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How to Hire the Best Customer Support People for Your Small Business

Customer support is the face of the company. They represent not only your brand but the culture of the company as well.

Today, when everything goes according to plan, most customers won’t encounter a customer support person. Much of the process is automated. But your customers definitely will encounter customer support when something goes wrong.

What are the qualities of a good customer support person? Many attempted to answer this question. After crystalizing it, the answer bore down to these qualities:

  • A good customer service person has to be empathetic
  • The person has to be detail oriented
  • Good communicator
  • The customer service person has to be a cultural fit to the company culture

Some of those qualities are measurable and simple to observe, but some are more ethereal. How would you measure empathy in an hour long interview?

“Empathy. That’s what I look for in all my employees. Only when they can understand the feelings of their customers, can they provide top notch service. I can teach them Linux or Windows but nobody can teach them empathy; you’re either born with it or you aren’t.” Says Rob La Gesse, VP of Social Support at Rackspace. For some employers, the ability to hire good people is a source of pride.

Here is one CEO’s method:

  1. Teach me something about… He chooses subjects that are on the candidate’s CV. It can be a project the candidate was involved in or a hobby.  This, he says, tells him a few things: How does the candidate convey the subject, the level of passion the person has, and can this person stand behind his claims.
  2. The CEO might also pretend not to listen at times, asking the candidate to repeat himself twice or more, to see if he gets annoyed and short.
  3. He has a simple support script; something went wrong in an airline for example. He asks his candidates to write an email to the customer. What this does is tell him about the candidate’s language capabilities, how well he/she communicates, and the attention to detail. He also sees if they use all the tools at their disposal.

Another Method

Jeff Vincent, Director of Customer Happiness at Wistia, says he gets his impression from the CV. “When I’m looking at applications, I look for detail-oriented folks who are willing to put themselves out there a bit. No stock resumes but rather, a cover letter that indicates research and displays personality”.

To check for cultural fit, there is nothing better than a conversation about something random. “Tell me about yourself” is so used, that people have a cookie cutter answer. Look for something else, like a current event, but stay away from religion, sex, and politics.