Posted by: Ron Loza | July 23, 2010

Hiring for Customer Service

So much has been written about customer service. How do you provide great customer service? Can you compare customer service from the 1960’s to now?

My first job at 15 years old was working at an independently owned grocery store. Before the advent of the credit card we used to ring the groceries and hand write a tab for the customer. At the end of each month the customer would receive an invoice. We knew most of the customers by their first name.

When we went to a gas station we were met by four individuals all dressed in white. One would fill the gas tank, another would check the tire pressure, the third would look under the hood to check the oil and water levels, and the fourth would wash the windshield. At the end of the experience they would usually hand us a glass with a San Francisco 49ner logo or some other parting gift.

As you can imagine, teaching customer service today is a challenge. Kids today can only read about it in history because it just doesn’t exist on any large scale. They have little, if any, examples to emulate.

So where do you begin? I’ve always believed in the Bill Walsh (coach of the SF 49ners) theory of hiring. Find the best athletes and we’ll find a place for them. I’ve always subscribed to hiring the best “attitude.” I can teach most people how to accomplish a task, I cannot teach them to smile.

One tip to hiring is to hold a group interview. Have up to five people scheduled for the same time. Leave them in a place where they have to wait, preferably standing up, and preferably a large area. Make them wait for 10 to 15 minutes. You need to be in a place where you can observe their behavior. Watch who introduces themselves to the others and watch who is texting or standing off to the side. Also note who is annoyed with you when you finally show up. This technique alone is the single most powerful tool to weeding out weak prospects quickly. I’ve always hired the outgoing friendly person and have had great success with that type of person.

What techniques have you used? Anything out of the ordinary?

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