How to Attract and Recruit the Right Service Talent
By Ron Kaufman
There is a time-tested maxim: what you think about expands in life, and what you focus on becomes clearer. What you see and say repeatedly will shape the way you live today and who you will become tomorrow.
You can apply this principle when recruiting new team members by following these four steps to hire the right talent for your service culture. Start by making it easy for candidates to consistently see, hear, and understand what your organization thinks about service.
Those who align with your vision and values will be drawn closer and want to learn more about your spirit and purpose. Those who think, feel, or believe differently won’t be attracted, and will naturally select themselves out. Both are positive outcomes for your culture and your future.
1. Share Your Engaging Service Vision
Use every opportunity to explain your Engaging Service Vision to prospective candidates. Place an uplifting message about your company culture on the website, in your employment ads, and in all the literature. Stress the importance of your service vision with your staff when you ask them to make new employee referrals and recommendations.
When job seekers apply, ask them to share in their own words what your service vision means to them. You can quickly check if candidates are aligned with your service vision by asking good questions and listening carefully to their answers.
For example, if your vision includes being proactive in adding value, you might ask, “What do you consider great service when helping new customers?” If an applicant says, “Giving them exactly what they ask for and doing it quickly,” that’s different from a candidate who says, “Giving new customers what they ask for, but also making recommendations to help them understand what might help them even more.”
If your vision includes going the extra mile, you might ask, “Tell me about a time you were most proud of your service achievement.” If an applicant proudly explains how he or she delivered a project on time and on budget, that’s different from someone who tells you about things he or she did for someone else that were never planned for in the first place.
If your vision involves working closely as a collaborating team, you could ask, “Tell me how you achieved one of your greatest service successes.” If the candidate responds with lots of “I,” “my,” and “me,” that’s different from someone who tells you about “us,” “our,” and “we.”
2. Involve Your Culture Leaders
As the service culture in your organization grows stronger, some of your team members will become culture leaders. These people are like tuning forks—vibrating strongly, keeping everyone else in key, and helping your symphony of employees, managers, and departments serve more smoothly and skillfully together. In a recruitment situation, these tuning forks can easily assess who will resonate with the culture and should be hired, and who is far off key.
That’s why Google requires so many on-campus, in-person interviews for candidates with its already “Googley” employees. Deeply loyal customers can become brand ambassadors and leaders of your culture, too. That’s why Southwest Airlines involves its most loyal frequent flyers in final stages of new executive selection. This makes a powerful statement to both sides. To loyal customers it says that Southwest Airlines will only hire people who are absolutely dedicated to serving and delighting the customer. And to new employees this sends an even more unmistakable message: that they must be genuinely dedicated to uplifting customer service. After all, who made the final recommendation to hire you?
3. Ask Your Candidates to Get to Know Your Service
For real insight into your applicants’ service mindset and understanding, ask them to experience your service, evaluate your competitor’s service, and then make suggestions to improve your current service. If they can’t see anything you might do better, you might be happy with their performance for a while. But if your candidate comes back with constructive ideas, or suggestions for a new best practice, you will be more successful—and for much longer—when that person joins your team.
4. Involve All of Your Staff as Recruiters
Your people already know and understand your service culture. Ask them to make recommendations of people they know, or who
they have worked with in the past, who would be great additions to the team. That’s why Starbucks gets and keeps so many successful
new employees—because their current baristas are deeply involved in the local recruiting, screening, and selection process. Your best customers already know and appreciate your service. You can ask them for new hire recommendations, too.
Questions for Service Providers
• What are you doing to attract the best people to join your organization?
• How can you more actively participate in your organization’s Service Recruitment process?
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