While your company might focus on filling executive leadership positions, it’s hard to deny that the employees on the frontlines – specifically in customer-facing positions – are most valuable to your organization. If you aren’t prioritizing these folks, something needs to change soon.
The Role of Customer-Facing Employees
'Hiring for external-facing roles within your company is both remarkably important, and incredibly difficult,' admits Sam Kusinitz of HubSpot. 'The people who you hire for roles like support, customer service, and sales will be the face of your brand, as they are the ones who will be interacting with your customers and clients on a daily basis.'
Research suggests what Kusinitz is saying is true. According to this infographic from Zendesk, 75% of consumers say they’ve given companies more business because of a history of quality customer service experiences. And more than half of customers say they’re willing to spend more with companies that provide 'excellent' customer service.
Those are pretty significant takeaways. Customers obviously correlate employee attitudes and actions with the brand and let past interactions drive future behaviors. Thus, a single positive or negative action could attract repeat business or drive customers away indefinitely. Keep this in mind the next time a customer-facing position opens up.
How to Make Successful Hires
Clearly, who you hire for your company’s customer-facing positions matters more than most realize. It isn’t as simple as combing through a few applicants and picking someone who you think could be successful. You need to dig in and meticulously review the details so that you can find an individual who will represent your brand well.
In order to do so, you’ll want to think about the following.
Speed, efficiency, and quick problem solving are paramount to customer service success. With that being said, one of the more underrated factors involved in customer-facing positions is resourcefulness. As ResortsandLodges.com’s Ryan Bailey mentions, '[Resourceful employees] don’t wait for other people to give them answers or solve their problems for them. They are creative when it comes to finding solutions.'
You don’t want employees going rogue and doing their own thing, but there’s definitely something to be said for independence and constructive problem-solving. It’ll save both the company and the customer considerable time and frustration.
2. Intuition and 'Street Smarts'
You’ve heard the old business mantra that says the customer is always right. This obviously isn’t true. Business owners and managers just say it to express that customers are important and should be treated as such.
When it comes to hiring for customer-facing positions, you need employees who won’t get taken advantage of. They need the intuition to know when a customer is wrong; they need the poise to deal with these situations appropriately.
3. Performance Skills
'Service is not like a manufactured good. It can’t be made ahead of time and put on the shelf,' HR pro Sandy Sykora explains. 'It happens in the moment, as needed, and it’s all about performance.'
This is one of the more difficult aspects of hiring people in customer-facing positions. You need individuals who are not only smart and talented, but they also have to be able to put on world-class performances. If a customer is screaming at them, they have to push down their own anger and deliver calm responses. If a customer is deceitful, the employee has to strategically uncover the lie without being accusatory. This takes skill – performance skills, to be exact.
Customers really aren’t that difficult to figure out. They’re each different in certain ways, but all possess the same basic needs and desires. According to the Zendesk infographic, 92% of customers just want to be treated with dignity. Three out of four customers want assurance that their problems will not be repeated in the future.
If you can hire people who are respectful, treat customers with dignity, and reassure them that their concerns are being dealt with, you’re well ahead of the game. There are other issues you’ll have to work through, but this gives you a sizeable head start.
This should go without saying, but make sure you’re hiring people who are genuinely friendly. As a rule of thumb, never hire someone in a customer-facing position that you wouldn’t want to spend an hour with at lunch.
Do Your Brand a Favor
Branding is already super challenging as is. There are so many controllable and uncontrollable factors in play and the last thing you want to do is make it harder on yourself to showcase your company in a positive light.
Thankfully, you can do your brand a favor by hiring the right people for customer-facing positions. In doing so, you’ll provide your brand with a much-needed boost and strengthen/repair relationships with customers for the future.