Hiring and Properly Training Service Employees

By Devin Morrissey

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One of the most commonly held falsehoods about customer service is that it is an “unskilled” position. Customer service skills are absolutely valuable. If your business doesn’t hire employees who have those skills and you don’t train them yourself, then you will struggle to survive.

To attract people with the skills you need for your company and to keep them there, you need to 

know how to spot this kind of talent and how to support those employees who have them.

Are you looking to step up your customer service and win new customers? You need to start with your team.

Hire Employees Who Fit Your Culture

One of the biggest mistakes an employer can make is sticking only to a list of credentials. Looking solely for experience or certifications can hurt your ability to attract the right candidate, and it will certainly damage your ability to keep them on your team.

Try hiring for cultural fits rather than extensive experience. Why? Experience might mean they know tips and tricks, but it won’t necessarily ensure they’re a good fit for the service you want to provide. Hiring employees who fit your culture will help you hire the right people, keep them longer, and even cut costs. To attract people who share your values, you must first communicate with them. Make sure your company values are visible on your website and on job postings. You should also discuss your values and culture during the interview process.

Keep in mind that you may need to widen your talent search and consider people you may not have interviewed before, but that’s okay because diversity is a strength in service positions. Your customers have diverse life experiences, so why shouldn’t your team?

Train Employees in Integrity

Training employees in customer service skills is as important as helping them navigate the ins-and-outs of your processes and any technology they need to use. What’s equally important is your decision to train employees in ethics, particularly to employees who have a high degree of autonomy or who need to go into people’s homes.

A high integrity workplace doesn’t just occur naturally. It takes work, training, and constant reassessment. More importantly, it starts at the top. You should have policies in place to deal with issues that might challenge an employee’s ethics, and every single employee should know about them. These policies should go beyond your legal obligations; they should enforce the “right” thing to do in all cases, whether or not the law requires it or if someone is looking.

Service with integrity is an exercise in building trust, and it’s relatively simple. In a restaurant, it’s as easy as allowing servers to make recommendations or to share their opinions on the food. Integrity also means going above and beyond state guidelines for labeling and including all allergens on your menus in addition to having staff ask about any potential allergies before taking orders. Put the customer’s needs first and be transparent about what they’re buying. Don’t sell to people who won’t benefit from your product.

Treat Your Employees with Respect

Desperate people do desperate things, and all the indexed hiring and ethics policies in the world won’t protect your business if you don’t treat your employees with fairness and respect. Both in-service and elsewhere, employees say that the number one thing they want from employers is to be treated with respect, but few people actually see that happen.

Respect doesn’t need to cost money. It means taking time to listen to your employees’ concerns and needs. If there’s a conflict, come up with a solution. If necessary, find someone who can mediate to ensure fairness. You also need to communicate with employees, and not just when things are going wrong. Celebrating successes is as important as identifying losses, and even simple acts of recognition can motivate your team and remind them of their value.

Service employees are incredibly valuable, and their skills are the difference between your success and failure as a business. You can’t hire and train blindly and expect results. As their employer, you need to set the stage for their behavior, both in front of customers and behind the scenes. If you make your expectations clear and model them well, then you’re building a winning service team.


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