By Steven Grady
3 Traits of a Rockstar Customer Support Rep:
Interview Questions to Help Find Your Next Super Star Support Rep
One of my proudest accomplishment is my customer support team at Lyft. I can’t take credit for building all of it, but I can say that many of the candidates I interviewed or recruited to work for Lyft ended up as the highest performers, often put on the fast-track to leadership roles. I dedicated my time to hiring the right candidates and investing in a team that can effectively operate as a rockstar customer support organization.
What did I look for in candidates, and what prompts should you be including in your interviews?
They need to be a combination of Mother Theresa…
Question: “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a customer’s issue that you thought was a waste of time.”
What am I looking for here? Empathy and resilience. The core of this idea is that every customer’s problem is their biggest problem in that moment; recognizing and acknowledging those feelings are the first steps to resolution and more importantly, relationship restoration with the customer.
Support reps have to have thick skin and try not to take anything too personally. It would be unrealistic to expect any customer support rep to be blindly optimistic; however, it’s imperative your support reps have the stamina to withstand pissed off customers (some rational, some irrational) for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ability to still remain composed with a positive and effective force on the team is one of the best qualities you can find in a customer support representative. Your job as a manager is to identify the candidates who possess these characteristics.
At Lyft, our ticket loads would outgrow our capacity to handle them, especially when major events occurred like major city launches or buggy update. It was easy for support agents to become jaded as they handled the same situation over and over again, while trying to maintain an engaging conversation with each customer. Most support teams can break under these circumstances, but with the right people and the right management to boost morale you can survive, and even thrive. Hard times often breed camaraderie.
… & Sherlock Holmes…
Question: “Tell me about a time when something, anything,(big or small) broke, rendering your previous processes and methods useless, and you had no obvious way to fix the situation. How did you handle it?”
In this scenario, I want to know how they handle utter chaos and uncertainty. Every great customer support rep is also a master sleuth at piecing together disparate pieces of information, to discover probable causes and present a solution This process is inductive reasoning; a process Mr. Holmes used to uncover his own mystery cases. These support reps will eventually know more about your product than anyone else in the company, and therefore are an excellent resource since they are the direct channel to your customer base. Your rockstar customer support team understands the intricacies of your product and see first hand how one break or change－no matter how seemingly innocuous － affects everything else.
…and they have to be a productivity machine no matter the circumstances.
Someone is only good at their job if they can produce results, and customer support reps are expected to produce exceptional results under immense pressure. Pay close attention to how the candidate responds to a crisis situation and note their problem solving skills.
- Were they motivated to find creative ways to handle a larger-than-normal amount of tickets?
- Do they have the stamina to work 12 hours straight to resolve an issue when an obvious solution isn’t available?
- What was their emotional response? Did he/she respond frantically or with a thoughtful response where they recalled motivating their team through a rough patch?
Make it fit your process
Although these aren’t the only questions you should be asking during the interview process, they are a good starting point to pick the best candidates for a tough, but rewarding part of the customer journey. When it comes to customer service hires, you’re basically looking for a unicorn. Whatever you do, focus on finding that unicorn, especially in the early days. Your customers will thank you.