In today’s increasingly connected world, businesses are closer than ever to their customers. Just think about the last time you tweeted a company with a question or used an online chat feature to solve a problem in real time. With this digital proximity comes an intensified focus on customer satisfaction, both on- and offline. And as organizations emphasize building strong consumer relationships, a new role has emerged: the customer experience specialist.
What exactly do these professionals do, and how can they help your business? Read on to learn what you need to know about hiring a customer experience specialist.
Think beyond customer service
It’s vital to remember that customer experience (or CX) is more than customer service. While CX roles do typically entail traditional customer service duties, many incorporate marketing and analysis tasks, too. Customer experience specialists are on the front lines of consumer interaction but also contribute valuable insights to help teams across the enterprise enhance the customer experience, retain business and increase revenue.
Some of the quintessential responsibilities found in a customer experience specialist job description include:
- Developing a thorough understanding of the company’s products or services
- Serving as the primary point of contact for customers and managing correspondence via phone, email, social media and other avenues
- Responding to customer inquiries and solving issues in a timely fashion
- Tracking and analyzing customer encounters to identify errors, inconsistences and possible areas of improvement
- Understanding the needs, motivations and emotions of customers
- Helping the company improve processes and interactions to create a positive customer experience
- Using in-depth knowledge of an organization’s existing customer base to help other departments develop new products, marketing plans and engagement strategies
Look for the right skill set
Most customer experience specialists should have a background working in customer service for at least two years. Depending on your company’s needs, you may even prefer a history of employment in a specific division, such as business development, client acquisition or product training.
Additionally, top CX specialists should have a proven record of excellence in data tracking and analysis, meaning they’ll need some technological know-how. Keep in mind, however, that there’s much more to a customer experience specialist than tech savvy. While candidates should stay abreast of technological evolutions in their field, soft skills are also incredibly valuable.
In fact, research in Robert Half’s report on the future of work shows 51% of employers in the United States expect new technology to increase the demand for soft skills. Many of these are inherently human traits that computers or machines cannot replicate — and they’re characteristics the best CX specialists have in abundance.
Here are some common nontechnical skills CX candidates need for success:
- Strong listening abilities — Are they patient enough to hear and understand a customer’s concerns? Will they be able to listen without passing judgement?
- Empathy — Can they put themselves in the customer’s shoes and see things from their perspective?
- Problem-solving prowess — Do they possess the ability to understand customer issues and develop solutions accordingly? Can they then take what they’ve learned and proactively apply it to future process updates or innovations?
- Strong verbal and written communication skills — Can candidates clearly relay information to customers? Are they able to translate data analysis and interpretation to colleagues who work in marketing or web development?
- Collaborative capabilities — Can they work cohesively with other team members and departments for the good of your customers?
- Adaptability — Will they embrace change as company processes, strategies and technologies evolve?
Get to know your top candidates
The in-person interview is an invaluable experience for the hiring manager and candidates alike. You benefit by learning more about potential hires and determining if they’ll meet your business needs. In turn, customer experience specialist candidates gain a sense of whether or not they’ll fit in with your company culture and be able to fulfill the tasks associated with the position.
To make the most of the interview, ask a variety of questions. Start by focusing on CX candidates’ relevant work history and areas of expertise. For example, ask what types of CX-related software they have experience with — particularly programs for tracking and analyzing customer-related data.
It’s also helpful to inquire as to how much candidates know about your organization’s products or services. Do they understand the company they might be working for? Do they have the industry knowledge necessary to help solve your customers’ problems?
Finally, ask some pointed questions about work they’ve done to enhance the customer experience at previous companies. Do they have specific examples of how they used their customer knowledge to improve satisfaction levels? How have they worked with other teams to create a more positive customer life cycle? Have they ever seen their work make a noticeable impact on the bottom line?
Offer competitive salary and benefits
The CX specialist is an emerging role that requires an exceptional blend of skills and expertise, so it can be challenging to find talented professionals to staff open positions. When you do identify a promising individual, make sure you close the deal.
Naturally, you should offer a competitive customer experience specialist salary, but also consider sweetening the pot with attractive perks and benefits. Shout it from the rooftops if your company boasts outstanding healthcare packages and performance bonuses or valued extras like flexible work arrangements, transportation reimbursement and workplace wellness programs. These offerings enhance employee satisfaction and can often make or break a candidate’s decision to accept a job.
Perhaps most importantly: Act quickly. If you’ve found a strong candidate, don’t get bogged down and make the mistake of taking too long to hire. While you’re hemming and hawing over applicants, competitors might be extending offers that take top talent off the market.