Published: July 10, 2019 | Comments
In many organizations, the teams supporting customers typically recruit
more often than any other department. Continually hiring can be
challenging. The process of finding the right employees capable of doing
the job, coupled with being customer-centric, can be daunting. If you are
also looking for multilingual talent people with the flexibility to meet
unique shift requirements, it can feel like you are searching for unicorns.
In this article, you will find five tips to help improve recruitment
efforts searching for customer-focused superstars, combined with another
five suggestions to assist with retaining them as well. Armed with these
ten tips, I hope you will see greater success finding and keeping those
hard-to-find customer-centric employees.
Five Tips to Boost Your Recruitment Strategy
“Post and Pray”
̶ Far too often organizations and talent acquisition teams rely exclusively
on listing job postings online, either on their corporate careers page or
elsewhere, hoping and praying that the best candidate will miraculously
apply. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. What most hiring
managers are left with is choosing between the best of who has applied, not
necessarily the best person for the opportunity.
̶ Embrace other methods of recruiting or sharing open roles on your team
that you are looking to fill. Try leveraging videos and social media to
raise awareness while highlighting your culture. Perhaps members of the
support team or the leader would be willing to do a short video explaining
and showing the role in action.
Customers have high expectations; you should too
̶ To ensure that organizations continue to elevate the customer experience,
raising and maintaining high standards for what you expect and look for in
employees is essential. Gone should be the days of just finding a body that
fills a seat. Ask any hiring manager who has ever compromised or went
against their gut reaction, adding someone they felt might not be a fit,
and they will most likely tell you they regret their decision.
̶ The alternative is to hire for potential and look for superstars
exclusively. If you can afford it, be picky. Don’t settle for mediocre
employees. Those candidates who check some of the boxes might not have the
right attitude or customer-focus needed. Be on the lookout for potential
leaders who one day might be the next Team Lead or Supervisor also. Even if
they ultimately don’t go down those paths, hiring people you feel
demonstrate potential beyond the role you are hiring for will be hungrier
to give their all when supporting customers.
Join Chris this October 28-30 at ICMI Contact Center Connections. He'll be speaking in session 303: How to Have Success With Knocking Down Walls and Silos.
Prioritize searching for two fundamental competencies: the ability to
make it easy and continuous improvement mindset
̶ Customers want and expect an effortless service experience. Hire
employees who demonstrate the ability to make the complex seem easy. Since
communication is a vital part of the service experience, pay close
attention to how a candidate answers questions in an interview. Can you
easily follow along with the answers given by the candidate, or is it
difficult to understand and comprehend? If so, how would your customers
respond to this person? Always hire passionate candidates who can
articulate what they did easily.
̶ At its core, continuous improvement is about incrementally getting
better. Candidates who demonstrate a desire to grow continuously tend to be
the most adaptable and capable. Ask candidates some of the following
questions to reveal their ability to make an experience easier or whether
they have a continuous improvement mindset:
“Tell me about a project, idea, or initiative that you brought forward
and implemented that improved the performance of yourself, the team, or
the customer experience.”
“Share a situation where you have made a service experience better
through simplifying processes or being more efficient.”
“Tell me about a time when you have made a customer’s experience
Hire your customers (or people like them)
̶ Depending on the type of service you provide, and the industry you
support, strive to hire people like your customers. For example, if you are
providing support to highly technical people, ensure that the team doing so
is also technical. This will improve your agent’s ability to build trust
and rapport increasing customer satisfaction while decreasing how long may
be required for some training. If your organization sells services or
products that your employees are also fans of, they will be more passionate
about providing support to customers too.
Stick to the Airport Rule
̶ When evaluating whether you should hire a candidate, ask yourself the
following question. If you were held at the airport on an 8-hour delay with
this person, would you want to do that? If the answer is a no, then don’t
hire them. If you couldn’t imagine yourself stuck with them, then why would
you want your customer to be supported by them?
Five Tips to Enhance Your Retainment Strategy
Leadership support and employee experience
̶ Leaders need to ensure that they provide the right level of support,
that individuals want and need. From providing the basics like fair wages
and flexible hours to ongoing training and coaching, employees supporting
customers need to feel appreciated and valued.
̶ Furthermore, leaders need to prioritize and recognize the hard work and
efforts of those supporting customers consistently. Pizza parties and
cupcakes don’t retain superstar customer-centric employees. A culture of
unique, personalized employee experiences that catch people that are doing
things right helps.
Develop the bench
̶ Why do professional athletes practice, despite some of them being the
best in the world at what they do? They do so because they understand the
value of training to help them consistently deliver results. Why then do so
many organizations neglect investing in ongoing professional development
and training for their customer service teams, beyond new hire training?
Highly talented, customer-centric employees want to get better and improve,
not only for themselves but also for the customers. Develop your people and
increase the bench strength of your talent.
Build internal career paths
̶ In many organizations, customer service and support teams, are often
viewed as the entry-level roles in the business. Many in these positions
desire to get off the phones and move into other roles due to a perceived
lack of career path options. If you want to retain many of your employees,
offer internal career paths based on increasing one’s proficiency and
understanding of supporting the customer. The possibility of having the
word “Senior” added to one’s title can make a world of difference in terms
of motivation. It's essential for people to feel like the organizations
appreciate the added value they have brought to the business, provided they
met all the criteria need for such a promotion.
Tie performance and pay together
̶ While this might not be possible in all organizations, tying performance
and pay together, centered around customer satisfaction (CSAT) or other
metrics can do wonders too. Offering a bonus plan that incentivizes
everyone to provide the best possible customer experience is part
retainment strategy and part addressing linking metrics with purpose. To be
most successful with linking CSAT to pay, structure the bonus plan to be
half tied to individual scores and half connected to a shared team score.
Doing so will help create shared accountability for delivering an
exceptional experience more consistently.
Truly represent the voice of the customer in driving continuous
̶ A crucial part of motivation for employees is feeling like their work
serves a greater purpose. Taking interactions for the sake of taking
interactions can be draining. Leveraging and doing something with customer
feedback improves the strategic value of the contact center and the roles
of all employees, though. Offer project work opportunities for highly
customer-centric employees to drive continuous improvement efforts using
̶ Let employees genuinely represent the voice of the customer by asking
them how to improve both products, services, and processes. As the
employees connected closest to the customer, they will have the best
insights to drive and be part of changing the customer experience for the
better. Celebrate any improvements made, helping to improve their
connection to the role, team, and customer.
Recruiting and retaining highly customer-centric employees is a lot of hard
work, but when done effectively, it can be highly rewarding. Some days it
may seem like you are chasing unicorns, but by implementing even a fraction
of the tips provided, it will help take your customer support to the next
level. With higher standards in place, coupled with an excellent retainment
strategy, you might even have to recruit and train less.