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How to identify the quintessential customer service personality

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7th Oct 2013
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Software Advice recently published a psychological profile of the quintessential customer service personality: “The Giver.” Managing editor Holly Regan, who compiled much of the research, answers questions about how to identify these characteristics in customer service representatives and what to look for when hiring them. 

What are the key characteristics of a Giver and what makes them unique from other personality types?

A well-balanced team strategically places different personalities in the roles that work best for them. Typically, Givers are loyal, selfless individuals. They naturally put others first and genuinely want to help the company and their co-workers. Being a part of a team energizes them, and they thrive in a group environment. They are motivated to please others and tend to go above and beyond, often coming in early and staying late.

What makes Givers great candidates for customer service roles?

Givers are motivated by taking care of people, which makes them perfect for customer support roles. Here, their tendency to put others first works in the best interest of customers, co-workers and management. Givers are diplomats who want to see everyone satisfied: in a customer service environment, an employee who is naturally inclined to solve problems and make people happy is pure gold. And perhaps most importantly, Givers are loyal. While customer service roles tend to have a high turnover rate, Givers’ investment in the company they work for is personal, and they often don’t want to leave.

Are there any types of customer service roles that Givers won’t excel in?

Yes. Givers will not thrive in an environment where they’re dealing with a high level of customer dissatisfaction. So don’t let them man the complaint line. They can become disheartened and discouraged by angry or belligerent customers, so if they do end up in such a role, you need to have a solid escalation process in place.

The profile talks about how all personality types, including Givers, have problem areas. What are the challenges for a Giver, and how can they be overcome?

Certain characteristics that make Givers great can serve as a double-edged sword. For example, Givers have a tendency to always put others first—which can result in burnout from giving too much. Since they don’t like to rock the boat, they also tend to suffer in silence, so it’s important to keep a lookout for Givers who may be overworking themselves.

Employers should promote open dialogue with their customer service team about what’s working and what’s not. Give them an open forum to make suggestions for improvement in a positive way, and they’ll be more likely to communicate potential problems.

How do you identify a Giver in the hiring process? Are there specific things to ask a potential candidate?

In an interview, you can determine whether or not a candidate is a Giver by probing them for examples of their behavioral characteristics. For instance, ask about a time they went above and beyond to help customer or a colleague. Other questions you can ask include, “Can you give me an example of a time you stayed late or worked extra hours to complete a project?” or “How would your current or previous boss describe you?”. To gauge their maturity level and ability to speak up for themselves, you can ask things like, “Can you describe a time that you’ve resolved a conflict at work?”.

What is the best way to motivate and manage a Giver?

Givers are naturally motivated by the opportunity to serve their team and the company. Because they thrive so much on doing the right thing, following the rules and solving problems, any criticism from an employer should be constructive and tempered with positive feedback. If they feel like they’re being attacked or not meeting expectations after giving so much of themselves to their work, it can be damaging for them.   

Givers are also motivated by appreciation and acknowledgement. Because they are selfless, they tend to put the organization’s advancement above their own. Employers should keep an eye out for their Givers’ best interests. If there are opportunities for advancement in compensation or role progression, they’re not inclined to seek that out—you may have to do it for them. And if you do, you’ll earn their loyalty in return. 

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