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Customer Service Blog

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How to hire your first customer service representative

by Alex Mercado | April 04, 2019

Your company is rapidly growing, and it is time to hire your first customer service representative; this will be the first person at your company who will be completely customer-focused. The work is challenging, and it often goes unrecognized; on the other hand, if done wrong it can deeply hurt your business, especially at an early stage.

So, how do you find and recruit the ideal candidate? Someone who will care genuinely about helping your customers and at the same time will be able to communicate their feedback effectively to your developer, sales and marketing teams.


The good news is at 5CA we have plenty of experience hiring customer service representatives so, we’ve learned a thing or two to help you make this process better.

When hiring your first customer service representative, we recommend you;

  • Determine your exact needs
  • Have a hiring plan in place
  • Put their skills to the test
  • Look for someone with the right attitude
  • Make sure they are versatile
  • Set them up for success   

DETERMINE YOUR EXACT NEEDS 

 

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Before you start posting job ads, you should determine your exact needs. Keep in mind that whoever you end up hiring will be your first customer-focused employee and possibly the person that will help build your customer service department from the ground up. That means you need someone who's not only very motivated to do the job but also has previous experience doing it.

Having someone with previous contact center experience will likely guarantee they have the necessary skills to deal with customers and handle increasing volumes. It also means they can manage their time correctly and can distribute it doing multiple tasks that benefit your company such as setting up a knowledge base.

It goes without saying that they need not only experience in customer service but also an interest or knowledge in the same industry as your company. You need someone who understands your brand and your product and can help your customers. That is why at 5CA for instance, we love hiring gamers to work for our gaming clients. Who better to help other players than a gamer? 

Think of the tasks this new employee needs to perform and create a profile with the necessary experience and competencies you would want them to have.

 

HAVE A HIRING PLAN IN PLACE

 

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Now that you have the job description, it’s time to start looking for candidates. The first step is to know how and where you will be recruiting, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Will you do the hiring process yourself or will you hire a recruitment agency to help you?
  • Are you using local job portals, a freelance platform, social media? 

The next step is to establish the stages of your recruitment process very thoroughly. You need to define all the information, tests, and interviews you will have with your applicants. Don’t be afraid to have several steps as this ultimately ensures you get the right person; on the other hand, don’t make the process overly long and complicated.

 

PUT THEIR SKILLS TO THE TEST

 

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One of the things we recommend is making sure your new customer service associate can do the job. A good way to test this is by having them work on some tickets you have received before.  

This will allow you to evaluate soft skills and language skills. Have a look at how they reply, they should answer in a way that reflects your company’s values while maintaining a positive, respectful, and empathetic attitude.

Depending on your company or your customer’s location, you might need someone who speaks a specific language. Use the Common European Framework to assess languages, someone at a C1 level should be able to provide support in that language.

 

LOOK FOR SOMEONE WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE

 

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While previous experience is necessary, beware of someone used to performing the same task over and over. This means sending the same response from a template or reading from a script, someone who is not creative or flexible when replying to support tickets.

You can evaluate this approach when they work on your test tickets, are they answering all the tickets in the same way, does their approach sound robotic, or are they able to personalize their answer? You need a critical thinker who is not only going to be handling tickets all day, but that can bring something extra to your company and your customers.

 

MAKE SURE THEY ARE VERSATILE

 

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As said before, your first customer service representative will also be the person responsible for building your customer service department. You will need someone who can adapt to different functions and activities. 

Someone that can manage their time correctly and can distribute it doing multiple tasks that benefit your company. This means not only answering tickets but also building your knowledge base and setting up the basis for your support team.

 

SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS

 

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One of the best ways to empower your first hire and your future agents is by providing them with the right tools to do their job. Even the best customer service representative will stumble if they lack the proper tools or training. 

The best tool will be the one that can cover all your needs and has the flexibility to scale up as your workload and number of agents grows. Having customer service software shouldn’t get overlooked, so make sure your new employee has the tools and equipment that they need at their disposal. 

Another aspect that should not be forgotten is training. We mentioned you need someone with previous experience; however, they still need training. Remember, they might have experience in customer service but most likely lack experience with your product and your procedures. 

If you expect your new hire to be able to help your customers set up or troubleshoot your product you need to take the time to train them. Further down the line, your knowledge base will be one of your best training tools.

Hopefully, we’ve given you a head start, and now you are better prepared to hire your first customer service associate. If you want to learn more about building support processes and procedures from the ground up, head on over to our Customer Service Basics: How-to Guide.

You might also like:

Customer Service Terms: The only glossary you will ever need

5 Key Customer Service Tips for Startups

Customer Service Advice: Making the most of your Startup's Budget

 

Alex Mercado

Alex Mercado

Alex works from Utrecht, which has been her home away from home for several years. Originally from Mexico, she enjoys creating content and listening to podcasts. In her spare time, she likes to cook Mexican food and play Mario Kart.

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