Customer experience is everything. You want to be sure the people on your customer service team build upon the positive momentum of your brand—not detract from it. Fortunately, professionals seeking customer support roles are abundant; however, because of this, the search to find the right professional to fill your open CSR role can quickly become overwhelming.
Despite the differences in responsibilities from company to company, professionals with a very specific personality type and professional soft skill set excel in client-facing positions.
When interviewing for your next customer service representative, screen for these 7 soft skills:
Empathy / Emotional Intelligence
The more empathy used within customer-facing interactions, the more understood your customers will feel. A customer service representative with high emotional intelligence will demonstrate –through their actions and words –that your business is committed to providing them with the best experience possible.
This is true of all positions ranging from a customer support role in a call center through more account-oriented support structures, like that of a client manager role.
Additionally, having high emotional intelligence is often indicative of proficiency with other skills like active listening and conflict resolution, which make for a well-rounded professional who is capable of consistently delivering a superior service to your customers.
Great client experiences are built on exceeding client expectations. If the candidate you’re interviewing for your open customer service role displays a track record of doing the bare minimum to get by, this position (and your business) may not be the best fit for them.
At any given time, successful client support professionals will juggle tasks that are a mix of proactive and reactive; short-term, and long-term. The ability to prioritize these responsibilities based on urgency –as well as the time it takes to complete –requires someone who is highly organized.
Being able to prioritize different customer discussions, items currently in progress, as well as follow up regularly with customers is what sets top-performing account managers apart.
Ensuring customer satisfaction is the primary function of the customer service role. Sometimes this requires a bit of ingenuity and creativity on the part of the CSR. Hiring a professional who has a natural inclination to think outside the box will help your business resolve client issues faster and/or before they happen.
Your customer service team is accountable not only to your clients but your team as well. Externally, your clients expect their account manager to follow up and do the things they say they will do. Internally, your client support team is expected to deliver the same level of service to all of your clients. A professional who can own the responsibility of providing superior customer service with every client interaction is a professional you can rely on to move your team forward.
Part of maintaining a satisfied client base is being able to see situations that would lead to a dip in customer satisfaction and stopping them before they come to fruition. Hiring a customer service representative who has the foresight to work spot-checks into their daily routine allows for a more efficient operational process and more satisfied customers.
There is a certain level of agility needed with client-facing roles. Client support specialists need to be able to pivot from one account to the next rather quickly and be able to give the task at hand their full attention. This kind of “mental switching” can be stressful for professionals who prefer working in moderate-paced environments with heavy structure. On the other hand, those who thrive in environments where no two days are the same may feel at home in the fast-paced environment of a customer service role.
When hiring your next customer service representative, remember that well-rounded professionals have a mix of hard skills and soft skills. However, it may be beneficial to have a screening process that focuses on the soft skills of prospective candidates.
Hard skills such as software proficiency and industry knowledge can be learned, but things like compassion, organization, and motivation are skills that your business and your clients can’t afford your customer support representatives to not have on day one.
By designing your recruiting process to quickly identify those who possess these characteristics in spades, your business and your customers will thank you.