Everyone is collecting data today and trying to figure out ways to improve the customer experience. There is even a Customer Experience Professional Association which offers a certification program for individuals who want to be certified as customer experience professionals.
Hospitals look at patient satisfaction scores, car dealerships and hotels send out online surveys and retail salespeople ask consumer to fill out surveys before even leaving the store. Every survey includes questions about consumer satisfaction and/ or the customer experience.
Companies and organizations who create a culture of creating exceptional experiences for their customers will obviously score better on the surveys. Disney comes to mind as I write this article. You will never see Snow White taking a drag of a cigarette in front of the Magic Kingdom, it’s just not acceptable!
In a number of industries, reimbursement and compensation are tied to survey scores. For example, in healthcare the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is tying reimbursements to HCAHPS scores. HCAHPS is a survey instrument used in hospitals. Years ago, healthcare professionals could get away with being ornery as long as they were clinically competent. Today, healthcare professionals must be clinically competent and have a customer centric approach. In other words, be consistently nice and improve processes with the patient in mind. No patient wants to wait two hours to before seeing a doctor.
In order to provide exceptional customer experiences on a consistent basis, companies must hire the right people. People who are capable of using their judgement to exceed customer expectations. People who are competent and have a good attitude. Not every potential job candidate will be a customer experience superstar. So how do you separate the mediocre candidates from the exceptional candidates? One way is to ask the right questions. Unfortunately, there are many hiring managers who ask lousy and sometimes illegal questions. Questions that elicit nonsensical, theoretical answers.
An effective employment interview includes a few behavioral questions. Asking a behavioral question, will elicit an answer of past behavior. Past behavior can predict future performance. So if you are hiring an employee who is expected to deal with customers, try a few of the following questions:
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an angry customer? What was the situation and how did you handle it?
Tell be about a time, you delighted a customer? Please be specific.
Tell me about a time you had multiple tasks to complete and a customer was waiting for your attention.
Tell me about an innovative way you have handled a problem?
Did you ever encounter a confrontational customer? What happened? How did you turn the situation around?
Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with an internal customer? How did you resolve the issue?
Tell be about something you did to improve customer satisfaction at your last position.
Did you ever encounter a customer who didn’t speak English? What did you do?
Did you ever encounter a handicapped customer? How did you accommodate their needs?
Tell me about a time when you used your judgement to bend a rule for a customer. What happened?
When candidates are asked a behavioral question, they often have to stop and think. The questions are hard. Give them time. Pause and say, “Take your time, there is no rush.” Eventually, you should get some good answers. If the candidate can’t answer your tough questions, hiring the candidate is risky. Remember, employees who are expected to create exceptional customer experiences must have a good amount of personal judgement.