How To Hire Great Customer Service Employees


26 Jul, 2015

The most important people in any business are not the CEO and management team, but the frontline customer service staff. These often lowly paid workers are the ones who create the memorable moments with your customers. Ideally, you want them to create positive memorable moments and not negative ones.

Personal Responsibility

If the words, “that is not my job or not my area” leave their lips at any point, they are not the people you are looking for. The best customer service team accept personal responsibility for resolving issues and building a great team.

High Initiative

They need to see a problem and be able to work out what they can do to fix it without waiting for 10 levels of approval.

Understanding of Internal Politics 

High initiative needs to be counterbalanced with an understanding of which egos need to be stroked and what the broader rules are. You are looking for high initiative within boundaries.

Solid Grasp on English – Both Written and Spoken

If customers are already upset when they contact your customer service staff and then can’t make themselves understood by your team, or can’t understand what the person is saying – then you are adding fuel to the fire. You need to be conscious of this and either have rapid escalation processes in place if this starts to happen or ensure your hiring practices deal with this issue.


Your team must be able to understand and empathise with the feelings of the person – not just be cold and logical. Unless the emotions are appropriately dealt with, the underpinning issue will not be seen to successfully resolved.


Problems need to be resolved today and not tomorrow. How fast do people tackle the hard issues? Do they leave the ticket open or do they take action to solve the problem?

Resilience & Confidence

Your team will face a bit of flak at times. How resilient are they in the face of negative approaches? How confidently can they present the solutions?

You can assess these factors through effective interview questioning techniques as well as through their application and reference checking.

Build these into your next selection process and you should get some real winners.

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Ingrid: Lead Author, Australian Employee Manual

HR Author and Lecturer with over 25 years' experience in human resources and workplace relations in Australia. Lead Author of Instant HR Policies & Procedures, NDIS Direct Employment HR Manual, and Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates and Tactics.

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