The way customers engage and interact with businesses has changed dramatically.
Although it's common sense that positive customer experiences are important for business success, the need for more thoughtful customer service has skyrocketed recently.
According to Salesforce, empathy, personalization, and convenience have characterized customer relationships in recent years. Gen Z especially is more concerned with developing relationships with brands than making purchases. Salesforce's research also says that 90% of customers believe a company's response to a crisis reflects its overall reliability as a brand. Another 86% believe the role of businesses in society is evolving. Finally, 53% of customers have an emotional connection to the brands they buy from the most frequently.
These attitude changes have put new pressure on businesses when finding the best service employees. Here’s how pre-employment customer service tests can help you be more proactive when filling these roles.
In this article, we'll cover:
- What Do Customer Service or Support Representatives Do
- When to Hire for Customer Service
- Why is Customer Service Important?
- Customer Service Skills to Look For
- How Customer Service Tests Can Help
What Do Customer Service or Support Representatives Do?
One key factor that distinguishes thriving businesses from failing ones is how they face and address potential problems. Successful businesses tend to take a more proactive approach and tackle issues as they happen, working hard to ensure customers stay happy. Because customer service teams are the first contact point between a business and its clients, they represent a crucial link for customer retention and business growth. It makes business sense that the quality of customer service has a direct impact on profitability.
Customer service representatives handle a variety of tasks daily. They are primarily in charge of helping customers with complaints and queries. They also provide product and service information, such as pricing, specifications, and available options. They take orders, handle returns and may also demonstrate ways of using products or services. Sometimes, customer service reps can even be a part of the sales team, including emailing and making outbound calls.
When to Hire For Customer Service
There are no straightforward rules as to when you should add new customer service representatives. It all boils down to a few crucial factors, including the amount of time pressure currently put on your existing team.
Customer service positions are often designed for 24/7 response time for questions and issues. Businesses must, however, be cautious not to lose employees as a result of job fatigue and stress. A lower stress level for the customer service team will result in more motivation to provide excellent service to all customers.
Customer satisfaction, incoming support volume, time to first response, and resolution time are other key metrics. These data points must be closely watched to ensure that they don’t stray too far from their expected values. Customer service managers may want to consider hiring new representatives if these metrics begin to slide.
Forecasting models can also help determine when more service reps should be added to the team. This especially holds true for smaller companies with a fast growing customer base. A basic spreadsheet model may look at the number of support queries per client, the number of discussions per rep per day, and the cost per rep hour. Relying on this data and accounting for business growth projections will clarify the picture when you need more staff.
Why is Customer Service Important?
In our previous article “How to Choose the Right Candidate with a Customer Service Test”, we talked about the opportunities that come from good customer service. Its value shows in customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and an increased bottom line. Satisfied customers will, for example, spread the good word through social media and/or online reviews.
Poor customer service can also have a negative financial impact. It's been proven that investing in good customer service teams, instead of relying solely on the quality of the product to keep up a good reputation, is far less expensive in the long run. Disregarding the value of customer experience can only lead to negative outcomes: client loss, low corporate morale, a damaged reputation, and increased price sensitivity.
On the positive side, satisfied clients are much more likely to return to the same company when they require the same product or service. Nurturing customer loyalty, in turn, helps build a more positive brand image and special incentives, such as loyalty programs, can help with that goal.
Finally, research has shown that happy customers are generally prepared to pay more for a product. Providing they have a strong reputation, companies can charge higher rates and enjoy the resulting profits.
Finding the Top Talent: Customer Service Skills To Look For
Providing exceptional customer service is the secret recipe for success in any industry, regardless of business type. Hiring people who are ambitious and driven to provide helpful advice is the first step toward building a reputation for service.
Still, no specific set of job experiences or education makes a candidate qualified for a customer service position. Hiring managers should instead be focusing on skill sets that can't always be taught.
So what are the ideal characteristics of a good customer service representative? In short, look for candidates who thrive in one-on-one interactions. Find applicants who value community over individualism. They'd also need to be able to think on their feet and be good at explaining how things work.
When assessing job applicants, HR should prioritize some of these skills:
1) Problem-solving skills
Customers do not always self-diagnose their issues correctly, so support reps need to know how to take initiative and work with them to find a solution.
Customers who contact support are frequently frustrated. Treating them with respect, as well as showing patience during a challenging troubleshooting process, can go a long way.
The ability to fully focus on the specific question or problem received is vital when providing stellar customer service. Representatives should not only pay attention to consumers' experiences, but also be able to provide mindful feedback.
4) Emotional intelligence
A great customer service representative should be able to relate to anyone. Sometimes, though, trouble can arise with frustrated customers. Instead of taking things personally, they should intuitively understand where the other person is coming from and easily navigate difficult conversations.
5) Clear communication skills
Miscommunications can lead to disappointment and frustration. The best customer service representatives are masters of simple and effective dialogue, solving problems quickly while leaving nothing to doubt.
6) Writing skills
Writing well entails getting as close to reality as words will allow. With much of customer support now happening via email and chat, being a good writer (and a fast typer) is the most undervalued skill to look for.
7) Creativity and resourcefulness
Finding imaginative ways to go the extra mile — and having the willingness to do so in the first place — is just as crucial as solving the problem.
How to Evaluate Your Applicants’ Customer Service Skills
Evaluating your customer service applicants’ abilities can be challenging. Relying solely on resumes, for example, isn't a very effective strategy anymore. There is no simple way to determine whether an employee working as a customer service representative has the necessary skills prior to being hired.
But pre-employment tests have shown to be quite efficient and effective because they provide unbiased and objective data that predicts job performance. These assessments can cover both soft and hard skills including troubleshooting, decision-making, communication clarity, comprehension, and others.
How Customer Service Tests Can Help
In “How to Choose The Right Candidate When Hiring for a Customer Service Role”, we also talked about factors that managers should consider when choosing the type of pre-employment tests. While there are a number of pre-employment tests available, the test that will ultimately be used depends solely on the needs of the role that needs to be filled.
These tests measure desirable customer service behavioral traits and statistically compare them with other candidates who have taken the test. Customer service aptitude tests are aligned with EEOC guidelines, which is helpful in assessing and hiring diverse teams while avoiding hiring bias. The main advantage of using customer service aptitude tests is that hiring managers can independently screen for traits such as conscientiousness, service orientation, ability to maintain composure, self-management, flexibility, and the ability to work well with others.
Also, because customer service representatives typically work in large groups, it may be helpful to include a supervisor aptitude test for future potential team leads. Other skills that can be easily assessed with the help of pre-employment tests are dependability, helpful disposition, self-confidence, supervision, and candor.
Customer service tests can also be used when hiring for many roles in various industries, such as IT, tourism, retail, e-commerce, finance and banking, healthcare and medical.
- Customer Service Representative
- Customer Service Executive
- Customer Service Associate
- Customer Service Consultant
- Customer Service Analyst
- Customer Service Specialist
While every team within a company should be working hard to provide an excellent customer experience, customer service representatives are really on the front lines. Their daily tasks, ensuring everyone's pre- and post-purchase experiences are as positive as possible, can sometimes be considered a thankless job. But it's perhaps the most vital job of all. After all, they have unique insight into both the positive and negative parts of consumers' experiences. This is precisely because customer service reps must be well-equipped to handle any situation.
Customer service representatives who are calm and composed, driven to help people in need, and creative enough to actually do it, can enrich and enhance customer experience. Rather than relying on interviews, which can be unreliable predictors of future job performance, hiring managers should invest in a validated customer service aptitude test to identify the character traits for a customer service representative.
EmployTest offers a variety of pre-employment tests to help businesses properly assess candidates for these important skills. With a variety of tests to choose from, any business that cares about improving their bottom line, reducing customer churn, and increasing customer satisfaction, can reach out to us for a free sample of our customer service aptitude test and learn more about how we can help.