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3 Traits to Look For in Your Next Customer Experience Candidate

By Emily Lambert | November 9, 2018
3 Traits to Look For in Your Next Customer Experience Candidate

You’re likely no stranger to the challenge that comes with retaining customer experience employees.

Roles like call center agents, customer success managers, and account managers see a lot of churn; the average annual turnover rate in the call center industry alone is between 30 and 45 percent (compared to the U.S. average of 15.1 percent across all jobs).

Here at Plum, we collect a lot of data. Since Plum’s launch in 2012, over 260,000 people have taken our talent assessment, and thousands of job experts have told us what kind of applicants they want to hire. A few times a year, we leverage our unique human potential datasets to address different problems. Our previous Talent Trends Report took a look at sales professional and quota-carrying roles, examining the gaps between the behavioral traits of applicants and what employers were looking for in an ideal candidate. We took a similar approach in our Talent Trends Report: Customer Experience Edition, as we we examined applicant and employer data to determine why talent gaps may be contributing to such high turnover in these roles.

We found that job experts were prioritizing 3 traits in their competency models for customer experience roles  orderliness, stability, and industriousness. Yet, none of these traits appear in the top 3 traits of applicants applying for customer experience roles. In fact, a whopping one-quarter of applicants score lowest in one of the traits prioritized by job experts — industriousness.

Even though job experts agree that industriousness (the ability to aspire to high goals) is important to succeed in customer-facing roles, one-quarter of customer experience applicants score low in industriousness.

But first, what do orderliness, stability, and industriousness mean, and why do job experts widely agree that these are the building blocks of a stellar customer experience candidate?

[Read the report: Get the full version of the Talent Trends Report: Customer Experience Edition here]

Orderliness

People with high orderliness prefer to be organized and have a plan. These kinds of people act deliberately, and are focused on quality. According to job experts, orderliness is the #1 trait to look for in a customer experience candidate. That’s probably because customer experience professionals with high orderliness are meticulous with ticket management, customer operations, and success plan management. They are also thorough and detail-oriented with customer needs across stakeholder groups, interests, and departments.

Stability

Next up, job experts say that stability is also an important trait in high-performing customer experience professionals. Stability refers to remaining calm under pressure, being even-tempered, and being resistant to the effects of unexpected changes. Customer experience professionals with high stability thrive in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. They are able to provide consistent and uniform service across multiple customer interactions. They’re also able to maintain composure when handling upset customers and calmly drive escalations to an equitable close.

Industriousness

And thirdly, job experts agree that industriousness is necessary in a customer experience applicant if they’re going to thrive in the role. People who are industrious maintain high standards, aspire to challenging goals, and are willing to put forth extra effort. In a customer experience role, this looks like driving to attain and surpass targets for customers’ satisfaction and success. They are also able to persevere to manage and overcome complicated customer issues, and are motivated to continuously improve the customer success process.

Even though job experts widely prioritize industriousness as a top trait in customer experience professionals, a staggering 25% of customer experience applicants are extremely low in industriousness.

Conclusion

Even though job experts widely agree that orderliness, stability, and industriousness are key traits in high-performing customer experience professionals, the majority of customer experience applicants in our database scored high in mannerliness, compassion, and social intelligence.

Based on this data, it appears that job seekers who display more stereotypically “nice” traits are the ones who are self-selecting themselves into the application process. Although traits like mannerliness and compassion may address more immediate, short-term needs in an organization (such as upping overall customer satisfaction), job experts are striving to be more future-focused in their hiring decisions. Employers want candidates who can operate in a fast-paced, changing environment, and who can drive to adapt processes based on changing business needs.

The tension between future-focused employer needs and applicants operating in (perhaps more outdated) ideals of what makes a good customer-facing employee likely accounts for the outrageous turnover rate that occurs in customer experience roles. After all, when people get into roles where their natural talents aren’t being leveraged, they are more likely to burn out, and therefore leave their job.

The tension between future-focused employer needs and applicants operating in (perhaps more outdated) ideals of what makes a good customer-facing employee likely accounts for the outrageous turnover rate that occurs in customer experience roles.

For actionable tips on how to attract and hire talent with high orderliness, stability, and industriousness, check out our Talent Trends Report: Customer Experience Edition.

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