What CSR “Skills” Should Be Mandatory?

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Anyone who has read my posts with any consistency will know I harp on this topic all the time. The CSR team of the company is the front line and of most importance to customer care, and getting the right kind of people into CSR slots should be a high priority. A great candidate for a CSR position must have a certain type of personality/character that includes a passion for helping people. So, which is more important when hiring a potential CSR? The right character traits? Or other not-so-related technical skills that may be part of doing the job? I agree with blogger Ben Lucier, who says:


In the world of customer service, it’s been my experience that it’s easier to train a passionate customer service rep the technical skills they need to solve problems than it is to teach a technician the soft skills, empathy and caring that many would recognize as world-class customer service.…some of my best successes were hiring non-technical candidates, passionate about customer service, despite a lack of technical skills. In short, don’t put your candidates’ tech skills on a pedestal; their technical abilities are just one piece of the overall customer service experience you want for your customers.”


So, a hiring agent should look for one mandatory trait when it comes to potential candidates for a CSR position. The right people-personality trait!


Do they know your computer system? Are they comfortable with the devices used on the job? These and other related skills are nice to have, but they should not be mandatory. However, if you have someone with those skills, but who lacks the people skills to be an exceptional CSR, then it is setting things up for potential failure in one of the most important areas of service.


Blogger Mark Arnold agrees. In October of last year, he discussed the whole personality versus skill issue, saying, “You wouldn’t want a plumber giving you back surgery any more than you’d want a lawyer piloting the airplane on which you are flying. You might, however, want the person with the biggest smile or the warmest welcome joining your customer service staff.” He continues and strikes the nail on the head, stating:


“The point is you can’t teach someone to be nice. It has to be part of their personality. You can teach someone how to answer a phone, conduct a teller transaction and do any number of things required of a customer service staff member. You can’t teach them passion, how to care about other people, how to go above and beyond just because they know it will make someone else happy. These are character traits, not skills they learn in a training class. When you hire someone for customer service who does not possess the right character traits, you are setting them up and setting up your financial institution for failure.”


While this is of utmost importance for those in the CSR field, Forbes.com recently reported that many positions these days are changing to consider skills as more secondary, saying “New research shows that the vast majority of employers (88%) are looking for a “cultural fit” over skills in their next hire as more and more companies focus on attrition rates.” They mention personality traits as being the focus, stating “Professionalism (86%), high-energy (78%) and confidence (61%) are the top three traits employers say they are looking for in new hires.”


So, pay attention all hiring agents out there, as well as those who think entering the CSR ranks is for you. It takes a special person to be a great CSR. Anything less than greatness is of no benefit to the company, and may end with a short life span as a CSR. As Lucer goes on to say:


When you hire staff who care about things like customer happiness and problem solving, and train them on skills they need to help, some really awesome things happen. Not only do problems get solved, but customers say great things about the experience they had with your company. The problem your customer called or emailed about is all but forgotten because the person who helped them cared enough to explain what happened, and took steps to make sure it won’t happen again. This kind of empathetic, compassionate service just doesn’t happen unless your team is staffed with employees who care about the person they’re helping, as much as the technical problem they’re solving.


So, when it comes to being an excellent CSR, personality over skill has to be the mantra of the day.


Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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