7 Rules of Thumb for Hiring an Epic Customer Support Team

So you’ve finally hopped on to the customer service excellence train. You’ve seen where it’s headed – to the land of high customer satisfaction, long term customer loyalty, and even increased conversions. You’ve decided you want in. You’ve already researched the best customer support platforms you may want to use (such as Happy Fox).

But now it’s decision time. Who do you choose to be on your team of epic customer service awesomeness? How do you select the people who will be interacting with your prized customers, troubleshooting issues with them, and guiding them through the purchase process?

Not only do you want to hire the right people, but you want to ensure that you don’t hire the wrong people. You know them – the ones who damage your brand by calling your customer stupid and then hanging up, or who recommend that you buy products from your competitor. Hiring your support team can be a headache. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some things to consider when choosing your support team.


Preparing for the hire

1. Know who you are (and hire people like you)

Knowing who your business is and what you want is far from an irrelevant or abstract question – it should actually form the basis of your hiring decision. What type of image do you want to portray to your customers? An up-and-coming tech startup may want to display a different persona from a chain of hardware stores or a banking and finance company. Decide on the personality, values, and beliefs that your business and brand displays so that you can hire people that share these.

2. Decide what skills are necessary and what can be learned

What skills are necessary that your support staff needs and what can be taught or learned on the job? If your potential agent has little to no computer literacy, then they will probably not be a good fit for live chat support, but they may be fine for a support position in a call center. Come up with a basic list of skills that will be necessary for your support roles and ensure that your hires have that basic level of skill.

3. Craft the right interview questions

The interview is the most important part of your customer support team selection – so make it count! This is where you finally meet them in person and figure out details that could not be gleaned from a resume or certificate. However, it may be difficult to come up with the right interview questions that you’ll need to ask your potential support team members. Some of the general themes that you will want to explore in your interview include:

  • Honesty
  • Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Curiosity
  • Passion
  • Attitude
  • Engagement

Your customer support team attributes

There are critical attributes that every person on your support team should have that you simply cannot do without. These include:

4. Good communication

Good communication skills are necessary for any employee in a customer service position. You should select those with communication skills appropriate for the right channel – someone with good diction and clarity in their voice is suitable for a telephone support job while of course you’ll need someone with good grammar and quick typing for live chat. Communication goes beyond just those hard skills – it is also important that your customer support agent be able to understand concepts necessary to help the customer and be able to explain these in a clear yet concise manner.

5. Good listening

Your customer service agents will need to be able to listen with intent. Quite often, customers will not able to instantly or accurately identify their issues, so it is important that your support team can carefully listen to your customers, ask the right questions, and present a resolution to the issues that the customer is facing in a manner that satisfies them. Some suggestions to pick out the good listeners include:

  • How many times the representative interrupts the conversation
  • Whether or not they respond to all parts of a multi-part question

6. The right attitude

All of the skills that your potential hire has may be for naught if they don’t have the right attitude and mindset. Your customer support employee should be service minded, and be willing to over-deliver and go the extra mile to ensure that each and every customer that they interact with leaves the interaction satisfied. Because of the fundamental difficulty of changing a person’s attitude and mindset, it is important that your team comes into the job with the right attitude and mindset already ingrained in their personality. Some of the specific personality traits you’ll want to look for in your customer service team include:

  • Empathy – Your customer support team should be able to identify with your customer and be understanding and sympathetic of their issues.
  • Warmth – Each agent should have the ability to display a friendly and caring demeanor.
  • Conscientiousness – Your customer service employees should take pride in the minute details of taking care of the customer.
  • Passion – Your customer support staff should be genuinely excited and interested in your products and the brand that they are promoting.

Final thoughts

7. Choose for best fit, not best qualified

Many companies have the tendency to hire employees with the shiniest track records, the ones with the honor degrees and who collected a drawer full of Boy Scout badges. Don’t be that company. Hire people that fit into your company and culture. Stick to the outline of the points above, and choose someone who you think will be able to gel with your team and company as opposed to a “model” employee.

Once you’ve put the right team in place, make sure that you give them the right tools to manage your customer support the right way. Check out HappyFox Customer Support Software and learn how it can help you reduce the chaos.

If you follow these simple steps, you too can develop a team that delivers customer service excellence. Have you ever had to hire customer support assistance? What were the challenges you faced during the hiring process? Share with us in the comments section below.

Daryl George

Daryl George is a freelance writer and blogger. His areas of expertise include business blogging, inbound marketing and freelance writing. You can catch him at freelancewriterstartup.com if you'd like to know more about him.