Leadership & Agent Management

Five Questions to Ask When Vetting New Customer Service Agents

Making new hires—particularly in the middle of a global pandemic—isn’t easy. You know that your customer service agents need to wear a lot of different hats while serving a wide variety of clients. They help with the ongoing growth of your company by making sure customers are satisfied and turning them from one-time buyers into repeat clients. A company can live or die by its customer service.

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This connection between you and your customer base is incredibly valuable, and that means that you can’t put just anybody in that position. You want to find the cream of the crop in terms of applicants and vet any of your potential agents well. But when it comes to interviewing potential customer service agents, how can you ask the right questions to ensure you’re employing the best agents possible? Here are five questions you need to ask during your potential employee’s interview.

What Is Your Personal Definition of Service?

It’s important that customer service agents truly understand the meaning of the word service vs. the idea of simple support. By asking this question, you’ll understand how the interviewee values service and comprehends the job at hand. For instance, if their answer is something as bland as helping a customer get a question answered, it may show that he or she doesn’t have the creative thinking required for the job or the passion to truly help customers feel known and valued. Your customers are the most important people in your business—you want people who are eager to make them feel important. If a customer service agent doesn’t know that that’s the job they need to be doing, it may be a red flag. Yes, you can train people up, but it’s nice to have some kind of baseline understanding of what service is really all about.

How Do You Keep Yourself Motivated When People Are Rude to You?

During every customer service agent’s career, they’re going to have an occasion where a customer is rude to them. It’s simply unavoidable. That’s why it’s so important to know how your agents will respond when people are rude to them. Also, it’s not only how they respond—it’s about how they shake it off and move forward. A solid customer service representative shouldn’t treat the next customer in a way that’s frustrated or stressed; they need to be able to set one customer’s issues aside mentally in order to move onto the next client in line. Figuring out what keeps a person motivated is an essential piece to the puzzle of how they’re going to do so. Do they focus on the task at hand? Do they take mini breaks between each call? Do they write it down so they can follow up later? Figure out this particular person’s method for staying focused and on the ball in order to best serve your customers.

What Do You Do When You Need to Cool Off?

You may think the answer you’re looking for is Nothing—I don’t ever need to cool off! But the truth is, all customer service employees will get worked up from an angry customer call from time to time. You need to find out what their plan of action is when they feel as if they’re going to scream! If someone tries to act as if they never get worked up and never need to cool off, that’s actually a person you want to avoid. They aren’t willing to be honest—either with you or with themselves—and that isn’t the energy you want on your customer service team. Every representative worth his or her salt knows that the time is going to come when frustration threatens to get the better of them. It’s much better to have a plan than to pretend that never happens, so asking this question now can ward off issues or complications in the long run.

What Drew You To This Position?

This is a common question asked in the vast majority of job interviews, but for customer service, it takes on a bit of a special hat. Why is this person in customer service? It certainly isn’t a glamorous industry—it’s often behind-the-scenes, with little to no recognition, and can involve being berated or angrily dismissed. Why is this person interested in customer service? What drew him or her into the idea of helping other people? You can learn a lot about applicants simply by asking this easy question. This is also going to be a way to sniff out someone’s creativity. Obviously, someone who just awkwardly answers that they needed the money isn’t going to be a good fit. Customer service representatives aren’t just there to support the customer; they’re also one of your best sales tools. An unhappy customer can either demand a refund or remain a client based on how well a customer service call goes. If they can’t sell themselves on the job, will they be able to sell your product or service to your customer?

What’s the Best Customer Service You’ve Ever Received? 

A really solid customer service agent will have had customer service experiences on their own that have built them up and made them want to excel in the industry. This question can also help you further identify what constitutes “good” customer service to someone. Maybe the applicant will share that they once received a new product only 24 hours after they called and requested one. That will show you that they value speed and don’t like to waste time. Or maybe an applicant will offer up a story about a time they called in very frustrated and a customer service agent was able to help calm them down. That will show how much they value a calm, cool, collected interaction. These are important things for you to know as the leader of the team—what’s important to your teammates? And how can you encourage them to bring those things forth within their jobs?