Hire Customer Service Naturals — and Keep Them

Last week, I shared a post on how creating lines between departments impacts the customer experience, and how it'll impact customer loyalty and retention in the long run. An organization's customer service has a lot to do with the overall customer experience. One important step to delivering an amazing customer service experience is making sure you hire the right people. Kate Nasser wrote a great article reflecting on the attributes of customer service naturals. These are her top five:
  1. Accept the absurdity of life without using sarcasm toward the customer.
  2. Easily adapt; need for control is low.
  3. Brilliantly balance objectivity and caring.
  4. Initiate both caring and action.
  5. Know that they can’t change others — only their own perspectives and reactions.
There's obviously more to cultivating a team that is going to wow the pants off customers, but hiring the right people is a solid start and gives organizations a competitive edge.

But it's not over once you find the right people.

Customer service naturals excel and are happiest, according to Kate, when working for an organization that doesn't view customer service as a cost center and understands the business value of providing outstanding experiences to all customers (not just the big spenders). To truly take your customer experience to the next level, you need to empower your customer service team. This means scripts need to go, rigid rules need to be reevaluated, and micromanagement needs to stop. If you continue these practices not only will customer experience suffer, you'll also lose your customer service naturals.

I trust you know whether you have riding rules, too much supervision and structured scripts, but do you know how motivated employees are or how satisfied customers are? Sure you can look at employee retention rates and customer churn, but that's only going to signal the alarms after there's a problem, and it's going to be much harder to come back from. (Note: it's hard to hire naturals if they're not interviewing with naturals, same as it's hard to hire a great marketing team, finance department or technology division if current employees aren't empowered or inspired.) Instead of relying on retention numbers, you should have feedback initiatives in place to measure employee loyalty, motivation and satisfaction. You should have programs in place to measure client and customer satisfaction. You should be improving customer experience management programs.

You need the right people within your organization who are empowered to cross department lines and deliver amazing experiences, but once you have them, you need to make sure you're doing things to re-recruit them everyday. Some organizations are great at this. Is your organization one of them? I'd love to hear your re-recruitment stories!
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