What If Your Next Caller Is Your Next Boss?
Would you be willing to hire Bob, the customer service professional you just spoke with, if you were the owner of a customer service company?
One of my former bosses sent me a note sometime ago after encountering the above question on a customer satisfaction survey. Have you ever been asked that question on a survey? I haven’t – but it makes sense on a few different levels.
Service so great you get job offers, or more
If you work in customer service long enough, you eventually encounter just about everything imaginable. As a manager, I’ve witnessed the top people on my teams get anything job offers to marriage proposals to the occasional pizza paid for by the customer. There’s incredible power in someone who’s friendly and knowledgeable solving a problem and saving a customer time and money in the process.
What do I have to do to get a job offer?
I once had a business owner friend of mine (actually my friend’s dad) tell me that before he hired someone, he would walk out to their car and see if their windshield was clean. Why would he do that? Here are four reasons I came up with:
- Ability to think on your feet: When someone you want to work for comes out of left field and asks if he can see your car, how do you respond? If you can roll with the change of plan without getting flustered, it says a lot about how you might treat a customer with a seemingly outlandish request.
- Friendliness: Your interview all of a sudden shifted from a question and answer session to a guided tour. In those moments are you able to be interesting, friendly, upbeat, and conversational?
- Sense of ownership: Your boss entrusts you with something the business absolutely cannot survive without: Customers! Customers entrust you with their time, money, and much more. The way you take care of the things you own says a lot about how you will handle someone else’s things.
- Attention to detail: When you are trying to decode a customer’s message about a problem, gain complete understanding of the issue, and fix it, every detail matters. Sloppy customer service often requires our colleagues and customers to expend extra effort to get their issues resolve. Do you just hose off your windshield occasionally or do you take the time to make sure those pesky bits of tree sap come off too.
Back to why people get job offers
Before we go any further, I’d like to go on the record and say that I’m a total hypocrite. My windshield is filthy right now. Seriously, is there a good time to wash your car in Oregon?
Back to the topic at hand. While I’m in no way suggesting that you start treating your conversations with customers as job interviews, I am saying that there’s much to be learned from those times where customers profess their undying love for the person who processed their credit card payment. In cases where I’ve seen this happen, friendliness, thinking on your feet, taking ownership, and attention to detail have all been key ingredients.
So I kinda like that survey question. While it’s highly unlikely that the customer is going to actually make you a job offer, I can guarantee that every time the customer contacts customer service, they are evaluating whether or not they want to hire and/or continue to employ your company.
Head of Quality
Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.