How to Assess and Hire Customer Service Agents?
Published on January 6th, 2023
More than 2.8 million people are employed as customer service agents in the US and the number is expected to grow by 5% by 2026, as reported by the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics.
While it sounds nice and appealing, in theory, the employee turnover rate for customer service agents is between 30-40%, the highest among any sector.
It then becomes a daunting task for the recruiters to hire employees who will not leave the organization with minor inconveniences but work towards strengthening your organization.
Here is a guide on how to assess and hire stellar customer service agents for your organization.
Who are Customer Service Agents?
Customer service agents are employees who interact with customers on behalf of a company or organization. They provide information, assistance, and support to customers via phone, email, live chat, or in person.
Their main goal is to resolve customer issues and complaints and to ensure customer satisfaction. They may also assist customers with orders, returns, and exchanges, and answer questions about products or services.
In general, customer service agents are responsible for representing the company to customers and fostering positive relationships with them. They are often the first point of contact for customers, and their interactions can greatly impact a customer's perception of a company.
Importance of Customer Service Agents
Customer service agents are the face and first point of contact for a company. Customers form their opinions based on the type of services they receive from customer care.
For example, if you ordered a certain product from Amazon and it is delivered in a damaged form, you are bound to turn to the customer service of the organization and if you get an agent who is soft and polite and listens to your problems, you will be a happy customer and recommend Amazon to your friends and family.
However, the tables would have turned if the agent was rude and did not listen to your query, you will probably never make a purchase from Amazon again and in turn, they will lose a valuable customer.
You must have a good idea by now about the importance of customer service agents. Here are a few pointers reiterating the same.
- They represent the company: Customer service agents are often the first point of contact for customers. They are responsible for representing the company to customers and fostering positive relationships with them. A positive experience with a customer service agent can greatly impact a customer's perception of a company.
- They help resolve issues: Customer service agents work to resolve customer complaints and issues in a timely and professional manner. They listen to the customer's concerns, investigate the issue, and find a solution that satisfies the customer. This helps to build trust and loyalty with customers.
- They provide information: Customer service agents provide customers with accurate and timely information about products or services. They answer questions, provide guidance, and help customers make informed decisions.
- They improve customer satisfaction: Customer service agents work to ensure customer satisfaction by going above and beyond to help customers. They build trust and loyalty with customers by showing that the company cares about their needs and concerns.
- They help generate revenue: Happy customers are more likely to return and make repeat purchases, which can help to generate revenue for the company.
- They can help identify problems and opportunities: Customer service agents are on the front line of customer interactions. They can provide valuable insights into customer needs and preferences, as well as identify problems or opportunities for improvement within the company.
- They can be the voice of the customer: They can represent the voice of the customer within the company and help ensure that the company's actions align with the customer's needs and expectations.
Day-to-Day Task for Customer Service Agents
The specific duties of a customer service agent can vary depending on the industry and the company, but in general, their job entails:
- Answering customer inquiries: Customer service agents respond to customer questions and concerns via phone, email, live chat, or in person. They provide accurate and timely information and work to resolve any issues or complaints.
- Handling customer complaints: Customer service agents work to resolve customer complaints in a timely and professional manner. They listen to the customer's concerns, investigate the issue, and find a solution that satisfies the customer.
- Assisting with orders and returns: Customer service agents may assist customers with placing orders, tracking orders, and processing returns and exchanges. They ensure that customer orders are fulfilled correctly and on time.
- Providing product or service information: Customer service agents answer questions about products or services and provide information about warranties, guarantees, and other customer service policies.
- Following up with customers: Customer service agents may follow up with customers to ensure that their concerns have been resolved and to gather feedback about their experience.
- Keeping accurate records: Customer service agents keep accurate records of customer interactions and transactions. They may use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track customer interactions and store customer information.
- Continuously Improving: Customer service agents' job also includes continuously improving themselves by keeping themselves updated with new products, company policies and procedures, and also with new technologies.
Skills to Look for
More than technical skills, a good customer service agent should know how to win over customers, meaning they should have a tight hold of soft skills. Because honestly, a customer service agent has to deal with hundreds of customers who are either angry or irritated. No one calls happily to a customer care service to share positive feedback, it is always for complaints or queries.
While technical skills are also important, soft skills take a driver's seat in this job role and we have listed the top ones that you (as a recruiter) should look for in your candidate.
1. Empathetic Mindset
The single most important customer service skill is empathy.
Because it's essential for an employee to understand what happiness and success mean to your clients if you want them to help your business succeed.
And if you want an employee to help your customers out of a jam, it’s crucial for that employee to understand exactly how being in that jam is making the customer feel.
To do that, they must step into the customer’s shoes.
More than a virtue, patience is a must-have skill for customer agent services.
They have to deal with angry customers, customers who want extra attention, customers who are looking to solve a problem, and similar challenging situations.
The worst an employee can do is lose their cool in such a scenario and make the customer even angrier.
You as a business do not want such angry customers. Patience in the customer service agent to deal with the customer politely and calmly is a top skill you should look for.
3. Decision Making
It is often seen in customer service where the customers ask for impractical requests.
An agent should be alert enough and should have the presence of mind to decide what is correct in that situation and make a decision accordingly.
Because the customer is in a hurry always and will get furious if the agent takes a long time.
4. Technical Ability
In addition to all these communication and interpersonal skills, technical skills are also an important aspect of customer service.
An ideal candidate should be adept with the technologies that are required for troubleshooting the customer’s queries and problems.
You can assess these skills using pre-employment assessments which takes us to the next section..
How to Assess Customer Service Agents?
1. Use Pre-employment Assessment
Use HireQuotient’s Customer Service Representative Test to gauge your candidate for the job role.
Our assessment is an AI-based pre-hire test for recruiters to assess an applicant's ability to understand customer complaints, and questions, and provide customers with solutions about products and services.
It also assesses a candidate's capability to be patient, empathetic, and passionately communicative toward customers.
Additionally, it also gives you an analysis of how all the candidates performed in the assessment to give you an overview and make your decision easier.
2. Ask the Right Questions
Interviewing the potential candidate is a key step in assessing the character and knowledge of the person. Ask these questions to gain an understanding of your applicant.
- Can you tell me about a time when you experienced great customer service?
- How have you dealt with frustrated callers?
- What do you know about our product or service?
- What do you do when you don’t know how to help a customer?
- Would you describe yourself as a people person?
- Tell me about a time when you turned an unhappy customer into a delighted customer.
- What customer service tools do you have experience with?
- What tactics do you use to calm upset customers?
- Describe a mistake you made handling a customer service problem and how you would handle it now.
- How would you handle a customer you know is wrong?
Have the customer service agent engage in role-playing exercises to simulate real-life customer interactions and evaluate their ability to handle various types of situations.
Build scenarios with different types of customers and make the candidate take the call and monitor how they are handling them and pacifying them.
Tips to Hire Customer Service Agents
1. Write an Exceptionally Superior Job Description
In addition to your requirements and qualifications of the candidate, there are two other things that will make your JD stand out among the crowd.
- Choose attractive words: Include heavy, creative unique words in your job description which will surely attract the best candidates. For example, instead of the plain–old–boring ‘customer service agent’ job title, you could use something more exciting like Support Coach, Customer Champion, Happiness Hero, etc. This inculcates a feeling of supremacy in the candidate’s mind and they will want to work at your organization.
- Showcase your company culture: Include links to your website that showcases your culture and how you treat your employees. Also, add all the perks and benefits you offer to your employees to create a buzz about your company and the job role.
2. Consider Aptitude Tests
Aptitude tests for customer service agents can give you insight into the areas such as communication, problem-solving, and interpersonal relations. These tests may also include multiple-choice questions, situational judgment exercises, and role-playing scenarios.
This will give you a sketch of the overall personality of the candidate and parse them out from total dud candidates.
3. Use Unique Candidate Sourcing Channels
Candidates are not going to buzz around your building just because you have an opening. You need to announce your opening through different channels and attract candidates to you. Here are a few tips for the same:
- Job Boards: Because they feature open positions from throughout the internet, job boards are an excellent place to find new hires. Find niche job boards to advertise your customer service opportunities, and think about focusing on particular nations or regions.
- Social Media: Social media is a great platform to connect with prospective candidates. Reach out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks to find a whole new set of candidates.
- Employee Referral Program: Put your employees to work and ask them to refer candidates from their network who might be a good fit for the position. In return, you can pay them incentives in the form of bonuses, gift coupons, or paid vacations.
- Recruitment Agencies: You can work with a recruitment agency if you don't know where to begin or don't have the time to find customer service agents on your own. Recruitment firms are experts at locating and vetting people for particular positions, so they can assist you in finding the greatest match for your business.
Are you Ready to Hire?
Hiring can be a difficult task, as it involves finding the right candidate who not only possesses the necessary skills and experience, but also aligns with the company's culture, values, and goals.
It requires a lot of effort and resources to attract, screen, and evaluate potential candidates, and there is always a risk that the chosen candidate may not be the best fit for the role or the company. It also requires attention to detail and good judgment, as well as the ability to assess candidates not only by their qualifications, but also by their soft skills, work ethic, and cultural fit.
Make use of pre-employment assessments to clear your judgment and hire not only the best person but also the right person.
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Radhika Sarraf is a content specialist and a woman of many passions who currently works at HireQuotient, a leading recruitment SaaS company. She is a versatile writer with experience in creating compelling articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing collaterals.
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