Monday, September 5, 2011

How to hire good customer service staff for your small business

If you have staff working for you in your small business, then you will know that the image of your business is in their hands. If they are not seen by your customers as friendly, or reliable or efficient - then your business will suffer.

But you probably already realise that hiring good people is not easy ......sometimes you have good people who just don't perform well in the interview - and not-so-good people who present fantastic at the interview.

Sure, you have a probation period in which to try them out. But a poor recruitment decision can still cost your business, if even for a short period of time you have had someone working forr you who was unsuited to a customer service role.

Here is a great short clip that I believe offers some good advice on how to hire the right customer service person for your small business ...

Desired qualities

So what are the qualities you might want to assess applicant's against, to help determine their suitability for a customer service role? A few characteristics might include ...
1. Initiative and a willingness to go the extra step for customers
2. Good interpersonal skills and a friendly disposition
3. Reliablity and good work ethic
4. Ability to plan and organise their work, completing allocated tasks on time
5. Proven ability to learn computer systems (depending on the complxity of any systems your small business uses)

Interview tips

So, when conducting the interview with applicant's for the job, remember
i) Use the same set of job-related criteria or characteristics to rate each applicant, to ensure you are using a consistent approach (and therefore avoiding grounds for discrimmination)
ii) Prepare a core set of questions you will ask each person, and be willing to probe their responses (ie. don't settle for superficial answers)
iii) You might also include a small role play, to see how they might handle a customer complaint for example
iv) Do proper referee checks - and make sure you understand the relationship the person has with their referees (ie. did the referee supervise the person, did they work with the person, or are they simply a friend)
v) Many small business owners now-days place more emphasis upon whether an applicant has the right attitude - believing that a skills gap can be corrected through training, however attitude is not easily changed

Also, some great advice can be found at How To Conduct the Job Interview