ARTICLE – The Customer Service Perspective

gi fridaySo how do you hire those great agents that will turn your call centre around and produce demonstrable improvements to customer experience? Marginal gains is the buzzword in sport right now: a skin-tight vest shaves off a few thousandths of a second, a lighter bike increases speed and reduces drag. Small amendments in themselves, but combining to make a significant difference. So if this concept works for sports, why not apply them in your interviews? They may help you identify the correct candidates and steer you away from copy/ paste answers to copy/paste interview questions. Here are five examples of marginal gains that can help you:

Be Prepared
It’s a busy day and HR walks through the door with an unannounced interviewee. It happens, but, being the consummate professional – despite the evidence, the directors still believe this about you – you’re prepared for this unforeseen event. Or at least you appear to be, and that’s what matters. Your interview question sheets are pre-printed, your team leader is on hand and you have working pen. Remember also that the nature of the candidate’s arrival in the above scenario is not necessarily their fault. Greet them politely, thank them for coming, offer them a drink of water. This first impression is vital in keeping or losing potential agents.

Strength in Numbers
Never interview alone. Regardless of how professional you are, you may be swayed by a candidate’s sporting preferences, their dress sense or small tattoo. You may miss certain traits or phrases as you’re making notes, or misunderstand a perfectly acceptable answer. Two people are better (hence the team leader), but three is great.

An Agent’s Thanks
Consider inviting a customer service agent to the interview. After all, they are actually doing the job and, no matter how ‘hands-on’ you are, they know the minutiae of the role better than you. You also display your trust in the judgement of an existing employee and, from her perspective, rescue her from 20 minutes of dealing with irate customers.

Left Field Questions
Include the obligatory “do you have any hobbies?” question if you must, but throw in a curve-ball too, something non-standard that makes them sit up, pulls them out of their interview comfort zone and makes them think. I’ll share my personal favourite with you: “Given the choice, would you prefer to live in New York or Venice?” Surprisingly, I’ve had confident candidates stutter and stammer, actually calling this a hard question. Conversely, I’ve seen timid applicants’ eyes light up as they enthuse about their preferred location. So what does this question tell us? Will the Venice candidate be too quiet and easily upset by aggressive callers, or will they be more reliable because they eschew the lights and seduction of the big city for the calming contentment of the canals? Their reaction to the question matters as much as their answer. Customer service is not a series of well delivered, linear questions from customers, but a rapid attack of disassociated queries, complaints and demands. The ability to seamlessly jump from one topic to another, after standard questions like “tell us about yourself” and “have you used your German in a professional capacity?”, is vital for a great agent. With this question, you may glimpse a candidate’s capacity to deal with such situations.

Filling from Need
No matter the need, or the pressure from above, never employ unsuitable applicants just because you desperately require a particular skill-set – it will cost you dearly in the long run. Being in such demand, they may become inattentive full of self-importance and start ignoring basic procedures.

PUBLICATION: GI FRIDAY
TITLE: The Customer Service Perspective
DESCRIPTION: Gaming article about marginal gains in Customer Service Interviews

David Chandler’s background as an illusionist is perhaps unique in the gaming world, but as a Supervisor with Ladbrokes International, Training Manager for 888.com and now, as Head of Customer Experience with BetConstruct, inclusion and entertainment have always played a key role in the education and development of his Customer Service teams.

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