Bad or unpleasant customer service experiences can cost your company money both in the short term and the long term. In the short term your company will lose a sale and possibly the chance to do business with that customer ever again. In the long term, however, you lose future customers because previous ones will share their negative experiences and "warn off" other potential consumers from working with your organization. In fact, when a customer has a bad experience, 59% will cease doing business with you. And that's not to mention that you'll actually be helping your competitors in the process, as 55% of consumers said they'd go to a company's competitor to do business with them after having a negative experience.
The 3 E's of Customer Service Qualities
At the center of this issue are your employees. Your employees are the ones responsible for making a customer experience positive or negative. Your employees need to be prepared to provide positive customer experiences at all times. And the best way to have employees prepared is to already have them possess the work ability, work motivations and behaviors, and work skills necessary to make it happen.
You can find those employees during the hiring process, provided you know what to look for. After all, hiring candidates to create a positive customer experience means not only understanding what your customers want in a good experience, but how you can find those correlating abilities, behaviors, and skills in your candidates. To help you get started, think of breaking down the job into measurable areas. For example, these three customer service qualities are important to delivering a successful customer experience.
- Empathy: Candidates who are able to empathize with your customers are more likely to leave your customers feeling positive about the experience, even if the interaction began as a negative. After all, a customer wants to be heard and related to, even before they hear a solution. If a candidate doesn't make the customer feel valued and understood it can lead to disaster. Explore different situations where the candidate would have to display empathy as well. For example, how they would help a customer coming in shopping for a relative’s birthday? Create a situation where a customer calls up angry and is demanding a solution while blaming the employee. How does the candidate handle these situations? Do they look to show solidarity and diffuse bad situations by being positive, listening and responding?
Key Behaviors and Skills: Listening, oral communication, stress tolerance, composure.
- Energy: While it’s hard to be excited about everything all the time, look for candidates who display a general enthusiasm. Sometimes more stoic candidates can be confused with being apathetic or lethargic, which can lead to an unpleasant experience. Candidates with positive energy in the hiring process will bring that energy with them on the job and make customer service experiences all the more positive.
Key Behaviors and Skills: Compliance, dependability, decision making.
- Etiquette: You don’t want your company representatives to be robotic. In contact centers it makes the interaction feel automated, and in retail it makes the shopping experience feel like it’s not genuine. What you do want, however, is to have your candidates constantly maintain proper etiquette when providing a pleasant customer experience. “Please” and “thank you” goes a long way, as so does politeness and maturity. It reflects well on your brand, and your customers will appreciate it. It can be hard to use just interview questions for this, so leverage your hiring assessments to target these specific personality traits and therefore ensure you’re going to give customers the positive experience they want.
Key Behaviors and Skills: Professionalism, tact, accountability.
Measuring these behaviors when you're looking for candidates to fill customer service roles can lead to positive customer experiences, keeping your customers happy and remaining loyal. And, while these are good guidelines to start with, feel free to adjust them as needed for the roles in your company. You might find that some work better when applied one way than another, or some positions require more attention to one of the three E's than the other two. And, if you need more information, download our e-book below on five talent acquisition commandments below.