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How to Find and Hire Great Customer Service Agents

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Good talent is hard to find. Here’s how to make it easier.

Every time I publish a post and send it out to our email list, I get a lot of responses.

Granted, the overwhelming majority of them are auto-replies (and Karen, you seriously need to update yours, as it says you were returning from vacation two weeks ago).

But I also get a lot of questions.

Questions about customer service strategies, metrics, management… just about everything we cover on this blog. And perhaps the most burning question that small business owners love to ask?

“Where can I find amazing customer service reps? The kinds of people who can execute on all of this support stuff you’re talking about?”

It’s not easy. Hiring the very best in any field never is.

But there are a number of things that you can do to stack the deck in your favor, and turn your business into an attractive place for top customer support performers to want to work.

In today’s post, I’ll share some of the best ways to find great customer service agents, from job boards to inbound strategies, along with some tips that can help you hack your way to great hires.

1) Job Boards and Platforms Where Great Customer Service Employees Can Be Found

There are two major challenges with most traditional job boards:

  1. A terrible signal-to-noise ratio, with a lot of sorting and filtering required for both candidates and employers
  2. It’s just about the widest net you can cast, which means that you’ll attract a lot of candidates who aren’t a good fit for the position or your business.

That’s why when we use and recommend job boards, we opt for the most targeted ones we can find.

In Groove’s case, we’re a remote team, so we rely on WeWorkRemotely to find talent, including for our support team. We’ve seen a smaller–but much higher quality–pool of applicants from there than from larger platforms.

I also highly recommend the Support Driven job board, whose mission statement (and roster of great customers) I love:

Rather than the shotgun approach of general job boards, look for smaller ones targeted to your industry or company type, like AngelList jobs for startups or Mashable’s board for tech. Many popular industry blogs and forums host their own boards.

2) Getting Referrals (The Right Way)

While job boards may be the first thing most people think of when it comes to filling a position, it’s not the only one, and in many cases, it’s usually not even the most effective.

Referrals from people that you know and trust can be a tremendously valuable way to grow your team.

In my experience, candidates who come to you via referral are:

  1. More likely to be good fits, as your trusted source knows both them and you
  2. More likely to want to work for you and be excited about joining your team, as you’ll have a mutual acquaintance who has validated you
  3. More likely to close faster and more easily

Unfortunately, many people approach referrals wrong. They either send emails that get ignored, or they don’t even bother because they assume it won’t work (“if my friend already knew a great support agent, they wouldn’t just hired them already.”).

The latter is a mindset mistake (obviously, your friend can’t hire everyone). The former is an easily fixable tactical error.

First, let’s take a look at a real example of a referral email I got a long time ago, that looks a lot like many emails that I’ve gotten since:

I responded to this email, but not with a helpful referral. I did help him eventually, but it took a lot more back and forth after the initial message.

Most people, however, simply wouldn’t respond.

Here’s why:

  1. I had no idea what they were actually looking for. What’s a “CS person”? There are a lot of different types of candidates that could fit this description.
  2. It forces the recipient to do all of the work. What kind of job are you looking to fill? If I have to take the time to play matchmaker and figure out what you actually need, that puts the burden of the referral on me.

Instead, GREAT referral request emails do all of the work for the person who they’re sent to.

Here’s a script that you can steal for your own emails, compiled from dozens of excellent referral emails that I’ve received or seen.

How to Ask for a Customer Support Candidate Referral

Subject: Quick question

Hey [name],

I’m looking to hire a great customer support agent for [Company name, and a reminder about what your company does].

The perfect candidate would be [Name 1-2 traits that you need the person to possess; things that would make the reader say “Hmm, Kim would be perfect for this!” Examples: empathetic, super-fast on a keyboard, ridiculously cheerful… whatever it is that you’re looking for].

They’ll be responsible for [a one-sentence description of what the person will be doing. Example: managing our social media support and working with our devs to track bugs and make the app better].

Do you know someone like this? If so, would you mind making an introduction, please? I’d really appreciate it :)



[Your Name]

P.S. More details here. [Link to job posting, if you have one. If not, leave this part out.]

This script does all of the work for the reader. All they have to do is read your email, know instantly whether or not they know somebody that fits the bill, and follow through on your clear request (send an email intro).

You’ll be amazed by how much an approach like this will set you apart from everybody else that asks busy people for favors.

3) Bonus Tips: Getting The Word Out

So you’ve done the obvious things like posting your job listing on your company site, perhaps you’ve submitted it to a (targeted) job board or two, and you’ve emailed a few friends for referrals.

What else can you do?

The reality is, there are hundreds of ways to get your open position in front of the right people, and most of them are sitting right in front of us, completely ignored.

Here are a few of my favorite “hacks” for getting your job opening seen:

  1. Include it in your email footer. How many emails do you send every day? Now your job posting gets seen by that many more people.

  2. Add it to your social profiles. This could be as simple as an “[I’m Hiring!]” in your Twitter or LinkedIn bio.

  3. Connect with people who deliver great support to you. Did you get great customer service from someone? Find them on LinkedIn and connect. Then, send them your “referral request” email using the script from this post. There’s a good chance that they know somebody like them who may be looking for a job… or that they might be looking themselves.

More Resources to Help You Hire Better Support Teams

I hope that this post helps you find some incredible candidates.

But finding great people is only one part of building an amazing customer service team. Check out these other posts on hiring, training and managing for awesome support:

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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