Before repeat customers become loyal “fans,” before a local restaurant is known for outstanding customer service, even before a national retailer is hailed as a local or regional “employer of choice,” someone has made a smart hiring decision. A hiring manager spotted a sharp prospective recruit from among an inbox full of resumes. A team of managers who oversee corporate culture put in place the questions and standards that any job candidate would be asked to ferret out whether he possesses “the right stuff” to work there.
Ultimately, an offer was made to a candidate ideally suited to present the company’s character each time he interacted with a customer, coworker, or even an outsider. This self-repeating process is what transforms service representatives in brand champions, companies into best-in-class employers, and customers into loyal fans.
None of this happens by accident. In fact, smart employers sweat every detail – from candidate selection, to interview processes, to hiring protocols, and eventually, the training regimen – on the path to creating a remarkable organization. Ideally, these employees become advocates for the company and brand champions who transform every encounter into a positive experience revealed in positive comments online or on social media or repeat business.
This article is the second in a series exploring how companies must rethink the entire customer-interaction lifecycle. Last time, we introduced how every step of the employee onboarding process – from recruiting, hiring, and training, to providing them the right technology, to encouraging leadership at every level of the company – must empower every employee to “own” the process and become a customer service “champion” in the process.
It all starts with smart hiring…
- Make sure the right people find you. Finding the ideal candidate means the ideal candidate must find you. Of course, smart organizations incentivize current employees to refer ideally suited friends and family to fill openings. Learn to write Want Ads that say who you are and help the right candidates gravitate your way.
- Train hiring managers to know what to look for in an applicant. Hiring the right people is a “gut” feeling about whether that candidate will feel the customer’s need and make the customer feel appreciated in turn. When you’re hitting the open market, do you even know what you want in a candidate? What character traits define your ideal hire or future champion? It might not be a college degree or years of previous work experience. It might be that “something” – confidence, a polished approach, an air of solid presentation – that sets them apart – way apart – during the interview. Hiring managers who review resumes and correspondence must know the signs that say, “You need me on your team.”
- Seek candidates who will “own” every relationship. You know – or feel – who they are. Smart candidates understand that each customer interaction is more than a chance to right a perceived wrong or remedy a situation. It’s a chance to turn customers into fans – every time. You’ll feel it in the way they present themselves.
- Hire smart people who welcome personal transformation. Your team’s response to every customer call, email, text, or social media post must rise to the level of creating an exceptional and memorable customer experience. But it can be a moving target. Your training will help every employee evolve with a changing market – but only if they want to grow.
- Transform your organization. Needs, job markets, and candidates change. Smart companies evolve with the market around them. Become a trend watcher. To paraphrase hockey great Wayne Gretzky, become successful not by going where the market is, but where the market will be.
Hiring is a process that starts from before you ever field a resume or meet a candidate. Done well, your ideal candidate will find you. Once on board, they’ll embrace your process, mirror your ethos, and be prepared to become a “fan” or your organization and turn customers into loyal fans in return.
Sudhir Agarwal is Chief Experience Leader at C3/CustomerContactChannels, a global customer relationship management (CRM) service provider based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and in Singapore. The company operates contact centers on behalf of its Fortune 500 client base in the United States, Latin America and Asia. For more, log onto www.c3connect.com.