Some people are better than other people, especially at service, and some people are incredibly better than other people: it’s your job to find them, recruit them, train them, and keep them. Here are some tips on how to do it.
Last month we looked at the starting position for a new approach to maximising service quality by selecting the Top 10 Customer Service Strategies. Now let’s spend the next few months looking at specific issues that support this overall strategy. As the most important issue by far in all successful organisations is people, recruitment is where it starts.
The first point to make is that, in many organisations, there may well now be a period of reducing staff levels, rather than increasing them. But this should not be seen to be a reason to put off the whole issue of improving standards and recruiting talent – far from it. At times of redundancy, it is common for the better people to leave organisations and the poorer to stay.
So, some useful tips:
Don’t just throw the issue at HR department
If you need new people, take personal responsibility for identifying job specifications, making it clear what you want, getting involved in recruitment, and especially in interviewing. Your most important role in the organisation, as a manager or supervisor, is to maximise the potential and performance of your people, motivate, and keep them. You shouldn’t delegate this to a third party, however good administratively your HR department is. And if they are one of those HR departments that think they DO have this responsibility, put them right – quickly.
Hire for attitude, train for skills
There are no 16-year-old airline pilots or brain surgeons around, so if those skills can be trained, so can those needed for call centres, retail or local government. But if the interviewees don’t have the right attitude you’ll never train them into getting it.
Ask the right interview questions
At interviews, ask questions that determine attitudes, not skills. What the person did before may well be irrelevant, whilst what they think of great/poor service and whether they know what it looks like – that’s what you really need to know.
Brainstorm a series of questions that will highlight these traits and you’ll get to know the person’s real qualities.
Make sure people will fit your culture
Make sure they fit YOUR culture, not one size fits all. Organisations can have cultures ranging from wacky to weird and stuffy to formal. You need to know what yours is (none of them are necessarily right/wrong) and then recruit to that template, always allowing for a bit of free thought around the edges.
Trust and utilise your people
If you have an organisation with a great reputation, brand or working environment, there is every chance that your staff will be proud to be working there, highly motivated, and supportive. Therefore they can be one of your best assets in recruiting new people. Recommendation schemes DO work, as I have seen when judging things like the Contact Centre Awards, as staff don’t put poor people forward for recommendation.
Talk career, not job
Even the most basic of jobs could lead to something, and identifying potential is critical to future success. Interviewees want to hear that you will value, train, and develop them, and if they don’t, you probably shouldn’t be hiring them.
Next time, we look at what works once the new staff are on board…
Paul Cooper is a Director at Customer Plus
Paul won the Lifetime Achievement award at the European Call Centre Awards 2011.