Inside Retail Services News

Hiring for customer service positions

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Building your team

Building a team with the right people takes more than posting a position on job posting websites. It starts with the team itself. Even before the job description is written, gain insight by bringing the team together to discuss what skills and experience the new hire would need. This discussion will help to guide the process of writing a complete job description complete with your must-haves and hope-they-haves. Your team should also help develop a list of essential personality traits for the ideal applicant to be a good fit.

Personality comes into play when it comes to the team itself. Not so much to find someone who is just like us, but someone who would bring balance and diversity to complement one another in the company.

When hiring for a customer service position, specific personality traits are crucial to performing the job well, not just in interacting with customers but also as members of the team

Consider testing your current team member’s personality traits to help to identify the traits common to those most successful in their role. Conversely, take note of undesirable traits common amongst your most-challenged employees to help in your screening process. For customer service positions, you will typically need to focus on applicants whose personality traits include:

  • Patience
  • Communication skills, both verbally and in writing
  • Empathy
  • Team player/collaborator, yet able to work independently
  • Multi-tasker
  • Self-awareness (can tell stories from their past and see their contribution, good and bad)
  • Creativity (creativity equates to problem-solving skills)
  • Positive attitude (“glass-half-full vs. half-empty”)
  • Skilled conflict manager                              

Searching for applicants

Job posts on employment platforms should begin with an “about us” section that briefly tells the company’s story, mission, core values, and atmosphere. Adding how you address social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion will help because 76% of jobseekers prefer to work in a place with these principles. A summary of included benefits, work shift flexibility, remote work options, and salary range should also be included. Quality applicants often disregard job posts without compensation information.

Posting an opening and waiting for applicants to come to you can be a tedious and often overwhelming process, depending on the number of applications received. In addition to posting the job on employment sites, consider a more direct and proactive approach.

Start by asking friends and trusted contacts in your industry for referrals. Often the best addition to your team is someone who isn’t currently looking to make a change in their current employment. Ask the referrer why they believe the potential hire would be a good fit for the position. If you think the recommended candidate may be a good fit, ask the referrer to help generate a warm referral by arranging a phone call.

Reviewing applicants

Customer service positions can make or break a company, and the most important skill is communication. The challenge of the initial resume sifting process is interpreting a resume, primarily full of past job details and bulleted triumphs and past successes. It doesn’t tell the story, which can best be provided in a cover letter. In your job application instructions, tell potential applicants what steps are required to apply for the position. If you require a cover letter and an applicant doesn’t include one along with their resume, that shows their lack of attention to instructions and detail. Be specific in your request. Perhaps ask the applicant to explain how their previous jobs have specifically prepared them for your company and the position or briefly explain how they would respond to a customer service scenario. As an alternate option, you could ask the applicant to make a “selfie video” answering a few specific questions and submit it along with their resume.

As you review applications, do so with a JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) lens, considering how their uniqueness could bring new insights and perspectives to your team.

Communication in the hiring process has changed over the years, and your communication avenues need to change. Take advantage of multiple communication channels necessary to fit your situation, including email, video conferencing, telephone, and in-person if possible.

Consider scheduling a telephone call as the first phase of your interview process. Some applicants may have relied on texting so heavily they feel uncomfortable talking on the phone. If the job responsibilities include communicating with customers by telephone, a conversation by phone will help in your evaluation of potential employees.

Using video conference calls may be preferred as it enables observation of non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language by the interviewee when responding to your questions.

There is no guaranteed method of hiring the perfect employee. There are no perfect employees, but determining the best fit for your team is attainable when approached with these tips in mind.

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