Here’s why you might be hiring the wrong people for customer support.

Most people think that to be a good customer support agent you need to be a good listener and enjoy solving other people’s problems. In other words, someone who’s empathetic.

Sure, those personality traits are important. However, agents who are empathetic, good listeners and who try to understand other people’s problems, are not the best performers.

Almost every manager they spoke to assumed the best pick for their customer support team would be the Empathisers. But, they were completely outperformed by the Controllers who were more efficient and increased customer satisfaction overall.

The Controllers are described as “outspoken, opinionated” and those who “like demonstrating expertise and directing the customer interaction”. But, why are they better at customer support than all the other profiles?

According to Harvard Business Review, “they are driven to deliver fast, easy service and are comfortable exerting their strong personalities in order to demonstrate their expertise”. They take control and guide the customer through the best possible experience, which in this case is getting the problem solved fast.

This is important because Controllers are efficient and able to solve the most complex issues.

“Controllers focus less on asking customers what they’d like to do and more on telling them what they should do—the aim always being to get to the fastest and easiest resolution.”
— Harvard Business Review

How do you hire them?

It’s not that difficult to find people who fit the Controller profile. However, you need to know exactly how to get them to apply to a customer support role.

Chances are, they never worked in customer service before. So, if you ask in the job description for previous experience in the field you probably won’t get the people you need. Instead, you can figure out if the person you’re trying to hire is good at solving logistical problems. For example, if the person organised a group trip or a sports tournament before, that’s a pretty good indicator because both tasks can turn into logistical nightmares.

Also, understand that the controller is someone who likes to express his or her personality and handle issues on their own, which often means going off script. For this reason, if you make the job opening look like you’re looking for someone good with processes and who can follow the rules, you’re not going to attract the right crowd. Controllers like to be trusted to exercise their own judgement and that’s what makes them so efficient.

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