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Hiring Customer Service Personnel

March 22, 2013

Being a customer service representative is not in everyone’s DNA.  Some people simply are not in the personal and professional mental space to serve customers.  Some are interpersonally incompetent.  Others lack emotional awareness.  Still others are working out personal issues that block professional balance.  You want to avoid hiring these people–for the good of everyone, including them.  They are not “right for the job” and my experience has been that professional opportunities to learn (“Let’s put them through a customer service training class”) will not budge them into that space.

While working with numerous organizations over the years, I’ve observed that the following competencies are often overlooked or under-emphasized when organizations think about what to look for when selecting and developing their service personnel:

  • Self-confidence – positive self-esteem, notable ability
  • Initiative – being proactive, self-motivated
  • Assertiveness – expressing opinion without being rude
  • Coping Skill – with stress and unruly customers or peers
  • Adaptability/Flexibility – the ability to handle change
  • Oral Communication Skill as a Rapport-builder – connecting with others
  • Problem Solving Ability – diagnose causes of problems, formulate alternative solutions
  • Listening Skill – actively listen to comprehend and establish rapport
  • Self-control – the ability to keep your head when all about you is out of control

A personal and professional maturity is required to serve customers well. That’s why we’ve built these competencies into our customer service training programs and tested their effectiveness over the years.  But, there will be the occasional person who doesn’t have the DNA for it.  Being alert to this fact allows service managers to do what’s best for the organization and an unsuitable person: help them find a better career match outside the service organization.

What experiences have you had with service personnel who just didn’t have it in their DNA?

  1. I agree! We can hire and train and train and train and fire and re-hire and train and train and train…and still not find a good customer service team member. These are great qualities for a customer service team member, but I think the most important is heart. The team member has to possess empathy and care for the people they are serving.

  2. Thanks, Justin, for your comment. Absolutely! The professional ability to sincerely care (“heart”) is that quality of professional and personal life, which invites in others everything from appreciation to re-gaining of their own balance to healing. The qualities in this post are meant to “flesh” out what behaviors are representative of “heart.” All the best in your opportunities to serve!

  3. Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely
    enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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