Monday, August 28, 2006

Hiring for the Customer Experience

I am sitting in a hotel room in Brentwood, TN (outside of Nashville). I am in town for some training. It gives me a break from bringing up a 500+ seat customer contact center in DeLand, FL that has me commuting 3 out of every 4 weeks to Daytona Beach.

It's giving me some time to catch up on reading. I am not in the thick of the battle. I miss it to be honest. It is hard for me to sit for 7 hours in a room while someone talks at me. Made even harder because I am hooked on the rush of 13 hour go! go! go! days.

But I just finished reading an article in the lastest Fast Company about Danny Meyer, who owns 4 of the top 20 restaurants in NYC. He talks about hospitality versus service. Which is a theme for this edition of the magazine. No links because it is not online yet.

You must NAIL service before you can even start thinking about the customer experience. This is something I am heavily interested in...we are at a turning point in the 100+ year history of the company I work for...we are opening a new call center. We have the opportunity to build it RIGHT from the ground up.

Meyer talks about what he looks for in new hires. There are, of course, the technical skills. But then he talks about emotional skill sets. And he breaks them down into 5 areas:

  1. A natural warmth and optimism. (You either feel it from someone or you don't.)
  2. Intelligence and curiosity. Passion about something.
  3. Work ethic. ("You would be surprised at how many people show up late for an interview, or don't shave.")
  4. Empathy.
  5. Integrity and self-awareness. ("...somebody who is thoughtful about who they are and where things fit into their lives. If they are not accountable to themselves, it's unlikely they'll be accountable to the people they are working with.")

I've probably interviewed at least 200 people in the last couple of months. I am not surprised about people showing up late for interviews, or in flip flops, or with thongs showing, etc. I am not surprised about integrity. Who accepts a job offer and then doesn't show up on the first day? (We have a 20% no show rate. We haven't cracked the code yet on how to identify this type of person. We use a testing suite that gets at attitudes toward work. We keep setting the criteria higher. )

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