Whether you’re a business, duo or solo-entrepreneur there comes a point in your company where customer interactions will be constant and time consuming.
You could find yourself working 9-5 responding to email. If your business is growing, imagine your customer response rate increasing 10% per week! Plus all other business matters you have running in the background.
Now is a good time to ask yourself: “Am I working in my business or on my business?”
This is a good assessment and realization of where most of your time is spent. If you find that customer interactions are taking up too much of your day, it is time to look at your first customer support rep hire.
I hear you saying already: “I can do it better than an assistant! Why should I pay them?”
Remember the goal is to free your focus, so you can carry on building your business, just as you were doing from the off. Realize that now the dynamics have changed, and so has your company size. It’s time to readjust your focus.
Let us walk you through your first customer service hire in this slide share, or read on for more details.
Pre new hire: systems, elimination and micromanaging
Evolving from “person of all operations” into a higher management style role is a practical skill that no one has detailed well.
Preparing someone to take over the support function in your business, will produce an ultra refined set of rules. The act of doing that will cut the remaining fat and redundancy from both yours and a new hire’s schedule.
This could even include ending your relationship with unsatisfied customers. Chasing up those mere five customers consuming 98% of your time via follow-up calls or emailing, can be better spent. Eliminate before you delegate.
“The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
Micromanaging interrupts workflows across businesses worldwide and is a prominent cause of frustration in the workplace. Instead you should encourage creativity and room to freely problem solve. This organizational framework will empower your support reps and increasing their job satisfaction and productivity.
Another reason to avoid micromanaging is you could become the very bottleneck in the system of quick customer resolution. Failure to delegate information and responsibility will cause your support reps to consistently need your permission to move forward with any customer interaction.
A great example of how you can take a step back while leaving your newly hired support rep empowered, is allowing them a budget to fix customer issues of say $100 per interaction. You can monitor this weekly to begin, then onto monthly and then quarterly. You’ll probably find most issues were sorted for $20 or less anyway.
Dependent on your business but here’s some examples of how this might work:
- The customer needs the product ASAP, customer support sends it with overnight shipping.
- Customer complains of tech fault in streaming media they’ve been experiencing for one week: customer support allows the following month’s subscription for free.
- Your most loyal customer has been with you for five years: customer support rep sends them a gift in the mail to thank them for business.
What to look for in a new hire: applications
You don’t want people who see customer support as an entry level job into your company before they can make their transition into their desired department. Customer support is an art, and the people you employ need to enjoy it and be passionate about it.
Finding these types of people from a CV or resume can be hard.
A good candidate will already have experience working in customer support roles, but if they don’t you should look out for volunteering experience on the resume – it means they like helping. [Side note: If you’re a support rep looking for work, remember to mention volunteer work you’ve done. It helps to show you’ve got the right attitude for a support role.]
A recent Inc. article on JetBlue, a company that built their brand around customer satisfaction, described exceptionally well why you should see customer support as such a valuable role in your company: “Having talented customer service representatives elevates your brand and supports the most powerful form of marketing: word of mouth.”
The last thing to remember, as a scaling business you want to employ somebody who can first cope as a one-man-team, then move onto training and managing others.
Your support rep should be HIRED
A recent Forbes report reveals Danny Meyer’s secrets in hiring for excellent customer service. Danny Meyer is a restaurant owner renowned for blockbuster NYC food and customer service. There’s one that particularly stands out on the list: “Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning)”
One thing to bare in mind is Danny Meyer’s employees are restaurant servers. For something more business oriented, there’s more to look for on the list.
Hiring support managers are often told to look for Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and that could make you think “Yes, of course!” the problem is it’s become a bit of a buzzword in the business world.
Google the phrase “Emotionally Intelligent”, and you’ll just find the description outlines what a smart person with empathy is. Unless you’re original theorist Daniel Goleman, or an Occupational Psychologist, there’s slim chance that you’ll know the inner workings of EQ that was intended. Something to bare in mind, there’s never been an implemented hiring framework for EQ either.
Let me introduce you to an acronym that can help. Consider these traits when looking for a new support hire:
This is so much more to support than emailing.
Think, who will be the person to inform your developers about a bug on the site? Or tell your marketing team about a broken link on your website or that your YouTube video is listed as private?
Customer support people are detailed in their approach. They get kicks from problem-solving with their intuitive mind. They love helping in a respectful and honest manner. And, they have the right amount of empathy to treasure building long-term relationships.
If the person you have in mind has this outlook in the role, then they are HIRED. Literally and figuratively too.
But remember there is so much more to do before you begin the hiring process to help your business thrive and grow. It’s up to you to set up the systems, and allow your support rep to take over and make this area their own.
“Delivering good customer service requires frontline workers to receive support from co-workers — in effect, a chain reaction of teamwork that is consistent from beginning to end. And the chain of assistance is only as strong as its weakest link.” – Richard Branson
Why not get ahead now and hire for customer service excellence?