Customer support dream team

Crafting the right customer service team for your company and giving them what they need to thrive in an often high-stress, high-turnover environment is critical for your brand. Your agents share an important role in shaping and maintaining a positive public perception of your company and its products and services. As a result, it’s essential to take special care in selecting, focusing, and supporting these invaluable members of your team.

The impact of good (and bad) service

Before you dive into the hunt for your dream agents, consider the powerful impact a well-selected team can have on the customer experience. A survey conducted by Dimensional Research found that well over half of respondents purchased more from companies they had a positive customer service experience with, and a slightly larger percentage stopped buying from a company after a bad experience.

Social media and peer-to-peer communication plays an equally important role in affecting a company’s image as well. 95 percent of respondents in the survey reported sharing their negative experiences with their peers, though 87 percent also spread the word after positive customer service interactions. 69 percent of respondents say a good customer service experience helped resolve their problem more quickly.

How customers feel after an interaction with your support team can potentially make or break your image, and every customer interaction provides an opportunity to build greater loyalty for your brand. Even unhappy customers reaching out with a problem or complaint can be turned around, leaving them with a positive experience and transforming them into long-time patrons.

That’s why it’s in your best interest to handpick your agents carefully.

The value of finding the right hires

Customer service isn’t easy, and you don’t want to hire just anyone for this role. It takes the right person to tackle the daily challenges of keeping customers happy, dealing with occasionally difficult people, and staying recharged and upbeat each day. The good news is that even if you’re struggling to find the right local candidates to fit the bill, you can always expand your search online and tap into a broader market to find the perfect people for your team.

To help you get started, here are a few questions you should consider before you look for possible candidates:

  • What’s my company’s mission statement, and how can my support team help further that mission in meaningful ways?
  • What’s my average customer like, what are their day-to-day challenges, and how can we make their lives better or easier through our support efforts?
  • What service channels do I want to provide to my customers? Email only? Online chat, phone, and social? All of them?
  • Do I want to provide 24/7 support or only offer support during business hours?
  • Who do I want representing my company, and what types of individuals are a good fit for our mission?
  • How do I want my reps to address customers, and should they follow a script or interact more naturally?
  • What tools are needed to provide optimal support, and are these tools already in place?

Now that you have a better idea of how to shape your team, you can start thinking about who to hire. Ideal candidates for prime customer service roles often possess a few inherent traits you should always be on the lookout for. The ability to empathize with customers while demonstrating genuine warmth holds tremendous value in this field. An upbeat nature and optimistic outlook are equally key qualities, as are compassion and a willingness to be a team player.

A candidate might seem perfect on paper, but how do you really find out if a potential hire is the right fit? Here are some important questions you may want to ask them:

  • What did you like about your most recent job? What did you dislike?
  • What do you think makes really great customer service? Describe a positive experience you’ve had as a customer.
  • What would you say if you didn’t know how to answer a customer’s question?
  • How would you handle an impatient customer?
  • Describe a time when you were able to turn an unhappy customer into a delighted customer.
  • What were some of the problems with the products or services at previous companies you’ve worked for?
  • How do you improve your skills and stay up to date with best practices?

How agent candidates respond will give you a good sense of their work style and personality and if they’d be a good match with your company’s overall mission. You should look for people who understand your company, are inspired by your mission, and can anticipate the needs of your customers. Sometimes that means focusing on selecting candidates with the right talents over those that simply have the requisite skills.

You don’t have to look far to see the positive benefits a well-crafted customer service dream team can do for a brand. Rather than just tackling customer service as an afterthought to its business, online retailer Zappos has made the art of customer happiness a very visible, very central pillar in its overall business model.

Zappos’ success runs deeper than its free, no-questions-asked returns and its penchant for going above and beyond for its customers. It’s the human touch that really makes the biggest difference. Zappos’ agents are given the authority and flexibility to do what needs to be done to make customers happy—whether that’s as simple as issuing a refund or as unusual as staying on the line for hours or sending flowers to a customer with a medical condition. They don’t read scripts when dealing with customers, and they’re eager please.

Hiring the right agents and empowering them to shine in their often challenging roles can be a huge winning combo.

Looking beyond the local pool

When you’re building out your optimal customer support team, you need not limit yourself to local candidates. Remote talent can be a great asset to your team, bringing unique skills, a creative spirit, and a fresh attitude to the table. Customer service is perfectly suited for working off-site, too, so it’s not a big stretch for most organizations to broaden their search to online candidates.

If you’re looking to expand your options and candidate pool, finding your agents through remote talent is a great way to create your dream team. The right agents can have a huge positive impact on your brand’s customer service no matter where they’re located, and looking for agents online lets you find truly engaged and motivated individuals who are seeking opportunities beyond their back doors.

Not to mention, having a remote team in different time zones to offer extended hands-on support hours can be a powerful way to boost your outreach and provide even better service to customers.

Whether you’re interviewing in person, over the phone, or through a video chat, always take the time to connect with potential agent hires on a personal level to get a feel for their abilities beyond their professional qualifications. Are they patient, engaged, friendly, reassuring, inspired, and motivated? You can learn a lot about them from a simple conversation.

Once you’ve got your team assembled, communicating with your remote agents is even easier than ever too, with all of the collaborative tools available. Skype and Google Hangouts make scheduling and conducting valuable face-time meetings a breeze, and sharing documents with Dropbox and Google Docs is far more efficient than juggling email attachments.

It’s a perfect time to expand and improve your customer service program with a stellar team of agents primed to wow your customers and clients. Remember: If you’re not finding the right candidates in your local area, consider expanding your search and looking online for talented agents. You owe it to your brand to find the best people for the task and hire the right fit for your company.

Get the Upwork guide for tips on building a world-class distributed customer support team. Then, get started and post a job today!