Customer Experience News & Trends

Hire people customers will love: 4 proven tactics

Good customers like your products and services. Better customers like your company. But the best, most loyal customers love your people. Do you hire people your customers will love?

You can improve the customer experience and build loyalty by hiring and training more people who simply “click” with your kinds of customers.

Here’s proven help:

1. Find the right fit

The first critical factor is finding right-fit employees — people who have interpersonal skills, plus an honest interest in and concern for customers. That can be difficult when so many applications and resumes come in with the words you want to see — “team player,” “flexible,” “fast learner,” “energetic” and “creative.”

You can identify good culture fits, even during short interviews, by asking questions that focus on how people perform, not just what they’ve done, according to Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson, authors of Stop Spending, Start Managing: Strategies to Transform Wasteful Habits.

They recommend you:

  • Focus on behaviors, not traits. Ask, “What are three things you are most proud of in the last six months?” Listen for references to colleagues and bosses, and what they did as part of a successful group. If they put all emphasis on themselves, they might not be a team player.
  • Look for learners. Say, “Tell me about a failure” to see if they identify factors they could change and control in the future. Those are signs of effective reflection and an ability to learn from mistakes.
  • Identify conflict management skills. Say, “Tell me about your least preferred co-worker” to hear how they deal with conflict – and if they recognize how to work around it for the greater good.
  • Watch the non-verbals, too. Candidates are on their best behavior, and might say all the right things. But you still can detect some warning signs in body language. A few warning signs of someone who might not be as sincere as he or she sounds: maintaining eye contact when speaking, but not when listening; invading other people’s space; eye rolling when talking about former bosses, colleagues or duties; and sneering disguised as a smile.

2. Let new hires walk in customers’ shoes

New customer-facing employees can connect more easily with customers if they experience what customers do. Many major hotel chains have all employees stay as guests on their properties so they know what it’s like — and they can identify with customers’ experiences and feelings.

At Missouri Quilt, all new employees spend the first six weeks learning how to make a quilt from start to finish. This isn’t because they need to be quilters to manufacture, service or market their products. It’s because they need to understand their customers — dedicated quilters — and their hobby. So they learn the art of picking and working with materials, the frustrations of setbacks and eventually the success of creating a quilt.

That makes them prepared to empathize with customers when they need help, information and even just an ear to hear their frustrations.

3. Get everyone to support customers

Many companies and their new employees consider customer service a stepping stone to a different job. Perhaps it should be the cornerstone of every job.

That’s what they believe at Tuft and Needle. All new employees start in customer support, so they’re immediately exposed to customers’ pain points and pleasures. New hires even get to see and participate in product — i.e., mattress — production. That way, they’re familiar with what goes on behind the scenes and can use that knowledge to better help customers and eventually do their specific jobs.

The customer-first approach helps all employees keep customers in their minds even when they’re fully transitioned into their real jobs.

4. Use the product, answer the questions

The more new hires interact with the products and services customers actually use, the better they’re equipped to talk to customers on a personal level. They share a common bond as users of the same product or service.

That’s why members of the support team are encouraged to use their product as much as possible to get familiar with it.

It’s also part of their “homework.” It’s a 10-day set of emails with exercises so they get better at answering customers’ questions.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.