customer service

Poor customer service costs American businesses billions each year, while companies with friendly and attentive employees keep customers and attract new ones. Customer service personnel are the first point of contact with your company and can make or break your business. According to Ken, some of the top skills to look for include:

  1. Patience/Grace Under Pressure: Customers may be confused, frustrated or angry when they contact your company. Customer service staff must be able to handle stress, including when customers take it out on them. They must be able to remain calm and take the time to patiently listen so they can make sure that the customer’s concerns are acknowledged and handled with the appropriate amount of care.
  2. Flexible Problem-Solvers: Great customer service representatives go out of their way to find creative solutions that work for the customer. They ask questions and seek help when needed, exploring all options to help address and satisfy the customer’s concerns. This may mean they move away from their standard “script” and guidelines, with the goal of a happy customer.
  3. Willingness to Learn: Someone who thinks they’re always right or is hesitant in new situations may not be the best candidate for a customer service representative. Inquisitive representatives who are up-to-date on the latest policies and industry information can be a valuable resource to the customer, helping to ensure their repeat business.
  4. Commitment: There are many excellent job candidates currently in the market and you may have a larger applicant pool than in previous times. With so many good candidates, you want to make sure you get the best one ­— an employee who will be committed to your goals and service philosophy. This commitment will ensure the service representative will deliver the right message to your customers.

How can you identify candidates with these qualities? Here are some sample questions from EmployTest’s screening (Ken can share more) to find employees who will keep customers happy:

  1. Describe what customer service means to you. Look for the following in their response:
  • An approachable personality.
  • An understanding of expectations of the customer service rep role.
  • A passion for customer service that shines through in their answer.
  1. Tell me about a time you dealt with an unhappy customer and resolved the situation. An angry customer can quickly turn into a crisis situation. It requires thinking on your toes, a levelheaded approach and top-notch problem-solving capabilities. Look for:
  • Conflict-resolution skills.
  • Ability to handle stress.
  • How they managed the situation and turned it around.
  1. Can you describe the importance of working collaboratively with your team members and other departments? This question will show if a candidate is willing to jump in to help their team members, and if they’re able to relay customer feedback to other departments. Replies should demonstrate teamwork abilities and communication skills.
  2. What would you do if a customer asked you a question that you didn’t know how to answer? Answers should demonstrate honesty (admitting to the customer that they’re not sure, but will look into it), and follow-up to satisfy the customer, such as reaching out to co-workers to help answer a question or address a problem.

“Hiring an employee that has the skills to flourish in providing excellent customer service is a tremendous benefit to your business’s brand and finances,” Ken says. “A quick evaluation for key qualities before onboarding can save your business time and resources.”

Ken Crowell is Founder and CEO of EmployTest, a pre-employment testing platform that’s helped more than 7,000 corporate and government organizations across the US and globally to remotely pre-screen applicants for the best hiring choices. EmployTest administers more than 60,000 tests to job applicants each year. Learn more at

Customer service stock photo by Minerva Studio/Shutterstock