Customer service agents are the frontline to any business which comes with great responsibility. Agents do more than answer phone calls. They have to manage frustrated customers, answer questions, and calm customers down all while remaining cool and collected. Hiring customer service representatives is an essential task for managers and owners. It can be hard to tell which candidates have what it takes to engage with customers and represent your brand well.
Not only can hiring the wrong individual negatively affect the customer experience, but it is also a waste of valuable resources. Studies report that on average, it costs six to nine months salary to properly recruit and train new employees. If your customer service reps earn $30,000 per year, that is $15,000 to $22,500 in additional expenses. In addition, U.S. companies lose an estimated $41 billion each year due to bad service, making hiring the right reps invaluable. While you can’t predict the outcome, there are interview questions you can ask to help you choose the right customer service rep.
1. What do you know about our products and services?
Asking this question uncovers how invested candidates are in finding a new job and likely how invested they would be in their daily responsibilities. When they take the time to research your company in advance, a candidate is showing they care about the work they do and is more likely to do the same as an agent. It also shows they are self-motivated and don’t always require guidance or direction to solve problems or teach themselves.
2. How have you managed angry customers in the past? How did you handle it? Would you change anything today?
If the candidate has worked in customer service previously, he or she should be able to answer this question. Demanding or upset customers are normal in customer service. Responding no is a potential concern. Ask additional questions or change the way the question is worded to get a better understanding of their previous experience. Look for answers that show the individual understands the importance of listening, empathy, and patience.
3. Tell us about a great customer experience you have had and why.
A candidate who can tell you in detail about a personal positive customer experience is typically more engaged. Understanding why they think it was good service also uncovers what they believe good customer service is. If that matches your brand’s goals, it should be a good match. If they can’t provide details of a scenario, then they might not think good customer service is essential.
4. How would you handle ________ complaint?
Give them a common complaint or roadblock that current agents hear daily. Just because they have the experience to back it up, doesn’t mean they have adequate skills to manage conversations effectively. Look for answers that match and reflect the core values and mission of your brand. This is also a great way to see how the candidate reacts under pressure – a necessary trait for call representatives.
5. Have you ever had to provide feedback to a co-worker when they were doing something incorrectly? How did you handle it?
Communication is a crucial part of great customer service. It is also vital when agents work in close proximity to other team members. How they manage difficult conversations with others will tell you a lot about their willingness to help team members and their ability to approach a problematic situation in a positive way.
6. Tell us about a time you broke the rules to help a customer.
Most businesses have guidelines in place on how customer service reps should handle various situations. In many cases, there are also exceptions to the rule if it for the good of the customer and the business. This response tells if you if they are capable of making good judgment calls or if they go to the extreme to avoid angry customers without caring about the negative impact on the company. How they respond also gives you a look at how they view themselves and their value to their team. If the answer seems pompous, they may not be a good team player or someone willing to look out for others.
In addition to these questions, listen for the following red flags in their answers:
+ Excessive use of I or me
+ Mention of preferring to be alone
+ Signs of not liking stressful situations
Any of these should be cause for concern that the individual is not capable of handling high-stress scenarios.