Why Does It Have To Be So Hard?

If you have ever hired for a customer service opening at your company, you have without a doubt been burdened with a pool of talent that ranges from completely unreliable to unapologetically unengaged. 

Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of companies of all shapes and sizes with customer services needs. Inevitably during our conversations one common theme tends to emerge… managers don’t know where to start so they approach their opening like everyone else. They log into their Indeed, LinkedIn, or 3rd party job board account, post their opening, and frown with disappointment as wave after wave of underwhelming candidates apply. 

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The worst part is the countless hours of resume sorting, phone interviewing, in-person interviewing, and negotiating often always ends the same… lack luster performance and high turnover. 

The Mistakes

To my amazement, when I ask hiring managers why they keep putting themselves through this painful process, I almost always hear the same response… “it’s how we have always done it” or “it’s our company’s hiring procedure”. It’s time to start thinking outside of the box.

#1 Hiring for experience vs. transferrable skills

A few years ago, I had a specific customer (Customer Mary) that was looking to hire a small group of customer service talent for her team. During our conversation, Customer Mary informed me that she was going to be requiring 2-3 years of experience for these openings. 

Intrigued by her statement I asked why it was necessary for this role to have 2-3 years of experience. Customer Mary gave me the same response I had heard hundreds of times: “We have a demanding job and I need to know I am hiring people that understand the role”.

Then, I asked her about her current top performers in the role and why they are so good. As often happens, Customer Mary lit up as she talked about her top performing employees and how they have great attention-to-detail, amazing ability to think on their feet, they are never late, and they all have wonderful communication skills.

Every single thing that Customer Mary described had ZERO to do with their understanding of the role, company, or their customers. She was describing transferrable skills. 

When managers take a step-back and look at any new hire they often realize that even if they hire someone with “industry experience” it doesn’t ultimately predict success. In fact, there is usually a similar amount of training needed for someone with experience. When you think about it, even though someone may have been in a similar role, there were often different softwares, systems, processes, etc… all of these will need to be first unlearned and then relearned to match they way your company or department works. 

Marcus Matz

Managing Director, Katapult Network

Customer Service Hiring Expert

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