Three Traits of a Rockstar Support Rep

Don’t call it a listicle…

One of the topics I am most proud to discuss is my team at Lyft. I can’t take credit for building all of it, but I can own the fact that many of the candidates I interviewed or recruited to work for Lyft ended up being the highest performers, often being put on the fast-track to leadership roles.

What did I look for in candidates, and what prompts should you be including in your interviews?

They need to be a combination of Mother Theresa…

“Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a customer’s issue that you thought was a waste of time.”

What am I looking for here? Empathy and resilience. The core of this idea is that every customer’s problem is their biggest problem in that moment, and recognizing and acknowledging those feelings are the first step in reaching a solution and repairing the relationship.

Support reps also can’t take anything personally, and while I don’t expect them to remain blindingly optimistic (a certain dose of realism is a good thing), they must believe that things can and will get better and continue to drive towards it. I want to know if this person can handle dealing with everyone else’s issues, no matter how big or small, 8 hours a day, and still remain a positive and effective force on my team. Your job as a manager is to maintain this attitude, but they must possess the capacity for these traits in the first place.

At Lyft, our ticket loads often outgrew our capacity to handle them, especially when major events occurred. It was easy for associates to become jaded as they handled the same situation over and over again, while still trying to appear as though they were coming to the conversation fresh. Most support teams can break under these circumstances, but with the right people (and some good morale boosting by management), you can survive, and even thrive. Hard times breed camaraderie.

…Sherlock Holmes…

“Tell me about a time when something, anything,(big or small) broke, rendering your previous processes and methods useless, and you had no obvious way to fix the situation. How did you handle it?”

In this scenario, I want to know how they handle utter chaos and uncertainty. Every great customer service rep is also a master sleuth at piecing together disparate pieces of information, and coming up with probable causes, which will present solutions. This is the process of inductive reasoning, the process used by Mr. Holmes himself.

These reps will eventually know more about your product than anyone else in the company, and therefore are excellent at understanding the big picture, and how one break or change no matter how seemingly innocuous can affect everything else.

…and they have to be a productivity machine no matter the circumstances.

At the foundation of it all, someone is only good at their job if they can produce results, and CS reps often do so under immense pressure. In the previous scenario, look for how the person responded to the crisis in addition to their problem solving skills. Did it motivate them to find creative ways to handle a larger-than-normal amount of tickets? Did they put their head down and work for 12 hours straight? Were they reacting frantically, or helping motivate their team? Good answers will vary, and give you an indicator of who you’re hiring; will they struggle when under the gun, or be a calming presence when everyone around them is losing their heads?

Make it fit your process

These are not the only questions you should be asking in an interview. There’s dozens of other blogs and posts that will tell you how to interview for culture fit, critical thinking, etc. My point is that when it comes to customer service hires, you’re basically looking for a unicorn, though most companies will settle for less. Whatever you do, focus on finding that unicorn, especially in the early days. Your customers will thank you.

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