The customer-facing position is the most critical role in the service environment. Currently, about 27% of jobs, from retail to restaurant, fall into this category. As a hiring manager, you know that turnover can be high in these positions and employee morale can be low. To keep good candidates from leaving your workplace, it’s important to evaluate some specific skills when hiring, testing, or analyzing on-the-job training. To ensure optimal candidates and decrease turnover, we’ve come up with a few skills that hiring managers should put more emphasis on when deciding on which candidates to hire.
Showing Empathy – While empathy can be learned, it is also something that comes more naturally to some people. Customers need the feeling of being valued or cared for. When employees give no thought to how the customer feels, clients are quickly turned off and lose interested in your business or product. Even if you aren’t able to help the customer in a certain situation, your acknowledgement of their feelings and sense of empathy can help manage the situation and the customer’s frustration.
Knowing the Customer is Not Always Right – This is an important skill that a customer-facing employee must have in order to work effectively. Big companies like Wal-Mart and Target would lose millions if all of their employees believed the customer was right each and every time. Knowing how to stand up to customers and provide quality service at the same time goes far in these industries.
Taking Pride in their Job – Your best employees will be those who take pride in the company they work for. Whether you’re a cashier or a manager, having pride in your company can make the difference between a sale and a lost customer. When things break down, processes are flawed, or long lines run rampant, a positive experience with a customer-facing person can make all the difference. If employees have no pride in their company, they are likely to only make things worse by adding flames to the fire.
Presenting a Uniformed Front – In the retail and restaurant industries it’s really important that your customer-facing associates present a united, uniform front. They need to be able to articulate the values and ideas instilled in them from a corporate perspective. From time to time, they may need to go outside the box, but for the most part, each employee must do his or her part to present a united front. Creating a machine is most successful when each part works together for one common cause. A business works the same way.
Being Flexible – The workplace is often one of the most dynamic places in someone’s life. If they are not willing to be flexible, they may come off as being uncompromising, rigid, or overly cautious. Highly flexible people are willing to take on new adventures and ready to adapt to changes within the office. When a customer-facing employee is dealing with a situation that is out of the norm, being able to be flexible will allow the customer a better experience within your business. Word of mouth advertising is one of the best forms of marketing out there, and that is why being flexible with customers is such an important trait.
These characteristics are some of the most important ones to consider when you are hiring in the service environment. As an HR manager it’s important that you look for defined traits, as it will help with creating better turnover rates and employee retention.
What characteristics have you found helpful in this type of environment?
How can you tell which candidate is the best choice? It’s hard to see past the resume to the real person. That’s why eSkill and Outmatch have joined forces to provide comprehensive applicant assessments that combine hard skills testing and soft skills assessments to predict on-the-job success so you can be sure to hire the best candidate every time.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.