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Why hiring based on personality is detrimental to the customer experience.

Personality is important when hiring the right person for any job, but to what degree should it determine how you construct a hiring policy?

There’s currently a lot of talk from customer service consultants, who claim hiring based on personality traits is one of the most important elements of building a customer-centric organisation.

That’s not true. Traditional concepts of customer service do not always equate to customer centricity - it’s entirely context dependent.

In the hospitality industry it makes sense to hire an individual who is, well, hospitable. After all, the word hospitable means friendly and welcoming, which is an absolute no-brainer prerequisite for front of house functions that are almost constantly customer facing. It needn’t take a customer service consultant to reveal that to any restaurant or hotel manager.

But what about other circumstances where customer service is still paramount?

Let’s take the utilities industry as an example - if a customer calls a customer service representative to discuss a problem with their energy bill, a hospitable attitude can achieve very little, and can often be quite detrimental.

In this context, it matters little how friendly or welcoming an agent is - customer centricity comes from an agent who is able to take control, own an issue, and give the customer every confidence they will be able to resolve the problem.

On the other side of the coin, Royal Bank of Scotland has recently announced plans to build its customer service reputation by investing in machines. To do this, the bank will ‘leverage big data, predictive analytics, and real-time decisioning to deliver the right insight into every customer interaction in every channel.’

Every business needs systems to support their staff, but an overemphasis on technical capability in this way can completely hinder the quality of customer service many are investing in technology to secure. If businesses are system-driven, systems can often take ownership of the customer journey. One incorrect piece of data can create exponential effects, and the entire customer journey is influenced by completely irrelevant processes.

Whether you’re investing in happy, smiley people, or emotionless process-driven machines - when it comes to ensuring every interaction with the customer is relevant, there is no better substitute than human intuition. Genuine customer-centricity can only be achieved from empowering your staff to own issues, and by keeping the need of the customer at heart.