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Interview Techniques To Hire The RIGHT Employees For Your Customers

Anyone can win a customer once, but the true test of a company is the ability to keep customers coming back, time after time, year after year. Repeat customers tend to be much more profitable, too.

It costs 6 – 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.- McKinsey & Company

To increase customer loyalty, organizations have to go beyond customer satisfaction — companies must exceed expectations and delight customers. Products, services, procedures and distribution channels all play into customer happiness, but the biggest factor in creating customer loyalty is your people.

You already know how to hire the technical competence you need for your industry…the question is, “How do you hire people who deliver great sales, customer service and customer support experiences? What can you do to ensure that you get the right people who will communicate clearly, identify customer needs, and deliver service so that expectations are exceeded?

Here are six interview techniques to find the right employees for your organization – the people who will thrill your customers:

#1 Look for Energy & Passion

Individuals who go above and beyond for customers tend to be energetic — their passion shines through. As candidates enter your office, observe their body language. Do they tend to lean forward? Do their eyes widen slightly as you talk about your customers? Do they smile when talking about their previous experiences? Is their posture open and turned towards you to receive information? These are all visual cues that interviewees are energetic and passionate about their work. Passionate candidates will invest their energy into going the extra mile for customer follow-ups and providing excellent customer service and account management.

Hiring great candidates is the most important thing you can do.

#2 Observe How Candidates Treat Co-workers

Interviewees are always nice to their interviewers – they want the job and that means courtesy and respect for you. However, team players treat EVERYONE with polite respect. Pay attention to how the candidate talks with receptionists, administrative assistants and subordinate colleagues. These interactions will give you a much better insight into the true personalities of candidates than your time one-on-one, when they’re on their best behavior.

#3 Ask a Few Standard Questions

Standardizing some of your interview questions makes it much easier to compare candidates – which means you’re more likely to choose the right candidate. Include a few of the same questions in each interview to gather quality data on important characteristics and traits.

Standardized interview questions make it easier to compare candidates — and choose the right candidate.

Here’s a few great questions to ask candidates about managing customer relationships:

  • Tell me how you interact with customers in your current role.
  • Do you ask customers for feedback? If yes, how do you use this feedback?
  • What do you do to “wow” customers? How do you accomplish this?
  • If the office is about to close and a customer contacts you with a complex issue, what do you do?
  • How do you handle customer complaints?
  • Have you had unhappy or angry customers? What did you do?

The answers to each of these questions will provide insights into how candidates approach customer relationships.

#4 Find Common Interests

The trick isn’t for you to find common interests. Rather, does the interviewee look for common interests with you? Employees who serve customers well tend to start by building strong relationships. The fastest way to build a relationship is to talk about interests you both have in common. These interests can be personal or professional, activities or experiences, contacts or colleagues. Any time you see candidates look for mutual connections, odds are they will use this technique with customers too.

#5 Evaluate Policy versus Customers

After you’ve had time to ask several interview questions, take a moment to test the candidate’s attitudes towards corporate policies and customer service. Provide the candidate with the following test:

Policy vs. The Customer

You are working with Bo, our primary contact at Industrial Products, Inc (IPI). This is a prospective client with tremendous revenue potential. If IPI signs on with our company, we will exceed our sales targets for the year. Bo has asked for a special consideration. The only problem is that Bo’s request specifically goes against corporate policy.

What do you do?

There are a few WRONG answers to this question, such as…

  • Tell the customer, “Sorry, company policy states that we can’t do that for you.”
  • Tell the customer, “I’d be glad to do that for you, even though it’s against company policy.”

However, there are a number of RIGHT answers, such as…

  • Ask the customer additional questions to figure out what it is the customer really wants and needs. With additional information, there may be a way to meet those needs that do not involve going against company policy.
  • Ask the customer for a little time to investigate the request. Tell the customer that you want to meet their needs and that it may take additional research to find the right solution.
    …and so on.

The appropriate set of actions depends on your industry and your corporate culture. For example, upgrading a hotel suite is very different from adding coverage to an insurance policy after an accident. Not only do you need an employee who will take care of customers, you need someone who will maintain the integrity of your organization and avoid illegal and dishonest activities.

#6 Turn the Tables

At the end of the interview, be sure to allow the candidate to ask you questions. The level of time and effort put into these questions will give you a good idea of how the candidate prepared for the interview. Look for questions that…

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the industry
  • Express knowledge and interest in the organization
  • Provide evidence of effort into researching websites and marketing materials

Remember, when candidates interview, they invest the MOST time in learning and looking their best. If a candidate does not show interest, effort and energy in the interview, he or she won’t work hard for you.

Last but not least, make customer satisfaction a part of new employee orientation.