How To Hire And Train To Show Your Customers Some Love

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Hiring customer service representatives can make or break your brand. So the pressure to find the right people – those who can inspire passionate brand advocates and push the word "churn" right out of your company's vocabulary – can be intense.

Sena Sitti, GoodHire
Sena Sitti, GoodHire

Sena Sitti, GoodHire's director of operations, has spent the last several years building, training, and motivating a devoted team of support specialists who answer questions on everything from the basics of running GoodHire background checks to consent to where to find information that makes sense of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other relevant laws.

Given that GoodHire customer service earns consistently high praise, she's clearly doing something right. Sitti, who helped develop and launch the GoodHire support team (affectionately dubbed "The Goodies"), agreed to share her insight into what to look for, how to train, and how to retain valuable team members.

1. Hire For Empathy

Sitti's customer-service philosophy derives from one word: empathy. "Even if you can't give customers what they want, help them feel like they've won," Sitti advises. "By the end of the conversation, the customer should leave feel "˜I was validated,' that "˜I was important to these people.' You can't just say no and leave them hanging."

Look for job candidates who understand and demonstrate the ability to listen, acknowledge the other person's point of view, and show a willingness to do their best to help them.

2. Hire For Engagement

Goodies are both the face of the company and a crucial link to the product team, so Sitti looks for people who want to make an impact and to be involved in the development of the product.

Support specialists interact with customers more than anyone else at the company. That means they accrue valuable insight into how customers use GoodHire and what new features they'd like to see. Relaying that information to the product team sets up a win for everyone. But it requires a specific mindset and a desire to get involved.

3. Hire For Cross-Channel Communication

Customer support today involves many communication channels, from telephone calls to emails to chats, to social media. Sitti looks for people with good written and verbal skills who are comfortable communicating with a professional audience. After all, Sitti points out, when you're the face of the company, "you have to represent us well."

5. Hire For Problem Solving And Curiosity

No one customer's problem is exactly the same as another's, and answers aren't always easy.

"You have to have a curious mind," Sitti explains. So she looks for people who go beyond the simple answer. People who are willing to say, "I'm not just going to refund this order, I'm going to investigate to find out what the problem is, and forward it on."

6. Train To Retain

Of course, hiring is only part of the battle for building great teams. Keeping them is a whole different challenge.

In order to give a new Goodie the best chance for success, Sitti puts each new hire through a rigorous combination of classroom and on-the-job training. Classroom training covers how the product works as well as FCRA concepts. When ready, Goodies move to on-the-job training, but remain fully supported by a more experienced "buddy" who helps them.

"We go a little bit at time so they don't feel overwhelmed," Sitti explains. "They can take their time to understand things because it's important that they're giving the right information out and helping customers correctly."

All training is personalized. Some Goodies add new skills before others, but the program launches well-trained employees into rewarding positions.

"The more you ask for, the more we ask you to do," Sitti says, "but we make sure you're set up for success."

7. Manage To Motivate

"The Goodies are my customers," Sitti says. "I'm here to make sure that their they're able to help GoodHire's customers."

To do so, Sitti focuses on creating an environment that's conducive to excellence. That involves a mix of support and coaching that helps people make hard decisions and encourages interaction and feedback with the product team.

Her main goal when it comes to managing her team? "To let them know that they're valued and that they're an important part of what we're doing."

This approach makes service specialists feel less like call center agents and more like part of the GoodHire team. It's also one of the aspects of her job that keeps Sitti herself motivated.

"I love that we can create," she explains. "Even though the product team comes up with the product, they come to the support team to say, "What do you think customers are going to think about this? How will this affect our customers? I love being part of this team that really cares about customers."

This relentless focus on customer needs and providing customer value conveys the message that the work the Goodies do has a purpose, and that they're helping to build GoodHire services.

What traits do you look for when hiring for customer service representatives? Let us know @goodhiretweets #BuildGreatTeams

Gwynne Monahan

Gwynne Monahan

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Gwynne Monahan is a writer, editor, and consumer of knowledge who focuses on the intersection of law, technology, and HR. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her enjoying some jazz or a game of soccer.

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