I’m writing this sitting at a fast food place known for good customer service with a Diet Dr. Pepper in hand. A young lady just came by, cleaning tables, checking trashcans, and asking customers how they are doing. She offered to refill my drink. When I said yes, she was back in about 30 seconds with a refill, a smile, and a friendly “my pleasure” when I thanked her. Contrast that with other fast food experiences you’ve had lately. I bet it blows them away.
You can strategize all you want. You can design all the best customer experiences. You can develop a creative, fun, engaging brand identity. But one minute with the wrong customer-facing employee will make that all come tumbling down. Don’t let that happen to you. Hire the right people to deliver your brand to your customers in just the right way. And, no, that isn’t always very easy to do.
Hiring feels transactional, but is really a strategic issue. Don’t make hiring an afterthought. Focus on the process. Design one that’s driven with a single goal in mind; to acquire people with the personality traits that will drive them to care for your customers exactly the way you want them to.
What Does The Right “Fit” Look Like?
While thinking about your business strategically, give some thought to how employees make a critical difference in your success. Think carefully about what traits you want in all employees. Consider what makes an employee successful.
Develop a list of those characteristics. This list will help guide you as you manage your team and look for new team members. You can build your evaluation process for existing employees around these traits. And you can use the list as a foundational part of your recruiting and hiring process.
How do you find the right talent?
One of the very best ways to source new employees is based on recommendations from existing staff – with some incentives. Have your team always be on the lookout for great personalities – even in other industries. You can teach the business, but it’s very hard to develop the “right’ personality. Let it be known (in social media, in job postings, etc.) the types of people you are looking for.
How do you hire only the top people for your business?
Deliberately design an interview process that ensures that only the best candidates make it to hiring. Spend time in advance clearly thinking about the types of traits your organization needs to deliver just the right experience to your customers. How important is product knowledge? How important is empathy? How important is understanding customer needs? How important are listening skills?
Carefully develop a list of questions designed to probe and highlight the different personality traits. Have each interviewer fully evaluate each candidate.
Train interviewers in how to ask questions, observe responses, and ask incisive follow-up questions. Make sure they all know what it is that you’re looking for.
Have one person be the central coordinator for that candidate. They should read all interviewer feedback and ask interviewers follow-up questions. They should get the interviewers together to discuss the candidate and make sure you get input from a variety of perspectives.
How do you bring them on-board?
Finding just the right person is so important. And how you bring them on board is the next big step. Build excitement with the candidate. Immediately after coming to agreement with them go ahead, set a start date, and launch the on-boarding process.
That process should that build excitement both internally and with the candidate; reinforcing to them that you are excited about them joining the team. Touch base with them very regularly during the time from offer/agreement/acceptance to their start date. Think about what you can do to build that excitement little by little. By the time they start work, they (and you) should be super-excited for them to start.
Have a list of all the administrative things that have to happen (technology, office, keys, security, etc.). Make them happen in advance as much as possible. Your new team member should be able to hit the ground running and get integrated into the business as quickly as possible. This is all a way to (1) show how important they are to you and (2) get them productive and serving your customers quickly.
How do you maintain enthusiasm and continually support your team?
Every organization is different. So it’s difficult to describe a universal employee support environment. But one thing I can tell you is that it should have several fundamental elements:
- A culture that involves open communication.
- Allow employees (no, encourage them) to continually ask questions.
- Involve employees in the strategic planning process. Make sure they understand the organization’s direction.
- Training that includes customer-service.
- A pay scale and performance assessment process that rewards behaviors that produce the highest customer benefits.
Do very regular check-ins – every day for week 1, every week for month 1, every month for year 1 or the first 6 months. Once they are settled into the organization, they will be integrated into all those employee processes like payroll, performance evaluation, employee feedback, etc.
Conclusion: This may sound like A LOT more than you are used to doing to simply hire people. And you’re right. except simplicity is gone from hiring and the impact your employees make is very significant. Running your business this way requires investment of time, energy, and money. Customers will notice – and keep coming back. It will become a core element of your brand. The return on your investment will be clear to see.
Together we can make sure your organization has a solid path to the future.
Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas. You can contact me on our Contact Us page, call me at (713) 907-8429, or email me at BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.com. I hope you are enjoying these blog posts. If so, please help spread the word. Tell others about IDiscover Consulting Group and my blog. Share these posts. Comment on them. I’d really love to hear your ideas!