The first step towards great customer service starts with the hiring process. Just because an applicant employeeOfMonthhas a great attitude and demeanor, it does not mean that they will always have that on the floor with your customer. You need to ask the right questions to understand their customer service skills.

  • Ask for a definition of customer service. Your definition should correspond with your company’s core values, so you should know the answer you are looking for before you start your interviews.
  • Ask your applicant how they would approach a customer service issue. Do not be afraid to use a real scenario from past experience. You can also role play with your applicant and have them work through how they would respond to a frantic or overbearing customer.  Look for clues in their response that may uncover unwanted tones, fear or attitude.
  • Make sure they understand and fit the job description you are hiring them to do. If you are hiring for a CSR that mainly deals with customers by phone, by all means do the interview by phone. Face to face contact is not the same when you cannot see who you are dealing with. You will be able to weed out applicants with an on the spot interview. This will also help you to preview their skills with an unexpected situation.
  • Hold more than one interview and take notes! A second interview may bring out a different person with a different approach. During interviews people are rarely themselves and tend to act in a way they believe you want them to. Holding a second interview will allow you to see them a little more for who they are. Your notes should stay consistent between the two interviews, if your notes show a completely different person, you will know you have an actor and not a genuine person. Taking notes about what you liked and did not like will also help in the final cuts of the decision making process.
  • Check your references and talk to the right person. You want to talk to the person that directly oversaw your applicant, not a friendly coworker. Ask questions about how the applicant dealt with customers and if they have a good report with everyone they came in contact with, including coworkers.
  • Too much experience can create a staff member that may or may not think they know more about what you want than you do. You should do your own training once you have hired an applicant.

The hiring process will take time and thought, just remember, you want your business to be a positive experience for your customers. That positive experience is what will keep them coming back for more.