8 Interview Questions to Help You Hire for Emotional Intelligence In Customer Service Roles

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Too many hiring managers focus on candidates’ work history when filling customer service roles. They get excited when they read that the candidate has six-plus years working in customer service.

But past work in customer service is not a reliable indicator of future success in serving your customers.

To consistency deliver the best possible customer interactions, you need to hire for emotional intelligence —hiring people with empathy, friendliness, and connection, and then train those people on your systems and policies. These are the people who will do the best job for you.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to hire for emotional intelligence using eight strategic interviewing questions.

The Goal In Interviewing for Customer Service Jobs

We’ll get to the interview questions in a moment. But, for the questions to work, you have to set up the interview properly. When you interview candidates for customer service jobs, you want to get them relaxed and confident, so they can authentically communicate with you. Here are four things, precisely, for you to focus on in your interviews.

Make the Candidate Feel As Comfortable As Possible

Small talk is a fantastic way to get candidates relaxed. Talk about anything – traffic, the cup of coffee you spilled in your last meeting, or a unique piece of jewelry the person is wearing. You want candidates to relax because when people are relaxed, they are more communicative and genuine.

Get Candidates to Tell You Stories

When you ask interview questions, and I’ll give you several questions to use, encourage the person to provide you with detailed examples of how they recently handled specific situations. When candidates talk to you through stories and examples, you’ll get honest and comprehensive insight into how the person is likely to perform in a similar situation at your company.

Laying the Interview Foundation

After making a little small talk and getting your candidate relaxed, set the interview up by saying something like, “I’m going to ask you some questions and what I’m looking for is specific examples that illustrate how you have responded to specific situations in the past. I’ll be taking notes as you talk, but you keep going. Feel free to take your time and think about responses before answering the questions.”

Taking Notes

While your candidate is telling you stories of how they’ve handled specific situations in the past, you need to be taking lots of notes. I want you to jot things down so you can go back and take a close look at how all of the people you interviewed measure up to your expectations. It will be easy to forget the many examples you’ve heard during interviews, so you need to take meeting notes.

Sample Interview Questions

Continue reading “8 Interview Questions to Help You Hire for Emotional Intelligence In Customer Service Roles”

Trying to Hire Millennial Employees for Customer Service Roles? Make Sure You’ve Mastered These 3 Things First.

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One of the most significant challenges facing companies today is attracting and retaining right-fit front line customer service professionals. For sure, this is challenging, but you can find and keep good-fit employees if you know what’s important to Millennials as it relates to the job search and company culture.

Millennials now make up about 50% of the workforce. And Millennials approach jobs and careers differently from Generation X (my generation) and Baby Boomers.

When I work with companies on finding, hiring, and retaining the best customer service employees, I focus on three things.

1. Developing an attractive social presence (This is tremendously important merely to get Millennials to consider a company.)

2. Hiring for motivational fit. You want people who are motivated to deliver exceptional customer interactions, people who are the best cultural fit for your brand and your customers.

3. A solid coaching and motivation strategy. You’re going to have to coach to develop your people because this is extremely important to Millennials.

Let’s look at each of the three elements of attracting, hiring, and retaining Millennials. Continue reading “Trying to Hire Millennial Employees for Customer Service Roles? Make Sure You’ve Mastered These 3 Things First.”

3 Ideas to Help Customer Service Employees Work Through Burnout

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The twentieth of May marks 16 years that I’ve been in business for myself, doing the things I’ve dreamt about, the things I love – training, writing, designing curriculum. I love where I am and what I do; yet recently I have experienced burnout.

Guilt was my first response to burnout. How dare I feel bored, dis-interested and un-creative. So many people would be happy to be where I am; I should be grateful. I’m my own boss. A typical workday for me includes dining at a highly recommended local restaurant, perhaps a walking tour of a historic city in the south, shopping for shoes in Toronto’s fashion district or meeting beautiful spirited Native Americans in Milbank, South Dakota. All this is after a well-received training session or keynote.

I am grateful, actually, and yet, I was experiencing burnout. I wonder if your employees have ever been where I am just now emerging from – the brink of burnout. Maybe you, too, have felt un-motivated at work. I’ve addressed, really still addressing, my burnout by doing 3 things. These 3 things, I believe, can help your employees (or you), out of a rut when they feel burned out or simply un-motivated.

1. Don’t allow customer service employees to spend more than 80% of their time on the phones

Continue reading “3 Ideas to Help Customer Service Employees Work Through Burnout”

7 Ways to Motivate Customer Service Employees {63-second Video}

Now you can get even more ideas for motivating employees, specifically how to motivate employees working in customer service. View or download for my high energy video, How to Motivate Customer Service Employees. It’s loaded with practical ideas to resist burnout and fire-up customer service employees.

3 Things Being an Overwhelmed Call Center Manager Taught Me About Motivating Employees

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I was sitting at my desk looking at my Outlook calendar. Four meetings, two of them overlapping, and literally only a break of about 15 minutes for a bite to eat. On my desk, stacks of papers, notes, and folders reminded me of the two major projects I was running behind on.  And I still needed to sit down with Jim to talk about issues with his recent tone with a customer. The thing is, this day wasn’t unusual. This was pretty much everyday life for me. I was overwhelmed.

Looking at the two meetings that overlapped, I thought, “What if I sent someone to the second meeting in my place?” The second meeting was a task force to look for ways to increase customer loyalty. I needed to be there, yes, but my budget meeting took priority.

I called George into my office. George was a bright, energetic, proactive frontline customer service representative. “George, I have an opportunity for you,” I said. “ At 2:30 I have a customer loyalty task force meeting. I can’t attend due to a budget meeting and I’d like you to stand in for me.” George jumped at the chance to get out of the call center and sit in on a meeting with managers and directors.

The next day George came to my office to brief me on the meeting. He was beaming with excitement. He had so many creative ideas for how to help our company build and strengthen customer relationships. I knew he added more value to that meeting than I would have, especially given that my priority was on the budget meeting. George offered to continue going to the task force meetings in my place going forward. I didn’t even have to think about it, “Yes, George, you will be great at this!”

Delegating a meeting to an employee lightened my load and empowered him to exercise untapped skills.  Months later I could see George beginning to blossom in the areas of leadership, public speaking and championing ideas. I had truly motivated him in a very unique way. What if, I wondered, I could give all of my employees a similar experience? I began to seek out tasks for delegation, opportunities that would not only make life easier for me but would truly empower and motivate my employees. I found the opportunities and in the process, I relieved my stress and created a culture of empowered and motivated employees. Here are 3 things being an overwhelmed manager taught me about motivating my call center employees.

1. When All Else Fails, Go to Your Employees for Solutions

When I first took over the call center at this company, I inherited big problems – with everything from employee morale to delivering a quality customer experience. New to the position and still very much learning as a young manager, I really didn’t know how to tackle the myriad challenges. Fresh out of graduate school, I turned to one of my textbooks for help. In my Human Relations textbook, I found something known as the “Quality Circle.”

In a Quality Circle, managers go to employees for solutions to problems. Following the text to the letter, I assembled a group of call center employees who volunteered to be part of the quality circle. We met once weekly for about 10 weeks. The first week I put a problem on the table and said, “Here’s the deal. This is a problem that we must fix and I have no idea how to do that.  You guys are the experts. What ideas do you have?” Continue reading “3 Things Being an Overwhelmed Call Center Manager Taught Me About Motivating Employees”

I Left Post-It Notes of Praise On Each of My Employees’ Computers. Here’s What Happened Next.

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When I managed a small call center in Tulsa, I was always looking for creative ways to motivate my employees. One evening I was working late and I picked up Bob Nelson’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees book from my bookshelf. One of the tips in the book was called Post-It Note Therapy. The concept was simple. Write a note of praise on a Post-It Note for each of your employees and stick the note on their computer monitors.

So, I did it. I sat down and wrote out praise for each of my employees and I left the notes on their monitors. Then I went home.

The next morning I had an out of office meeting and I didn’t make it into the call center until early in the afternoon. The second I stepped into the call center, I felt an energetic vibe that startled me. There was movement, smiles and warmth and mostly an amazing energy. What was the deal?

After taking in the scene for a few seconds, I went to my office. I opened my door to find my computer monitor covered with Post-it Notes! Every one of my employees had written me a note of praise! I nearly cried as I read the heartfelt praise. I had forgotten about my Post-it Note Therapy from the night before. I went out into the call center and saw Post-It Notes everywhere! My employees really got into this therapy. They praised each other and even praised people in neighboring departments.

If you’re looking for a genuine, yet super easy, way to praise your employees while upping the energy in your work team, consider Bob Nelson’s Post-In Note Therapy. The investment of time is small and the rewards are potentially huge.

 

How to Motivate Customer Service Professionals (Live webinar)

April 27, 2017 – 1pm ET – 2:00pm ET

Get the webinar details here. 

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