Although it’s common knowledge that excellent customer service is critical to a business's success, current events make it more difficult to consistently deliver a superb customer experience. Because of the pandemic, there’s been a shift in how customers engage with brands, as well as what they find valuable in that relationship. That’s why knowing how to choose the right candidate for a customer-facing role is more important than ever - and customer service tests are here to help.
While the Boomers and Gen X-ers remember waiting days for purchases to arrive, newer generations expect more than just a quick turnaround. Customer relationships in 2021 have been defined by empathy, personalization, convenience, and digital change, according to a report by Salesforce. Because Gen Z has grown up with one-day delivery as the norm, they are more interested in building relationships with brands, rather than just buying a product or service.
“Stakeholder capitalism” is increasingly factored into buying decisions as these same customers reconsider the role of business in society. According to a Salesforce survey, 90% of customers believe a company's response to a crisis reflects its reliability, while 86% believe the role of companies in society is changing. Finally, 53% of buyers say they have an emotional attachment to the brands they buy from most often.
This stresses the importance of finding the best possible candidate when hiring for customer service roles. Keep reading to learn about the steps that businesses should take to improve their bottom line by hiring talent with excellent customer service skills.
Good Service Is Good Business
Customers and businesses have a different relationship today than years ago. Back then, customers would be lured by ads for low prices and product quality. Because of an increased emphasis on customer experience and support, advertisements are not as product-oriented as they once were. Today, advertisements are focusing on the consumer as the most important factor, and the positive experience he or she will have by simply purchasing a product or service.
As high quality in products/services is now expected, customers are focusing on the value they get in their post-purchase experience when deciding which brand to put their loyalty in. Customers would rather invest in a brand that focuses on their needs and is able to constantly provide value. According to the Qualtrix XM Institute, 89% of organizations with "much above average" customer experiences outperform their competitors financially.
Around 60% of customers report that excellent customer service is the main factor for them to feel loyalty toward a particular brand, whereas 78% of customers would gladly do business with a brand again after a mistake, provided that customer service and overall experience was satisfactory.
The value that exceptional customer service brings to the table can’t be emphasized enough. When compared to their competitors, businesses that invest in a strong customer service team see higher customer satisfaction, lower turnover, and more revenue.
Characteristics of Quality Customer Service
Forbes says that one of the best ways to build a strong company brand is to distinguish itself from the competition through excellent customer service. With so many options to choose from, the unsatisfied customer can easily spend their money elsewhere if they’re not satisfied with the service. Using customer service as a differentiator can help businesses establish a positive brand image with loyal customers.
However, contrary to popular opinion, decision-makers do not always know what their customers want. They can convince themselves that their employees are providing service that exceeds expectations. But this couldn't be further from the truth, according to a recent "State of the Connected Customer" poll of over 6,700 corporate buyers and consumers. Approximately 51% of customers believe that most businesses fall short of their expectations for excellent service.
While there are many ways that businesses can provide exceptional customer service, a few characteristics of quality customer service representatives are considered key:
- familiarity with the product
- maintaining a positive attitude with the customer
- creativity in problem-solving
- quick responses
- personalized service
- active listening
- being proactive in helping
All of these factors can align to generate outstanding customer service. Great customer service wins businesses a reputation for being helpful and pleasant to work with, and it keeps their customers loyal. Customers want to be treated with respect and dignity rather than just numbers in a spreadsheet. So for customer service-driven growth, customers should be every business’s top priority.
The Lifeblood of a Business: Customers
Businesses must realize that it’s their responsibility to bridge the gap between the ideal of what a brand should represent and how that brand really portrays itself in their consumer relationships. Every interaction with a brand has the potential to make or break a relationship, loyalty, and goodwill. This is why businesses need every employee who is in charge of customer service to have the skills to keep them loyal to the brand.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, famously encouraged his staff in a 1999 shareholder letter to "get up every morning terrified" - not of their competitors, but of their customers. "Our customers have helped build our company," Bezos continued, "and we consider them loyal to us - until someone else presents them with a better service."
Amazon is already worth over $1 trillion in 2021 because they have put the customer at the center of their decision-making process. When customers are at the center of a company's strategic decisions, a world-class customer service platform emerges naturally by successfully anticipating customers' needs. Great customer service entails not just adhering to industry best practices, such as respecting customers' time, maintaining a pleasant attitude, and providing informed and resourceful resources, but also going above and beyond to exceed expectations.
Sabri Suby, the founder of KingKong marketing agency and author of "Sell Like Crazy", argues that businesses should be having the same conversations that customers are having with themselves to anticipate customers’ needs accurately. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but it does require a proactive approach to consider what customers’ needs are.
Businesses should be aware that nearly 60% of customers consider long hold times and wait times to be the most frustrating parts of the customer service experience. Awareness of this statistic should make a business think about how to shorten the wait time. A Microsoft survey reported that 53% of shoppers believe their feedback doesn't go to anyone who can actually act on it, which is why businesses need to be more diligent when handling customer issues.
What to Look for When Hiring a Customer Service Representative
While every team within a company is ultimately working to serve the customer, customer service representatives are on the front lines. They see both the positive and negative aspects of customers and it can be a thankless job. This is why it's critical that workers who interact with consumers, ensuring their pre-and-post-purchase experiences are positive, be well-equipped to manage any situation.
Customer service employees must be willing to be problem-solvers. This means that when the going gets tough, they'll have to be patient, tolerant, and able to control themselves. They must be emotionally stable, calm, and non-anxious, as well as empathetic.
While interviews alone are helpful to discover some of these personality traits and skills, they are far from the perfect solution for hiring managers. Some factors, such as product familiarity as well as sales skills, can be learned. Other qualities, such as adaptability and great communication skills, are harder to master.
Pre-employment tests are useful for screening applicants, determining their skills, and detecting problems that employers might expect. Customer service aptitude tests are able to identify the top performers and measure customer service behavior traits which can be statistically compared to other candidates who have taken the test.
A reliable test can help you determine what to look for when hiring a customer service representative and contain a mix of the following topics:
- Respect of Customer
- Service Orientation
- Maintains Composure
- Team Player
In addition, as customer service representatives usually work in teams, it can be helpful to incorporate a supervisor aptitude test to test for team “leads” down the line. Other characteristics of quality customer service representatives - reliability, helping disposition, self-confidence, supervision, candidness - can also be easily tested with a customer service assessment test.
Hire the Right Candidate with the Help of a Customer Service Assessment Test
Today’s customers are very different from customers a few decades ago and simply delivering the service or a product just doesn’t cut it anymore. Customer expectations and behaviors have shifted in a dramatic way. Customers expect digital-first convenience and are putting unprecedented pressure on brands to innovate. They want empathic experiences, not simply more personalized ones.
As we discussed in "The Cost of Poor Customer Service," offering exceptional customer service should not be viewed as a nice bonus or an "add-on" feature; rather, it should be a core aspect of every org's mission statement (even public sector/government agencies). Client loss, low corporate morale, a damaged reputation, increased price sensitivity, and other issues can all come from poor customer service.
Four-fifths of customers value company engagement as much as they value product quality. This includes 83% of millennials and 85% of business buyers, whose high expectations highlight the importance of customer experience for both B2B and B2C businesses. Finally, as 90% of customers say how a company acts during a crisis reveals its trustworthiness – the jury is finally in: businesses should do their very best to properly hire the right candidates for their customer service team.
Customer service representatives can enhance the customer experience if they have qualities like being calm and composed, emotionally stable, driven to help people in need, and creative enough to be able to actually do it. Rather than relying on interviews which are by no means a good measure of future job performance, hiring managers might want to consider investing in a high-quality customer service aptitude test, which can accurately and thoroughly identify the necessary traits for a customer service representative.
EmployTest offers a variety of pre-employment tests to help businesses properly assess candidates for these important skills. If you want to learn more about how to choose the right candidate for your open role, try a free sample of our customer service aptitude test - and learn more about our test options at our Explore page.