With so much competition out there for each available job these days, education and training are valuable assets for any serious job hunter. For some positions, special skill sets are preferred and often required. Job hunters most often wish they could get inside the minds of potential employers and managers to see just what they value most and look for when considering each applicant.
Dean Lazenby, an IS Service and Process Manager for a major corporation in the Midwest, holds a B.S. Degree in Marketing, has 15 years in Information Technology, all of which included some aspect of customer service, and over 8 years leading teams of up to 20 people. Dean has graciously consented to share some of his insight and reveal his core expectations and criteria for any prospective employee wishing to work as a customer service agent.
The question posed to Mr. Lazenby was, “Can you list the top attributes or criteria that you believe are essential in making an exceptional customer service agent?” His responses were as follows:
- Positive attitude– The single most important attribute an agent needs is a positive attitude. This impacts their interaction with customers, their overall performance and their growth potential. If agents have an attitude to succeed and grow, they can be coached and mentored to drive their growth and development beyond all expectations.
- Demeanor– An agent needs to maintain a professional, objective, assertive and empathetic approach during their interactions with customers. These skills are all essential to relay to the customer that the agent cares, respects and appreciates them, can keep emotion out of the discussions and can relay information back to the customer in an effective manner.
- Problem solving skills– Once an agent knows what the customer is asking for, they need to know how to deliver results. Expertise on whatever they are supporting is very important here and the proper training programs should be in place to ensure that agents have the knowledge they need. However, just as important is the agent’s ability to figure out the answers they don’t know, what information to get, who to contact for assistance and then maintaining some level of ownership through resolution.
- Active listening– Agents must be able to listen to customers on many levels. Understanding the issue the customer is presenting is critical to ensuring the agent is pursuing a resolution that will solve the customer’s problem. Being able to identify the customer’s level of frustration is also very important in allowing the agent to calm and reassure the customer to build their confidence that the issue they are experiencing will be solved to their satisfaction.
- Environment focused on growth– While not an attribute of the agent, the most exceptional agents are in an environment that fosters growth and learning. They must have leaders that care about both the organization and the individuals on their teams. Leaders that truly care about their teams will spend a great deal of time and effort in studying, coaching and motivating their agents to drive them to be the best they can be.
A special ‘Thank You’ goes out to Mr. Dean Lazenby for taking time out of his busy schedule to paint an informative picture of the expectations from the perspective of a hiring manager.
Feedback is invited and encouraged. Please provide any comments and/or questions in the space provided below.