What’s the culture at your company? At Headsets.com, it’s respect. The Headsets.com experience is defined by the attitude of the customer service rep you reach when you call, and how you feel when you hang up the phone from your conversation with him or her. That experience has fueled the company’s growth. At Headsets.com, 52 phone reps work with customers, guiding them through the maze of selecting the product that is right for them.
“At the core of that call is respect,” says founder and CEO Mike Faith. “The customer deserves our respect. Sometimes they could be wrong. But they always deserve our respect.” And that’s why if any one of those reps rolls his or her eyes, acts exasperated, or does not give customers the respect they deserve, that is the end of that rep’s job at Headsets.com.
Compromising Culture Hinders Growth
To ensure that disrespect is a rarity, Headsets.com is very rigorous in how they screen and hire candidates. Before they are hired, candidates go through what Mike Faith calls a day of customer service tryouts. This includes up to eight interviews. Candidates talk to a voice coach (to check for warmth, tone, and empathy) and a business psychologist, to understand how they react to pressure and how they might, for example, keep their exasperation in check when customer calls escalate. They are tested for memory and English usage and grammar. They sit in on calls. After these initial screens, multiple interviews inside the company determine if they are a “fit” for the Headsets.com culture and customer commitment.
This rigor is in place because reps are encouraged to trust their gut in how they interact with customers. And respect is paramount to these interactions. Although rarely acted upon (because of the rigor used during selection), this commitment to making disrespect a “fireable” offense helps reps who have had a long work shift, or a chatty customer asking obvious questions, remember that customers are entitled to their point of view, to their rant, and to have their say.
Rules for Customer Respect
Headsets.com is, according to Mike Faith, “dedicated to customer love.” Respect for customers is at the core of that love. The company is a success because of their ability to sustain service passion. Only one in 30 applicants who goes through their customer service tryouts makes it into the company as a Headsets.com rep. And once you’re there, customer respect rules. Rigorous? Absolutely. But effective? Something must be working. This company focusing on selling headsets grew from a $40,000 investment in 1998 to $30 million in revenue in recent years.
How do you decide who to pick as the people who will deliver your special blend of service, support and personal connection to your customers? Is your interview process as unique as your business? Should you give applicants a “customer service tryout” like Headsets.com does?