Tips for Finding Top Customer Service Reps



True customer excellence and wow-worthy service always starts and ends with having the right customer service individuals.

A specific individual truly can make or break a single customer experience, and each individual customer experience can come together to shape how people perceive and react to your company. You won't just lose one customer over a bad experience; instead, it will become a systemic problem that will be difficult to overcome as you bleed customers left and right.

So how do you find the top talent in the customer service industry? How do you even know how to identify the top talent? These are crucial questions, and we're going to answer both in this post so that you'll know exactly how to find and attract the best talent out there, even if they don't have a ton of experience yet.

When you're looking to build your customer service team, there are certain qualities that you want to find. These traits are essential, because you need your team to have certain personality traits if you want them to be able to not only handle the job, but to do it well. They include the following:

  • Empathy. People who are empathetic are going to automatically hear what your customers are saying and genuinely want to find them a solution. They'll take your customers' problems to heart and want to fix them, and they'll want to provide the best experience possible.
  • Level-headedness and non-reactive. There's no denying that customer service teams have hard jobs; a big part of what they do is deal with frustrated and angry people. Because of this, they need to be level-headed enough to know that those angry words aren';t directed at them and how to mitigate them instead of reacting.
  • Patience. See the above point. Agents' jobs are hard, and they might even deal with the same complaint six times in a day and need to go through the same process over and over again.
  • Creativity. While having policies in place to set guidelines for your customer service team isn't a bad idea, you ultimately want representatives who can get creative and solve problems. If, for example, your hotel only has two wheelchair-accessible rooms and neither has a sleeper sofa? Instead of just telling a customer who needs it that you can't accommodate them right now, the right rep might offer solutions like adding the adjoining room with a connecting door or bringing in a cot.
  • Firmness. Even though we'd like to say that the customer is always right, we also know that this just isn't always the case. Sometimes customers need to be told no, and having reps that won't crumble under the pressure is important.

Note that people who have these qualities are inherently equipped to be strong customer service reps, even if they don't actually have any training or experience. The right personality type and great problem-solving skills aren't things that can be taught, after all, but teaching someone to resolve customer complaints for your business can be.

How to Spot Top Customer Service Talent

You know the traits that you want your customer service team to have, but how exactly can you identify them in a 20-minute interview? There are several strategies that you can use, including the following:

  • Ask them how they'd resolve a hypothetical (or real) specific customer service complaint. If they ask questions about how your company handles certain issues or if they have certain policies, that can be a good sign, because it means they're not going to go rogue. You'll also want to see how much they complain about customers being difficult, or if they're able to come up with creative solutions.
  • Ask if they'd rather have a script, general guidelines, or complete free reign. Typically finding someone who chooses the latter two is the way to go, though someone who wants general guidelines might do better with respecting company policies.
  • Engage in person. Don't be afraid to go to job fairs and look for people who are outgoing and who seem to be genuine and confident. This is a good start. You can also look for people to recruit at industry networking events or relevant conferences.
  • Look for people who are already employed. Sometimes the top talent out there has already been identified and scooped up by someone else, but that doesn't mean you can't poach them to get them over to your team. Check out LinkedIn and look for people who are already employed as customer service reps, and send out messages asking if they'd be interested in coming to work for you.
  • Advertise in unconventional ways. If your ideal employees are already working for someone else, they're not likely to be actively looking. Advertising in unconventional ways, like setting up employee referral programs from the team you already have and advertising on Facebook for jobs can work well.

You want people who are creative, so don't be afraid to get creative in your process of finding them.

Having clear policies and even detailed scripts in place aren't going to do much if you've got a grumpy representative on the other end of the line who is tired of being complained to and just wants to end the call and go home. The job is tough, and you need someone who can handle the challenges that come with it. Not everyone is cut out for it.

Investing resources in a great customer service team is important, because they will define your customer' experience. And that starts with finding the right people and training them if necessary. Don't shy away from needing to train talent; it will be one of the best investments you can make into your business; it will immediately and significantly affect the customer experience.


Jamie Lowary is channel relations manager at PATLive, a 24/7 live answering service. To stay tuned with more customer service-focused content, follow her on Twitter at @JamieNLowary.