Are Your Sales Reps Driving Away Your Customers?

5 Improvement Areas for More Effective Sales and Customer Service Hiring

It is well known in the retail community that hiring effective customer service and sales representatives leads to better customer interactions. But did you know that making a great customer service hire can directly impact your bottom line?

The bad news: These great retail hires are a rare breed.

The good news: It IS possible to find them.

SkillSurvey, a company that offers sophisticated software that generates insights about job candidates based on reference feedback, recently released data on retail workers. This feedback – from more than 19,000 references on about 4,000 job candidates – showed that retail sales and customer service representatives need to improve in five key areas.

  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of company products and services.
  • Gathering information from customers and relevant sources to effectively answer questions.
  • Communicating information clearly so that customers can understand.
  • Tailoring recommendations of products and services to the customer.
  • Encouraging customers to buy new products or services by presenting relevant options.

The takeaway? If retailers want to get serious about improving the quality of their hires, these findings prove that they should be on the lookout for these key behaviors …or the lack thereof.

Past Employee Performance Equals Future Company Success

Ray Bixler, President and CEO of SkillSurvey, said, “Past work performance is the best indicator of future work performance. Quality hiring is critical because employees in these roles directly impact customer interactions and therefore the bottom line of the business.”

The ability to upsell, tailor information, and make recommendations are all areas where customer service employees frequently need to improve. That is why it is more critical than ever before to carefully vet your job candidates.

“Whether in-store, on the phone, or online, retailers may not be adequately meeting customer needs and in turn missing key sales opportunities. Our findings indicate that retailers can lose money when they don’t take the time to identify and hire candidates with skills such as the ability to gather the right information from customers and tailor their recommendations accordingly,” Bixler said.

Take the time to ask intelligent, customer service-specific questions when interviewing. Do a thorough reference check and keep an eye out for common sales and service pitfalls. Focus on key behaviors and vet employees for the necessary soft skills like adaptability and problem-solving.

Knowing that a job candidate has performed well in these key areas in the past can give you a glimpse into their future performance. It also means that the candidate can likely be a role model for other employees. Customer service representatives should be able to not only respond to customer requests, but also be able to engage with customers in ways that help them beyond their initial question or problem to ensure that their needs are being met.

“Strategically using references to identify these behaviors for success will help set companies apart and boost their bottom line,” Bixler added.

If you’re a retail employer, do your homework and look out for the five behaviors valued in retail sales and customer service. Your hard work will result in an excellent employee and an improved bottom line.


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