Want Great Customer Service? Hire Smart

Great customer service can turn your customers into your sales force.

How many times have you shared with a friend a great service experience? How about a bad one? I bet you can think of at least a couple of examples for each. The question is: which side of those conversations do you want your business to pop up in?

Hiring for Great Service

We all know the difference between average customer service and great customer service. Average service takes up time; Great service is fast. Average service sugarcoats the issue; Great service gives you the real story. Average service fixes the problem; Great service fixes the problem, and anticipates other issues that may come up. But how do we take customer service in our own companies from average to great?

The answer isn’t a magic bullet checklist, a three-step process, a motivational speech, or a few extra hours of training. Great service starts before that – it starts when you hire your first customer service rep.

When you put an employee in front of your customers, you have to understand the following basic principle: To your customers, that employee represents your entire company. Don’t assume you can train just anyone to make your customers happy – you can’t. Hiring employees that follow a customer service checklist, or abide by “the process,” is just a start.

Customer-Centric Culture

Customer service is a business philosophy and a culture, not just another department in your company. I like to call this idea customer-centricity. But to truly deliver great service, you have to hire employees who will buy into both the philosophy and the culture.

The philosophy aspect is simple: each business decision you make, from hiring to end-user service, should reflect what’s best for the customer experience. I know what you must be thinking: “Easier said than done.” And that’s true. But you can start by thinking about each customer touch point, and how it looks and feels from the customer’s perspective.

The philosophy should be supported with a customer-centric culture. A customer-centric culture stems from employees that truly care about the customer. As I said, it’s not enough to follow the established processes that can solve the issue. The employees who buy into the philosophy of empathy for the customer, of creating a positive experience, understand what it means to go above and beyond what is required. Employees who simply follow the checklist don’t understand.

Evaluating Potential Employees

When I hire employees at my company, I take the time to carefully check out whether they “get it” – whether they can buy into the company’s mission and truly care about the customer. If they follow the instructions and complete the checklist, that’s a start. But if they fail to think outside the box – see related issues, suggest workarounds, anticipate upcoming problems, etc. – then that’s a red flag. They haven’t bought in – they don’t get it. And if they don’t get it – no matter how fast, or talented, or otherwise desirable they may be as an employee – I don’t let them talk to my customers. Because I know they won’t go above and beyond for my customers.

It’s critical to hire employees who will buy into the customer-centric philosophy with you. Otherwise, you’ll be headed for average – or worse, underwhelming – service. Trust me, your customers will notice.

About the Author
John-Paul Narowski is a customer service thought leader and the founder of karmaCRM – a clean, easy to use customer relationship manager that will help you keep all your sales leads and customer communications neat and tidy. Find out more about JP and karmaCRM at http://www.karmacrm.com.

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