This post is by Jill Nelson, founder & CEO of Ruby Receptionists, a leading live virtual receptionist service and Fortune magazine’s #1 Small Company to Work For in the U.S
Companies have more choices now than ever when it comes to hiring employees, but finding the right employees is no easy task. When it comes to impressing and retaining clients, “fine” customer service is table stakes. Knocking it out of the park? That will truly set your business apart.
So how do you set up your business for “WOW-worthy” service? The kind of experiences that take customers aback, make them stop, and just say, “Wow?” It all starts with hiring the right staff, empowering them and finding ways to WOW them as well, and they’ll pay it forward.
5 Tips for Hiring and Developing the Right Employees
- Know what you stand for. First and foremost, define your mission and your values. Why are you in business? What would you never sacrifice, no matter what?
- Hire for cultural fit. Once you’ve identified your values, integrate them into your hiring process. It’s much easier to teach someone a new skill than to change someone’s attitude. At Ruby, a positive attitude and can-do spirit are two key attributes we look for.
- Host “sit-withs,” not interviews. You’ll be hard-pressed to see “can-do attitude” or “lives to fulfill unexpressed needs” on a candidate’s resume. In addition to some more traditional Q and A with a manager, each perspective Ruby gets a tour of our office, learns about our values, and has an opportunity to sit with a current receptionist. During that time, we get a good indication as to his or her passions and whether they’d be a good fit for our team.
- Fine-tune your systems and training. When you hire based on culture, you may sacrifice work experience. Having the right systems and training in place will be crucial to your new employee’s success. At Ruby, we have training for everything: How to make a hard-of-hearing caller happy, how to make an upset caller happy, how to greet someone when they walk in the front door. Nail these systems down, but don’t be afraid to adjust them or create new ones as you grow.
- Foster personal and professional growth. Who doesn’t want happier and more fulfilled employees? Offer them incentives that make them not only appreciate, but value their role. In addition to tuition reimbursement, Ruby offers a five-week paid sabbatical for every five years of employment. This paid time off also includes a $1,000 grant and coaching sessions with a positive psychologist to help employees achieve a dream they might not otherwise have been able to accomplish.
5 Tips for Creating a Positive Culture Employees Love
- Create a WOW-Worthy Office. Our clients are spread out across the U.S., and therefore, we don’t get a lot of visitors. People often ask why our virtual receptionists work out of such beautiful offices. But I say, “Why not?” If you want to foster happiness with employees, start with the environment. Brighten the space with cheery paint. Open up the floor plan to encourage collaboration between coworkers and offer small perks that make being at work enjoyable. At Ruby, we also keep Stumptown coffee flowing, have a fitness room for group classes and splendid pink bathrooms to name a few that make employees feel special, cared for, and actually look forward to coming to work.
- Celebrate successes. Why stop at a holiday party? Give employees something else to look forward to by hosting a summer party or happy hour at the end of each month. They’ll relish the opportunity to create community with coworkers off the clock, and it’s another way to look back on what you’ve all accomplished so far.
- Incent. Keep things fresh and engaging by creating quarterly incentive campaigns. Anything from a game of bingo to learn fun facts about your customers or a booklet with prompts to encourage learning new skills. Offer a group prize like catered lunch or individual prize like extra PTO.
- Inspire. Share your employees’ best customer service stories with the rest of the team. We hand out “Core Values in Action” awards at every staff meeting. Those with the “WOW Story of the Quarter” – the most outrageous, impactful, or powerful client connection – gets a crisp $100 bill in addition to their commemorative wooden plaque.
- Empower. Give employees the tools to go out and create legendary stories of their own. For example, an employee suggested that we send care packages to clients who are under the weather. As a direct result, Rubys can now log into a prepaid Amazon account to buy anything for any client, for any reason, no questions asked. We even set up a “WOW Station,” stocked with boxes and cards, to empower employees to make each package beautiful, on-brand and personalized.
In an increasingly technology-focused world, there’s a real hunger and need to create personal, meaningful connections. That’s the pinnacle of WOW-worthy customer experiences. To deliver consistently superior service, it certainly helps that your employees have the right tools and drive to make those connections!
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