Hiring for Exceptional Customer Service 

I’ve been with the same bank for over 20 years. Sure, I could switch and get £200. I could move to a bank with a ‘whizzier’ app. But I’ve stuck with my bank… why? Because when I need to speak with a human being, they’ve always been on hand to help.  

The bank doesn’t always get it right, but in my experience, to quote Maya Angelou: 

‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”.  

If your customer service leaves your customer with a bad feeling, they’ll want to leave (and they’ll tell others about it too). However, if you consistently make them feel great, they often become loyal to you and your services.  

In fact, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service (HubSpot Research) and increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by between 25% and 95%. (Bain and Company

Turnover 

One of the biggest challenges in customer service is high staff turnover. Turnover has consistently hovered between 30-45% globally, year-on-year, and the average tenure just one year (Customer Experience Magazine). The demanding job role, coupled with repetitive tasks and difficult interactions, lead many to quit, resulting in a higher demand to fill positions. Sure… technology and chat-bots are getting better every day, but you’re ALWAYS going to have customers/clients who just want to speak to a human being. 

This can have a knock-on effect on wait times. Recent data from Microsoft revealed that the average wait time for customer service, in the UK, was 35 minutes and 34 seconds. Yet, a recent survey by HubSpot revealed that most people are only willing to hold for 2-3 minutes before getting upset and forming a negative opinion, this can lead to many customers walking away and/or being in a detrimental mindset when they finally get to speak with someone.

How to Address This

Customer service roles aren’t just about resolving issues, they’re about creating positive human connections with clients and customers. They are the ‘face’ of your company. I’m always surprised how many organisations still hire for experience and rely on CV sifting. Hiring candidates based on their experience can be deemed an ‘easy fix’, but it doesn’t guarantee success (leading to increased turnover) and can severely limit your talent pool.  

After all, skills can be taught. Better to hire those who embody the spirit of exceptional service, who are eager to learn/grow, and have a positive impact to your business! In addition, your representatives need to represent the customers they’re serving… not just ethnicity and gender, but neurodiversity and age (i.e. Gen Z, single mums returning to work or retired people looking for something new).  

One of the best calls I ever had with my bank was with a mother, at home with her children shouting in the background. As a parent myself we instantly connected. Turned out she’d been a stay-at-home mum for many years until recently joining the bank part-time. However, I’m sure many organisations wouldn’t have given her the ‘time of day’, given her lack of experience.  

Which is why we’ve created our Customer Service Assessment, identifying talent with potential irrespective of their background, whilst giving candidates a real-life view into the job in question – helping you to retain the strong talent which you took the time to attract. 

For example, Virgin Atlantic wanted to create an inclusive, skilled workforce that represented their customer base, but who hadn’t necessarily worked in the sector before, given a competitive market talent after COVID. We built a new assessment which brings their roles to life, using their own people to build a narrative, whilst providing EVERY candidate with personalised feedback.  

The assessment enabled them to make 512 offers in just 12 weeks, with an average NPS score of +64, with 44% of offers being made to females, 35% from underrepresented ethnic groups, and 15% to candidates with a disability.   

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