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How To Build The Absolute Best Customer Support Team

In this article, we’ll see how you can build your own customer service dream team to constantly deliver wow service to your clients.

We have a long journey ahead of us so let’s get started, shall we!

Hire For Culture Fit And Soft Skills

When building a team, consistency is key. You need to look for amazing people who will work well together. The best way to do so is to look for people with common values

A lot of great companies do so by looking at what they call “culture fit”. Since culture is build on a number of soft skills, this is just a way to look for people with the same soft skills no matter what job they are applying to.

That’s how the best brands create consistency company wide.

This is what a culture-focused job ad looks like: an example from Buffer

I truly think we could all learn a thing or two from Buffer’s job listings.

They caught my attention when they decided to remove the word “Hacker” from their job titles.

Why did they do that? In an effort to be more inclusive and encourage more women to apply.

This just goes to show how important their Jobs page is!

But, back to our topic.
How did they build culture oriented job descriptions?

Here’s what you get when you reach the bottom of the job listing for the “Happiness Hero” position.

Buffer customer service team job ad for culture fit

Yes! A bunch of really specific questions that don’t have much to do with hard skills but everything to do with Buffer’s culture.

Of course, this is just the first step, but it allows them to weed out applicants who are clearly not a good culture fit.

customer service team buzzword job title

Some good guidelines to build better job ads are:

  • Drop the buzzwords (I know Buffer’s job titles are a bit Buzzwordy but they fit perfectly into their culture)
  • Don’t oversell the job
  • Focus on 4-5 culture traits that are unique to your company
  • Give concrete examples of what you are looking for (instead of asking for leadership skills, explain in which situation the person would need to be a leader: motivation a team, taking hard decisions…)
  • Introduce your company values at the beginning

Try conducting competency-based interviews

The problem with run-of-the-mill job interviews is that you learn a lot about the ability the candidate has to sell him or herself but very little about who they really are.

First, what do I mean by competency-based interview?

To put it simply, it is an interview meant to evaluate candidates based on a few selected key competencies needed for the job (teamwork, communication, problem-solving, etc.).

Instead of just asking candidates to explain why they think they have the necessary skills, you should ask them to provide examples from their previous experiences.

Core Competencies Job Interview

The idea behind competency or behavioral based interviews is that asking about your past behavior is a good way to predict how you will react and behave in the future.

Here are few examples of competency-based interview questions you could use to hire the next member of your customer service team:

  • “Tell me about a time when you have had to modify yourself (or a way you do something) to take into account someone else’s views.”
  • “Describe a situation where you inspired others to meet a common goal.”
  • “Give an example of when you’ve overcome a problem at work.”
  • “Tell me about a time you had to deal with an irate customer.”
replying to competency-based interview questions with the STAR method

You can find more explanations and example of questions on WikiJob.

The idea is not to get the perfect answer but to see how candidates react, and what their thought process is as well as to see if they managed to learn from their mistakes.

Help candidates prepare beforehand

Let’s be honest, some interviews look like they are built to trap candidates with weird questions and see them lose it.

What good does this do?

weird and unproductive interview questions

The best way to find your next customer support hero is not to torture candidates until you find one that’s more resistant than the others.
Give applicants a chance to prepare before the interview.

Tell them where they can find resources about the company, tell them a bit more about your hiring process and tell them what key skills you are looking for.

Just remember, the goal is to find someone who’s a great fit for the position and for your company.

Remote Customer Service Crew Versus Having Employees Work From Your Office

The choice mainly depends on how your company operates.

If all current employees work from the same office, you’ll want to have customer service employees do the same. If you are a remote team, then you can look for remote customer service employees.

My main advice would be to not treat your customer service employees any differently than other employees. They’ll be working hand in hand with other departments in your company so you want them to be part of the team.

How to hire customer service employees for a remote team?

advantages of remote customer service team

There are some huge advantages that come with a remote team, especially in customer service.

Think about it, having remote customer service crew members means that you could offer support around the clock without having anyone working at night. Being able to hire around the world can also allow you to build an international team to offer support in different languages.

If these are requirements for your business, you should really consider looking for remote employees from the beginning.

Back to the main question, here are few websites that specialize in remote jobs:

Skip The Drive. Mainly US focused but a large variety of jobs in customer service

We Work Remotely. Perfect for startups looking for remote workers

Working Nomads. Mostly development jobs but still worth a look for tech startups

Remote OK. My favorite website by far, a large selection of jobs from well established startups

You could also take a look at more traditional freelance websites like SkillbridgeUpwork (formerly oDesk) or Elance.

How about building a customer service team in house?

Advantages of in-house customer service team

We wanted to have everyone work from the office from the very beginning.
This means out pool of applicants is a lot smaller than a remote company but it is easier to drive collaboration between different teams in the company.

The main problem is to find people who can thrive in a startup environment.
Regular job ads can work but they aren’t the optimal solution.

So what else is out there?

Local Facebook Groups – We have a lot of local Facebook groups serving as job boards in the US (startup jobs, social marketing jobs…). It can be a good way to find more tech-savvy people.

Employee referral – This also works for remote teams and is by far the most effective way to find new employees that will fit in well within your company culture

Linkedin – The network is perfect to proactively hire new employees. Since you can easily filter your research by location, it makes it a great solution to hire for your office.

What Makes Up A Good Customer Service Team?

While you can easily tell if a developer is good looking at technical skills, this is impossible to do with customer service hires.

We’ve seen how the competency-based interview model can help you evaluate key competency.
But what kind of key competencies should you be looking for in the first place?

In this infographic, Customer Service Heroes lists 25 skills you need to deliver excellent customer service.

essential customer service skills to have to build a good crew

Here are the skills we consider essential at CustomerIcare.

Number 1 skill: creative problem solving

I am always surprised whenever I see a customer service job ad that doesn’t mention problem solving at all.

After all, solving problems is what customer service is all about. Customers come to you with an issue or a question and you need to bring them a solution or an answer.

Quite straight forward right?

Well, not really.

If you’ve spent at least few days working with customers you probably noticed there are lots of questions or issues that don’t have a straight-forward answer. That’s when a little creativity is needed and this is what eventually makes the difference between a good customer service employee and an amazing one.

The obvious: Communication skills

That’s a rather large spectrum of skills, I’ll admit that.

Here’s what I mean by “communication skills”:
– active listening skills
– ability to adapt language depending on who you are talking to
– use of positive language
– ability to translate a complex idea into simple words

This is something that is really hard to assess just looking at a resume.

There are few easy ways you can test a potential hire for communication skills though:
– look at how they communicate with you before, during and after the interview
– try conducting an interview using your main customer service channel (phone, live chat, email)
– ask them about their past experience with customers
– give them a practical use case to solve (eg. “Can you explain how a live chat software works to your grandmother”)

Team work and leadership skills

Teamwork is often mentioned as one of the most important aspects of customer service.
I agree. Even if you only have 1 customer service employee.

The job of the customer service team goes way beyond just solving customers’ problems on a case by case basis. They are the only ones who have direct access to customer feedback and that’s one of the most valuable piece of information in any company.

Good customer service employees won’t solely focus on solving problems, they will look for ways to prevent problems from happening again.
For that, they need to work closely with other teams in the company and that’s where team work comes into play.

Your turn to speak up!

Our team is growing and we are still learning a lot about hiring.
I’d love to hear from you about your experience building a team of customer service heros. Where did you find new employees? What skills are you looking for?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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