How to find and hire a customer service rep

Written by on October 17, 2018

Every customer happiness story begins with a great customer service rep. The real trouble for most businesses isn’t manufacturing moments of delight like free shipping and returns for a patient or delivering diet specific groceries during a snowstorm but finding the customer service representatives who look to create these moments for customers.

Lucky for you, we happen to have some expertise on this front and we know a few other people who’ve worked at this problem long enough to have some advice to share. In this article, I’ll cover how to find and hire great customer service reps who’ll put you on the customer happiness map as well.

Ready? Let’s do this!

Creating a great job description

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: Great candidate experiences begin the minute a candidate finds you aka the job description.

A good job description goes a long way in conveying employer brand to a candidate. When a job description is succinct, persuasive, and error-free, it tells the candidate that the company not just understands the role but will do everything to help them succeed in said role.

Here’s a checklist for a great job description:

  • Is your job description comprehensive? Have you properly explained the role? SHRM’s “how to write a job description” article has a fantastic list of requirements.
  • Have you properly formatted your job description? Dividing your job description into a “requirements”, “responsibilities” and “expectations” sections will help candidates understand the role fully.
  • Have you included information about the company, mission, values and the team’s culture for full context? When candidates come across the job in a job aggregator, they won’t be able to use the rest of your website as a reference.
  • Is your job description neutral and grammatically correct? Textio can help you with the former and Grammarly with the latter.

Here’s a sample job description that you can build on.

Finding customer service reps

Customer service reps, much like most other professionals, tend to live on the Internet so when you’re looking for customer service reps, the only question you need to ask yourself is: are you looking for someone who’s looking for a job?

If yes, we’d recommend you post your job opening to three kinds of places:

  • A general job board like Indeed, Monster etc. Consider this to be a catch-all for even people looking to switch. An amateur list: Adzuna, Glassdoor, Linkedin, Indeed, Angellist, Craigslist, Monster, Seek, Dice.
  • Support specific job board like SupportDriven’s job board or ‘We work remotely’
  • Support communities like SupportDriven where support reps hang out and talk shop.

If you’re looking for people who might not be necessarily looking for a job, you should use LinkedIn search or support communities to find suitable people for the position and approach them with a proposition.

Tip: You might even consider reaching out to customer service influencers like Chase Clemons or Carolyn Kopprasch to get them to give your job listing a shout out on their social media channels. This way, interested customer service reps can reach out to you.

Get the whole team involved in the search

Hiring shouldn’t be a department, it should be a part of everyone’s job. When the whole team gets involved in the search, you’ll be able to attract a wide range of diverse candidates who can help you improve the team’s empathy factor.

This extends beyond just sending out a note asking everyone to share the listing on their social channels. Involve the team in the screening and interviewing process as well to make sure that all your blind spots are covered and you find someone who becomes a valuable addition to the whole team.

Interviewing customer service reps

Now that you have your list of candidates handy, it’s time to figure out who’s the best fit for you. Unfortunately, customer service is one of those fields where you can’t have someone send in samples of their work (“Here’s an issue a customer raised and here’s a transcript of my phone conversation”) so you’ll have to get a little creative with your interviews.

First up, we’d recommend you make a list of what you’re looking for in a customer service rep. The list of qualities might vary from support manager to support manager but nearly every support agrees on the following: a support rep has to be empathetic, detail-oriented, a good communicator (just the ability to clearly and concisely convey information) and a natural culture fit.

So…no pressure in figuring out how to ask the right questions so you can ascertain if they’re the right fit. Luckily, we have some advice from someone who’s been hiring customer service reps for a little over 20 years.

When Girish Mathrubootham, the CEO of Freshdesk, interviews potential support reps, he asks them to teach him something. Anything. This gives him a good idea of how empathetic they are and how well they’re able to slip into someone else’s shoes. When he asks them to teach him something, he looks to see if:

  • they have tried to find out how much he knows before they start? Brownie points if they explain it so well that pre-requisite knowledge isn’t necessary.
  • they’re trying to make the explanation as simple as possible. If they assume a condescending tone, he marks them down.
  • they actually know what they’re talking about. A whiff of BS and he’ll know.

He follows this question with a simple exercise that usually helps him figure out if the candidate is a good role fit. He comes up with a sample support scenario – something simple like an airline reservation gone wrong or a Netflix bug – and asks them to put themselves in the support rep’s shoes and write an email to the customer. This tells him three things: one, their proficiency in the Queen’s tongue, two, how well they can communicate their intentions and three, their attention to detail, a fact that can be gleaned from the way they present the solution.

Is their solution concise and precise? Are they using all tools at their disposal – screenshots, screencasts etc. to explain the solution. There’s a fine line between vague and overtly-detailed – the candidate should have a knack for making sure a layman can understand the fix at the end of the email.

Most support reps favor open-ended questions to determine culture fit – it not only works as an icebreaker but it also helps the manager figure out how well the candidate and their interests will fit in with the existing team.

Making the decision

It can be really difficult to make a decision about who you should hire to be your newest customer service representative and the face of the company. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • How passionate are they about customer service?
  • Does empathizing come easily/naturally to them?
  • Are they serious about joining your team?
  • Will they fill in the skill gap in your team?
  • How quickly will they get started on the job?
  • Will you be able to help them in their career path?
  • Will they be a good cultural fit?

Just remember that if you have to convince yourself to hire them, then don’t hire them. You should only hire people who you’re excited about and vice versa.

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