3 Tips For Hiring Outsourced Customer Support Agents


3 Tips For Hiring Outsourced Customer Support Agents

In the past two months, I have spent at least 10 hours talking to 12 customer representatives just trying to simply get unlimited data added to my phone plan. There's nothing more frustrating than being passed on from rep to rep, only to be told "there's nothing we can do." After 10 years with the same company, this single, isolated incident makes me question my loyalty to that brand.

Though my skin crawls at the thought of dealing with customer service ever again, this experience is a reminder of just how important it is to hire based on cultural fit just as much as skill set. Employees are extensions of their managers, team, company and most importantly, brand. To me, the customer service representative is standing on the frontlines of the battle for brand preservation.

One of the biggest challenges I face as an Operations Manager for TaskUs is hiring qualified candidates for our office in the Philippines. Behavioral cues are incredibly difficult to determine without being physically in the same room as a candidate. As companies increasingly outsource Tier I Customer Support, customer service executives are tasked with the challenge of hiring candidates from afar. For those faced with this challenge, I have determined 3 important tips:

#1: Look for candidates that can communicate clearly and most importantly, concisely.

We look for people who can articulate themselves in a clear and concise manner. You can determine their ability to be concise with just by paying close attention to their answers in an interview. Questions such as, "Why are you interested in working at our company?" can sometimes elicit long and rambling responses. The best customer service reps can communicate clearly and concisely under pressure.

#2: For internal hires, pay close attention to how they communicate with their superiors.

A few important questions to review: How often does the employee reach out to their supervisor? Are they comfortable reporting problems? How transparent are they? Consistent and accurate communication is imperative for companies managing offshore teams. Any compromise in accuracy or transparency compromises your customers' trust in your brand and ultimately, your bottom line.

#3: Utilize role-playing exercises to determine whether the candidate is solutions-oriented.

Present a hypothetical situation and state the problem. Have the candidate walk you through the assessment, thought process, and final action plan. Did it make sense? Do you have a good grasp of how their mind is working? Remember, any customer support agent can be taught to simply recite policies and guidelines. The differentiating factor between a good and a great customer service agent is how solutions-oriented they are.

Effective and transparent communication gives our clients confidence in our company and our ability to help them focus on innovation. There is a core value written on the walls in our offices in Santa Monica and the Philippines: Teamwork Makes The Dream Work. When hiring a customer service agent, pay close attention to the previously listed tips and that specific core value. Without true teamwork, your brand will be tarnished and your ability to grow your customer base will be severely hindered.

Valerie Access

February 28, 2013