Workforce Management & Optimization

Hiring the Best First-Year Customer Service Agents

Hiring first-year customer service agents is a great way to expand your team affordably. Here’s how to find the right agents for your needs.

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As companies add more support channels and deal with higher volumes of customer service, they need a larger number of customer support agents. For many organizations, that means adding to tier-one customer support with early career agents. Yet knowing what to look for when adding to the junior tier of your support staff can be a challenge. Here’s a quick guide.

They’re tech-savvy: Customer service relies on technology now more than ever before. From the ability to quickly access a customer relationship management (CRM) system to finding information in a knowledge base, technical ability can make or break early customer service success. Hiring candidates who are comfortable with a range of different platforms also makes it easier to offer multichannel customer support.

They’re passionate about your brand: If you can find customer service reps who understand your brand and your products, they’ll do a better job helping deliver excellent customer service. One head of customer service for a sneaker company looked for new employees who loved the product. “Basic skills can be taught,” she said. “Passion cannot.” You can also look for people who are interested in your industry or have a general passion for learning about business as well.

They’ve got great people skills: Soft skills are absolutely critical in customer service. From the ability to build a rapport to the kind of intuitive approach to interactions that help de-escalate an angry call, hiring candidates with strong people skills helps provide you with a trainable foundation. Evaluate candidates for how they present during interviews; how they make connections with different interviewers; and whether they stay warm, approachable, and professional throughout the process.

They’ve got strong communication skills: Customer service is all about the give and take of great communication. From excellent listening skills to the ability to stay eloquent under pressure, strong communication skills can help an agent in training thrive. Test these skills by running mock role-play sessions, asking probing questions, and listening for how candidates communicate ideas on a variety of topics.

Hiring first-year customer service talent can be a challenge, and taking the time to develop a strong talent pipeline at this level can pay dividends. Over time, these junior team members can play critical roles in filling staffing needs, rising up the ladder within your department and bringing a highly focused customer service perspective to other parts of your organization.