Hiring is the critical first step in building a team that delivers outstanding customer service.
It is not easy to find people with a service orientation and history. But it is much harder to create a customer service mindset in people who have not already developed the habits on their own. Skills and techniques can be picked up in a few weeks, but principles, values, attitudes, and habits take years to take root.
- Take the time to do it right. When we hire the right people in the first place, we spend less time on training, managing, and firing.
- Screen for service. During the screening interview, ask the candidate a service-related question, such as “Can you tell me about a time that you went the extra mile to take care of a customer?”
- Give them homework. Ask the candidate to observe your business for 30 minutes before a scheduled interview. Ask them what they think about how you treat customers, and what they would do better.
- Let them know what they’re getting into. Go over your customer service standards, and let them know they’ll be held to them.
- During the interview, pay close attention to the answers, and ask for specifics. Everyone pays lip service to customer service. If they really practice it, they will have many stories to tell.
- Check their references. Ask service-related questions such as, “Would you say that the candidate delivers outstanding customer service? What examples come to mind?”