem-solving skills, a good interviewee will have an answer prepared. If you give them one of your scenarios they’ll have to think on their feet and use some real problem solving skills to answer your targeted questions. Give several of these scenarios.

Look and Listen: Look for body language. Are they making eye contact? Are they interested in what you have to say? Do they look like they want to be there? Listen for the voice. Are they pronouncing their words properly? Do they have a pleasing voice and demeanor? Would you want to engage this person in a conversation or listen to what they have to say?

Enlist Some Help: Most people know they should be nice to the interviewer but what about the receptionist? In a former position, our HR associate would routinely ask the receptionist what her impression of the interviewee was. Were they personable or rude? Were they pleasant or stand-offish? Their behavior with the reception was more of a true gage of who this person really was.

A good customer service team begins with strong customer service hires.