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According to C. Britt Beemer, an authority on customer service, “A good customer service person is born, not taught.” Based on experience from several industry experts, these six tips can help you consistently identify talented customer service representatives.

Tip #1: Start with a covert phone screening

Chances are, your agent will interact with your customers over the phone, so if they don’t impress you on the phone from the get-go, don’t schedule another interview. Rather than tell them it’s a phone screening, Beemer likes to call professionals saying he had a couple of questions about their background or needed more information about their proposal. This provides a more accurate view of their true customer service personality.

Here’s what to look for during the phone screening:

  • Empathy—Does the person genuinely make you feel good and sound like they care about people—all people? Empathy is one of the most critical qualities customer support agents need to have.
  • A smiling voice—We’ve all called up businesses where the person answering the phone was so uninviting that you considered taking your business elsewhere. During your screening, make sure the person sounds so friendly and happy you can hear them smiling throughout the conversation.
  • Concise speech—Do they answer your questions directly? This shows they listen well and can resolve issues efficiently.
  • Energy—Customer service agents need a lot of energy to greet each customer cheerfully as if they’re the first call of the day…even if they may be the 100th. Phones dull the energy in people’s voices, so they need to be extra energetic and cheerful to express it effectively.

Tip #2: Look for introverts

Even though service representatives interact with customers all day, the best ones are usually more introverted. That’s because introverts usually have the focus and patience to sit at their desk or stand behind a counter all day, helping one customer after another. And introverts tend to listen more attentively, which can help them provide better solutions. On the other hand, strong extroverts tend to dominate conversations, leaving customers frustrated and feeling unheard.

Tip #3: Watch their body language

Being a customer service agent requires stamina. When you’re meeting the professional for the first time, see if they present themselves with energy and enthusiasm. During in-person and video interviews, watch their eye contact—are they staying focused on the conversation? Do they seem genuinely interested? And keep an eye out for slouching during the interview. It can indicate a lack of energy and/or disinterest.

Tip #4: Ask about their hobbies

Learning about their personal hobbies or other interests may show if they’re inherently interested in helping others. You might discover they enjoy volunteering, coaching a little league team, or other similar types of activities.

Tip #5: Gauge how much they enjoy life

Successful customer service professionals usually have a positive attitude. While a positive attitude is important for anyone in any department, it’s especially critical when working with customers. Because when a person really enjoys life, they’re usually better at convincing a customer they can fix any problem. And it may also help them bounce back quickly after handling a challenging situation.

Tip #6: Test their creativity

Exceptional customer service agents are skilled at creating smart solutions on the spot. You can find out how creative the professional is by asking them to explain how they handled a difficult situation in the past. This may provide insight into how quickly they can resolve your customers’ concerns, how creatively they use available resources, and how satisfied your customers may be from the experience.

Look past the resume for better matches

Finding the ideal customer service agent isn’t difficult when you know how to look for the right inherent skills and personality. Once prospects meet your other experience and hard skills needs, these six tips should help you clearly identify the best talent for your company.

Remember that customer service agents are the frontline representatives of your brand and your company. Be sure to treat them well, and remind them how much you appreciate their work. When you have top-tier talent working for a company they enjoy, you and your customers will benefit greatly.

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