2012-04-10

Hiring right for a customer-focus culture

Eric Fraterman

Hiring Right for a Customer-Focus CultureIt takes great customer service to win and it takes great people management to make this happen.


In my previous blogs I have advocated the importance of People in winning through great customer service and a truly memorably and binding customer experience. Along the same lines, I would like you to think about what DigiCert VP Flavio Martins blogged so aptly on B2C:


As soon as the customer walks into the store, reaches your Web site, calls your company, a friendly greeting from any (real, live, human) employee will make the customer feel welcomed. Without even thinking about it, the customers begins to rate in their head, how they are being treated. If the feeling is good, the wallets are open. If customers feel uneasy, you’ll need a crowbar to open their wallets. It is also vital for the customer to feel relaxed when deciding to buy a product and not pressured. Feeling pressured will drive away the customer. You may make the sale with a high-pressure approach, but don’t expect them to come back. The overall atmosphere and the personal connection of employees with your customers is what binds the customer to your brand. It’s this combination that makes an exceptional customer experience. And it starts from the management team, to the sales team, the developers or merchandizing, and ends with your front line team who interact with customers day to day.”


Hiring Right Is KeyMy deeply held conviction is that if you want to win based on customer service and experience, everybody in the organization needs to have a strong aptitude to service. This is totally irrespective of role and function. If you are not serving a paying customer, then you are serving an internal customer. You may recall that Tom Peters said a long time ago that if you don’t have a customer to serve in your job or don’t know who this is, you should begin to worry about your job. A fundamental truth then, and even more so now!


I am therefore advocating that we learn from the excellent companies by formally selecting people on their service aptitude. After all, technical skills can be trained but aptitude cannot. Specifically, I recommend considering the use of simple but proven testing tools to ensure that each and every applicant who gets interviewed first passes a pre-set hurdle. Yes, I mean indeed that you should not even interview a person that is not “right” for your service culture! Such a selection approach needs to be wrapped in messaging to explain the importance of your culture and sustaining it. Candidates should also receive their test results, so that this is a win-win.   In the U.S. this approach may be legally a bit more tricky than in other countries, but this is definitely manageable.


My second recommendation is to engage in team hiring practices and only hire based on broad consensus.


This approach is admittedly more laborious than the traditional process, but the business value of hiring right throughout the entire organization is immeasurable. It is a key ingredient of creating a winning customer-focus culture.


Eric Fraterman is a Customer-Focus Consultant with a wide and deep experience in more than twenty industries and six countries over 25 years. He helps organizations create a Customer-Focus advantage for gaining and retaining business through exceptional customer service and experience.He can be reached at Eric@CustomerFocusConsult.com

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