How to hire top customer service agents – the easy way

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How to hire top customer service agents – the easy way

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Customer service agents represent your company and help build its image, which means that hiring the right people for customer service roles is crucial for your success as a business. 

But how do you make sure your customer service representatives have the right skills for the role?

How do you evaluate their qualifications and experience objectively? How do you make sure you’re making the right choices, especially if you’re pressed for time?

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to address all these challenges: skills assessments. 

Skills assessments enable you to evaluate applicants’ qualities quickly, accurately, and without bias.

Using the right skills tests (such as TestGorilla’s Zendesk CS test) not only speeds up the hiring process significantly but also improves the overall quality of hire. It’s a win-win, right?

In this article, we’ll look into the key responsibilities of customer service agents and guide you through the process of hiring the right talent for your customer service team.

Let’s dive in.

What are the key responsibilities of customer service agents?

Customer service agents are often your customers’ first point of contact with your organization, whether on your website or in your brick-and-mortar store.

customer service agent definition

For this reason, the way they handle customer queries shapes the way your customers perceive your business and has a large impact on whether they’ll become repeat customers and even brand ambassadors. 

Otherwise said, customer lifetime value, churn rates, and overall customer satisfaction are often closely related to your customer service agents’ performance. If your customer service is not on par with customers’ expectations, you risk repelling instead of attracting them. 

So, the main responsibility of customer service specialists is to ensure that customers are satisfied with their purchases and the services they receive.

What are the day-to-day responsibilities and tasks of customer service agents? The list is long: 

  • Respond to customer inquiries and provide detailed, up-to-date information
  • Maintain the product knowledge needed to serve customers effectively
  • Handle customer requests and complaints during the first contact whenever possible
  • Troubleshoot issues by guiding customers through the necessary steps
  • Explain features, characteristics, and issues in simple terms 
  • Make sure customers have sufficient information to make full use of the product or service
  • Escalate issues to other departments or a manager when necessary
  • Collect and act on feedback from customers
  • Use different support tools and help-desk software, such as Zendesk Customer Service (Zendesk CS)
  • Complete reports about their work 
  • Participate in team meetings and discussions

How to hire skilled customer service agents for your business: a step-by-step guide

In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of hiring the best customer service representatives for your organization.

As you’ll see, if you choose the right approach, recruitment doesn’t need to take ages – on the contrary, it can be a fast and efficient process that’s also accurate and bias-free.

How to hire skilled customer service agents for your business in 10 steps

Step 1: Define the skills of your ideal customer service agent 

A customer service agent’s role clearly requires a broader skill set than simply answering the phone or closing tickets.

The skills your ideal candidate needs depend on your business, but there are a few essential skills every customer service agent should have. It’s critical to assess these skills during the recruitment process. 

Here are some examples, along with links to the tests you can use to evaluate those skills: 

5 skills for customer service agents

  • Customer service
  • Communication 
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of software tools such as Zendesk CS or HubSpot CRM

Step 2: Create a skills assessment 

Based on the customer service representative skills you defined in step 1, you can now start building your skills assessment. 

At TestGorilla, you can combine up to five tests in a single assessment, so include tests that assess the most important skills you need your applicants to have. 

Step 3: Write a job advertisement and post it on job boards

Next, you need to write your job ad and post it on relevant job boards. Outline the tasks and responsibilities of the role, the required skills, and qualifications, and the benefits and salary range applicants can expect.

Be realistic with your requirements – though it would be nice if all applicants had a few years of experience, do you need to automatically disqualify inexperienced but highly motivated candidates who meet all the other criteria?

Step 4: Invite applicants to take your skills assessment

Once you’ve started collecting applications, you can invite candidates to take your skills assessment. Provide applicants with enough information about your hiring process to maintain a high level of candidate engagement and provide a positive candidate experience.

TestGorilla has plenty of applicant tracking system (ATS) integrations available, and we’re constantly adding new ones. So if you’re using an ATS to manage your recruitment process, you can simply connect the two and seamlessly sync information between them. 

Step 5: Analyze the results and invite your most qualified applicants to an interview

Next, it’s time to look at your candidates’ results and see who the most promising applicants are. With TestGorilla’s skills assessments, you simply need to compare candidates’ test scores to see who performed best on the tests.

Test results are a good predictor of future job success and enable you to concentrate on only those applicants who meet your criteria for the role. Invite them to an interview to further evaluate their skills.

Step 6: Interview candidates

Conduct interviews with the applicants you selected in step 5. For the best results, we advise you to use structured interviews, in which you ask all candidates the same questions in the same or similar order. 

This helps you limit bias and compare candidates easily by using scorecards (or simply taking notes on their responses).

Step 7: Look at all the data you’ve collected 

By now, you should have plenty of information about your applicants. Analyze all the data you’ve collected so far, and see who has performed well consistently in each stage of the hiring process (skills tests and interviews). 

Do you notice any discrepancies or red flags? Are there any candidates whose performance is particularly impressive?

With all the information you have gathered at this point, identifying your top talent should be easy. 

Step 8: Make a hiring decision and extend an offer

Discuss the results with your hiring team and make a hiring decision. Inform the successful applicant of your decision, and extend a job offer to them to negotiate the specifics of the contract and their start date.

Step 9: Inform unsuccessful applicants

Many companies overlook this step, but that’s exactly why you shouldn’t skip it. 

Not hearing back from companies is extremely common for job applicants. But it’s also the number one reason for a negative candidate experience, and 72% of candidates wouldn’t recommend a company they haven’t heard back from. 

This means that informing your unsuccessful candidates of your decision is an easy way to stand out and make sure you’re not burning any bridges. You can even encourage them to apply to other openings in the future or ask them whether you can keep their application on file in case you see a position that would be a good fit for them. 

Step 10: Tailor your onboarding process to your new hires

The last step of the process is onboarding.

With the information you’ve gathered during recruitment, you can build a tailored onboarding process that caters to the needs of your new hire and helps them become a productive member of your customer service team faster. 

If you’ve identified any weaknesses during the pre-employment assessment process, you can address them with tailored training sessions. This will also improve your new hires’ employee experience by showing them that you care about their professional development and are attentive to their specific needs.

Hiring the best customer service agents isn’t difficult if you use the right approach

Customer service agents play an essential role in your organization, which is why you need to make sure that you’re able to assess candidates’ skills accurately and objectively.

Using effective tools, such as an ATS, customer service skills tests, and the right interview questions, enables you to identify top talent and make the right hiring choice every time. 

For the best results, you need to evaluate soft skills, like communication or time management, and technical skills. This will help you shorten your time-to-hire, provide a positive candidate experience, and recruit candidates who have what it takes to succeed.

With TestGorilla, you’ll find the recruitment process to be simpler, faster, and much more effective. Try it for free and start making better hiring decisions, faster and bias-free.

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