Hiring an outstanding customer service team is the first step to providing legendary customer service.  However, the hiring process is also one of the most challenging aspects of business.  Here are 5 characteristics to look for when meeting with your candidates.
1. Friendly

It might go without saying, but a customer service representative should be friendly, first and foremost.  He will be subjected to a variety of personalities on a daily basis and the friendlier the rep is to begin with, the easier it will be for him to build rapport with customers.  Look for candidates who feel approachable and charismatic and immediately eliminate anyone you wouldn’t want as a seat mate on a flight.  Then go one step further and ask for an example of a difficult time when they were able to maintain their composure and continue to be friendly.  Look for the candidates that can easily present examples.

2. Good with Details

Being a customer service representative requires one to be able to recall a vast amount of knowledge about the company and its products in order to quickly and simply address customers’ needs.  Ask candidates open ended questions about themselves and their past experience.  Look for the candidates that provide meaningful answers with good detail.  The way in which the candidates relay information about themselves to you is indicative of how they will relay information about your company and products to your customers.

“Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.” –Albert Einstein

3. Entertaining and Creative

The day to day job of customer service is often repetitive.  Because of this, many representatives experience burnout.  When interviewing candidates, ask them about how they keep themselves entertained when they’re bored.  What do they do while waiting at the DMV?  How do they pass the time during a blackout?  Look for candidates who are amusing or stand out as especially resilient to boredom in order to find representatives that won’t wilt under the daily grind that a call center can sometimes be.

4. Ability to Communicate

It’s a fairly obvious quality, but the ability to communicate well does not just mean that a representative has the ability to speak well.  Perhaps more importantly, it also means that he or she has the ability to listen well.  One of the chief complaints of customers regarding the service they receive is that representatives only answer part of their questions or do not actually answer their exact questions.  Part of this may be due to representative burn out, but is also due in part to representatives who are innately poor listeners.  Look for candidates who thoughtfully consider your questions and answer directly and pass by those who speak over you in order to answer quickly or give broad answers that only partially address your questions.

5. Calm

Being faced with a multitude of customer wants, needs, and complaints every day can begin to wear down a representative.  An innately calm demeanor is a necessity for a candidate to be a good fit for a customer service position.  Look for candidates with comfortable body language and a calm demeanor.  Ask questions about real life examples of being calm under pressure and pose a few “how would you handle ____?” in order to get a feel for someone’s ability to think clearly and act calmly when all is not going well.

If you can find candidates with the above qualities, you will be well on your way to building a wonderful, customer-centric brand and culture.