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How We Hire Awesome People For Our Support Team

When was the last time you had an awful customer service experience? I recently called for an ophthalmology appointment and was greeted by a cranky, unhelpful receptionist. The whole experience was negative, so I ended

Tricia, Senior Consultant at ClearPoint, leverages her 4+ years of performance management experience when working with customers to improve their reporting and strategy execution.

When was the last time you had an awful customer service experience?

I recently called for an ophthalmology appointment and was greeted by a cranky, unhelpful receptionist. The whole experience was negative, so I ended up booking an appointment with another doctor.

I bet you can think of a time (or two, or 10) when you had a similar experience—and I bet it made you think twice about using that particular product or service again.

We always say our biggest competitive advantage is the amazing people who make up the ClearPoint team. Our goal is to provide our customers with a seamless experience and immediate assistance—and the only way to do this is to have a rigorous hiring process that ensures every member of our support staff is top-notch.

If you have a similar goal—and you are trying to create an excellent and attentive customer support team—take a look at the seven things we always do to hire the best people.

Step #1: We spend a lot of time crafting our job postings.

If you want to hire the ideal support team member, you have to create a job posting that speaks specifically to that individual. We take our time creating a job listing that captivates the right candidates, embodies our culture, and discusses our clients. This is critical, as it gives potential candidates a better idea of what the job will entail and who they would be supporting. If you’re not getting the right kind of applicants to apply to the position, return to the wording of the job post and revisit how you present the information.

Step #2: We prioritize those who customize their application.

Anyone can submit a one-size-fits-all job application or fire off their resume to a number of companies. But it takes far more time and careful consideration to send a customized cover letter. You want to be sure the candidates you’re reviewing have spent time learning about the job opening, company, and industry—and are able to clearly communicate what they bring to the team. You don’t want team members who want just any job—you want team members who want a job with your organization helping your clients or customers.

Step #3: We make sure they are responsive early on in the interview process.

It’s critical for candidates to fit your team dynamic and have the right personality to interact well with clients. We suggest sending candidates who have made it to this stage a questionnaire with 5-10 questions. You should be able to get a better idea of their written response style, which is critical for customer support, as well as a peek at their strengths, weaknesses, and character. Throughout this process, pay close attention to whether the candidate responds to the questionnaire within the time constraints you provided.

Step #4: We ask the candidate questions about their organizational habits.

Next, you should think about finding out your candidate’s ability to organize and manage day-to-day activities necessary for the position. This could be a phone, Skype, or in-person interview, depending on your organization.

We ask our candidates about the following:

  • How they manage speaking to multiple clients at once.
  • How they stay patient during difficult client situations.
  • How they balance their obligations.
  • How they handle competing priorities.
  • How they handle switching from menial to high-priority tasks.

All questions you ask should relate to daily issues the candidate could face if he or she is brought on as a member of your support staff. You should gain a better idea how the candidate shows empathy to clients, how they manage daily work stressors, how they’re able to multitask, and more. Support team members need to keep a cool head in stressful situations, and this is a great way to see how they might respond.

Step #5: We assess their verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

Client communication happens in a variety of ways—through our in-app messaging, on the phone, over video chat, and in person. Throughout the interviewing process, we always keep an eye on what our candidates express both verbally and nonverbally.

  • Does the candidate express him or herself with confidence, or do they appear shy?
  • Are they enjoyable to speak with, or is the conversation strained?
  • Is the candidate knowledgeable, or do they waiver when they give their response?
  • What about their nonverbal appearance, like when you or a client is speaking? Do they seem happy, confident, and ready to help? Or frustrated, bored, and wishing they were elsewhere?

Step #6: We assess how they’d respond to our customers.

At some point during the hiring process, be sure to set up a “mock support situation” with your candidate. Have someone at your organization pretend like they’re facing a problem within your software or with your product, and have the candidate walk them through a solution.

Your ideal candidate will handle this with ease. Remember: It’s more important how they handle themselves than whether or not they know all the answers.

Step #7: We ask them to take a walk in our clients’ shoes.

We give our candidates several weeks of access to our software, and if they make it to the final stage of interviews, we ask them to present our software to us. They should tell us what they like about it, what they don’t like about it, and what needs to be improved. Not only does this give us some great insight into our own product, but it forces the candidate to think like our customers may think—and it prepares them (if they become new hires) for day-to-day interactions.

In Summary

Remember: You should have an intention for everything you ask your candidates to do. Don’t just ask your candidates to complete a hiring exercise without any thought to how it can help you get to know them better. By tying specific objectives to each task, you’ll rest assured you’re hiring the cream of the crop.

How We Hire Awesome People For Our Support Team