How To Hire People Who Will Engage With Your Customers
I know very few, if any, people who would honestly state that the majority of their team members meet or exceed their stated standards for customer service.
Yet each and every one of us does our best to carefully hire the most qualified people we can find. We use everything we’ve been taught, and everything we’ve learned over the years to weed out the ones we don’t want, and choose the best among our applicants. We do our best to interpret and understand the information we get.
We then give team members our standards and our expectations, and we still of course, find that most of them fail to treat our customers the way we would.
People cannot be trained to have high customer service standards.
They might know our expectations, however there is little we can do to affect their default customer service standards.
What is the disconnect between our hiring efforts and the results of those efforts?
I believe it is as simple as this…
We are looking for the wrong things when we hire for customer service.
We are finding people who can run a register, unload trucks, order food and supplies, wash dishes, greet customers, paste on a smile, keep the floor clean and dry, show customers to an item, and even ask questions to narrow down on the best way to help that customer. Yet we can easily train these skills to anyone.
We are not finding people who will always meet or exceed our customer service standards.
Anyone working in restaurants or retail stores, perhaps working anyplace where customers are involved… knows that we simply do not have the time, or really the inclination to follow-up on each and every worker’s level of customer service.
We have to find people who meet or exceed our standards on their own.
How do we do this you ask?
1. Admit that while you are doing your best, you are still not getting the results you desire. That means you must be open to changing the way you think about hiring.
2. Carefully define your customer service standards. How do you expect your team members to treat your customers?
3. Define them simply, with no more than a handful of statements. It might look something like this:
- We treat each and every customer the way we want to be treated
- Helping customers is our work… customers are the reason we are here
- Customers are NEVER an interruption… see above
- Anything is returnable at any time, for any reason
- We will do everything in our power to keep a customer from leaving unhappy
- Always offer help and try to engage
- If they want to be left alone, it is not about you… Leave them alone
- We will invite customers into our store as if inviting family and friends into our home
- When in doubt, do for the customer… we would rather ask forgiveness than wait and ask for permission
Your list should describe your own personal customer service standards and expectations. This is not a wish list for some dream world… it’s how you really want your team members to act with your customers, day in and day out.
4. Develop questions that find the applicant’s default level of customer service… that is… what are their own customer service standards for themselves?
For myself, through some trial and error, I came up with “the ketchup question” which solved my customer service problems. I would suggest reading the post and either using the question as is, or adapting it to your own needs.
5. Hired only those applicants whose own customer service standards meet or exceed yours.
Done! Oh wait… just how do we develop those questions? I guess you’ll have to read my blog. I wrote a whole series on hiring for qualities instead of skills. You can find the beginning of that series right here. Of course feel free to skip around, however it’s important to remember that hiring the best people is only the beginning. Keeping them requires a lot more work, which again, I describe in my blog. Great people will not work for a poor boss for very long…
If you have any questions on this method of hiring, feel free to ask.
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