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Customer service representatives are oftentimes the only contact customers have with an organization, which requires recruiters to screen candidates carefully to find the right person for the role to represent the organization. Customer service reps bring value to the customer experience by connecting the customer to the organization through personal interactions and providing a human element to the brand. The reps are ideally helpful, resourceful and effective in the face of challenge and their level of personal service cannot be replaced in the eyes of the customer. Unfortunately, the turnover rate for customer service reps are of the highest in the employment arena, which presents recruiters with the ongoing challenge to find and retain the highest quality reps. High quality candidates possess a particular skill set that makes them inherently more effective in this valuable client-facing role. In the interview process, screen candidates for the following three qualities to ensure that you are hiring a high performing customer service reps.

3 Qualities to Screen Candidates for High Performing Customer Service Reps

Remain Calm Under Pressure

Customer service representatives are typically the first point of contact with a customer when an issue arises and are expected to remain calm under pressure while communicating clearly. Angry customers are usually challenging to deal with and reps should be able to effectively calm the customer down, provide applicable solutions, and ultimately leave the customer feeling positive about the overall experience. Screen candidates by asking them questions on how they deal with difficult customers and look for answers indicating that the rep puts customers first. The American Customer Satisfaction Index deemed Amazon.com as champions in customer satisfaction for their philosophy of truly caring for the customer and always putting their needs first. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com says, “if you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.” 70% of buying experiences are based on how a customer feels they’re being treated and without reps who remain calm and friendly under pressure, an organization’s reputation breaks down.

Focus on Sales

Customer service reps who have a sales background or who are sales-minded, have greater impact on the organization’s bottom line. In fact, reps have a 60-70% probability of selling to a current customer and a 5-20% probability of selling to a new prospect. Screen candidates for sales skills  and their ability to upsell or land new clients. Reps who are goal-oriented and incentivized to add to the bottom line bolster the overall financial potential of the organization. Zappos CEO and customer service guru, Tony Hsieh, literally puts his employees in the shoes of the buyer by giving each employee $100 and asks them to order two pairs of shoes from Zappos.com. The purpose of the exercise is for the employee to experience the Zappos buying process to better relate to customers and make a sale.


On average, it takes 12 positive customer service experiences to make up for one negative encounter. There is a significant amount of weight placed on reps to make each encounter with customers positive, so screen candidates for their passion for helping customers. In the interview process, worry less about customer service rep candidates’ technical background and more about their personality traits and people skills. Screen candidates with questions like “How would your best friend describe you?” or “What do you like most about working with others?” to get a better understanding of who the candidate is as a person. Reps can often learn technical skills about a product, but it’s harder to teach them how to be friendly, courteous, and passionate about service.


Customer service reps offer a competitive advantage if they leave customers with a positive and lasting impression. Hiring tools such as Digital Recruitment Platforms  help recruiters better screen candidates by gaining insight into key personality skills that are required for high performing customer service reps, such as their level of enthusiasm for an organization’s software and knack for problem solving. Recruiters can identify quality CSR candidates early in the hiring process by gaining insight into how candidates would communicate with customers, handle pressure and deal with challenging issues. Gaining that glimpse early in the screening process is invaluable to landing the highest quality CSR candidates quickly and effectively. To learn more about how RIVS can help you build the best customer service teams, schedule a one-on-one meeting with us here.

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