Top Customer Service Strategies – No.1 Recruit and Train the Right People


This article focuses on recruiting and training the right customer service people. It is the first strategy presented in our article: The Top 10 Customer Service Strategies

The late, great customer service and contact expert Paul Cooper wrote this article for us and his thoughts have really stood the test if time.

Why Is Contact Centre Recruitment so Important?

Some people are better than other people at customer service, and some people are incredibly better than other people…

Some people are better than other people at customer service, and some people are incredibly better than other people: it’s your job to find them, recruit them, train them, and keep them.

While, in many organisations, there may  be a period of reducing staff levels, rather than increasing them, this should not be seen to be a reason to put off the whole issue of improving standards and recruiting talent – far from it.

Even at times of redundancy, it is common for the better people to leave organisations and the poorer to stay. Recruitment will, therefore, always be a key component of a customer service operation.

With this in mind, here are some tips on how to do it.

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.

For more on the skills that you need to have as a contact centre leader, read our article: 10 Essential Skills for Every Contact Centre Manager

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, while 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.

Find examples of the different types of contact centre cultures in our article: What Is the Best Model for Contact Centre Culture?

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 various contact centre awards, as staff don’t put poor people forward for recommendation.

Talk Career, Not Job

Paul Cooper

Paul Cooper

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.

This article was written for us by Paul Cooper a valued and not-forgotten member of customer service and contact centre industries.

Read the next three articles in the series by following any of the links below:

Author: Jo Robinson

Published On: 13th Mar 2012 - Last modified: 25th Mar 2020
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , ,

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1 Comment
  • Dear Mr Cooper,

    Your comments are spot on & within our company we ensure that Customer Service is at the heart of everything we do – thank you!

    Julie Turley 16 Mar at 22:51