What Does it Take to Be a Stellar Customer Service Representative?

A customer service representative is a unique role.  Succeeding in it requires a unique combination of skills and character traits that not everyone has.  We spend a lot of time on hiring at PeopleDelight, and we not only have to evaluate for the right attitude in the hiring process, we have to test for the skills as well.  We have found that certain criteria are good leading indicators for long term success in the job, while others are red flags that should alert both the job seeker and the hiring manager that it will be hard to find long term fit.  First, let’s talk about the leading indicators.

The Leading Signals of a Great Customer Service Representative

Not all skills are learned, and when it comes to being a fantastic CSR, attitude and personality can overcome a great deal.  That is why we focus so heavily on personality indicators when we hire – we believe that most technical skills can be taught, but attitude is pretty much immutable.  Here are some of the traits we look for, and during the interview process we try to unearth specific evidence that supports them.



A problem solving attitude:  There is a common perception that the most important trait in a CSR is empathy, but a recent article from the Harvard Business Review confirms that what is often needed is the ability to problem solve creatively, rather than simply demonstrating understanding of the customer’s situation.

A tendency to “own” problems and find solutions: This is not only true in the sense that great CSRs need to be able to follow up until they find a solution.  It is also true in the sense that a good CSR takes control of the customer engagement and guides the customer to a solution with confidence. 

A desire to help others:  Problem solving may rank higher than empathy, but the fact is that if you don’t care about helping people, customer service is not for you.  A desire to help others is a key motivation in customer service and you should take energy from it.

A patient disposition:  Almost a cliche, patience is nonetheless an important skill when dealing day in and day out with customers who have gotten frustrated enough to call or email.


If you are able to find these characteristics in yourself or in a candidate, congratulations, you might just have a world class agent on your hands!