Focus Your Training: Discover new employees' service aptitude
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Focus Your Training: Discover new employees' service aptitude

Focus Your Training: Discover new employees' service aptitude

Editor’s Note: There are many tests and tools to measure the customer service aptitude of your employees. Every company is different as are its customers, so aptitude assessment tools will differ from company to company. This one from The DiJulius Group provides a starting point to develop your own.

The Employee Service Aptitude Test (E-SAT), created by The DiJulius Group, is a tool for measuring new employees’ ability to deliver high-quality customer service.

It’s a customized test that asks 25–50 multiple-choice questions about common situations that may arise between the employee and their customer, including nonnegotiable standards, service recovery, above-and-beyond opportunities, and awkward situations. Beyond a simple job skills test or emotional intelligence test, the E-SAT tests new employee service aptitude and predicts an employee’s success in customer service.

We do not recommend using an E-SAT as an interview tool or pre-employment test. Certain questions can lead to discrimination or biased hiring practices. Prohibiting these questions helps ensure fairness, promotes diversity, and upholds equal employment opportunity principles. The E-SAT should be used with current employees rather than job candidates.

A significant number of potential employees would probably score poorly since most people’s service aptitude is extremely low. No one is born with it. Most customer-facing employees did not grow up flying first class, staying at five-star resorts, driving luxury automobiles, and enjoying other higher-end experiences. Yet managers expect those same employees to deliver a best-in-class customer experience during interactions with customers. 

It is a good bet that most of your frontline employees have previously worked for an average or less-than-average customer service company, so they were not trained on what excellent service looks like, and they were brainwashed by a policy-driven, ironfisted manager who taught them that customers will take advantage of businesses.

Nearly every company states that it has a customer-first philosophy, but how many back that up? New employees typically get initial training on a company’s operational processes—product knowledge, how to do the fundamentals of the job, and so on—but very little, if any, customer service or soft-skill training is invested up front. This is why it is so important to incorporate a service aptitude test into your new employee training.

Best time to test

The best way to use the E-SAT is to give it right before and right after the new customer support agent goes through initial training.

It can be obvious which of the answers is the correct one. Often, however, the new employee would not have considered selecting that answer prior to taking the test. When an employee does answer a question incorrectly, ask them to explain. Many will say, “At my last job, I would have gotten in trouble if I did that.” These are great opportunities to establish your service culture and explain, “At our company, we want you to trust our customers and give them the benefit of the doubt. You will rarely get in trouble for something you do; instead, it would be for something you didn’t do.”

Create an E-SAT by brainstorming with other leaders about scenarios that come up regularly. Once you have a dozen questions, each week something will come up, and you’ll think, “That would be a great question to add.” These evolving conversations will provide a huge boost to your customer relations experience training, resulting in a team well-versed in delivering on your brand’s product and service guarantee.

John DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies such as Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or info@thedijuliusgroup.com.

Sample Questions

1. What if a customer wants a product we are out of stock on?

a. Tell them we are out of stock and to call back next month.

b. Offer a product of lesser quality at the same price.

c. Offer a product of better quality at the same price.

d. Recommend a competitor’s website.

e. Other:_________

2. How do I handle a customer upset that the price of their product increased? What do I say to an angry customer?

a. Give it to them at a lower price.

b. Empathize and explain the need for the increase and refer to a sales rep for special pricing. 

c. Offer another model at a lower price.

d. Say, “Too bad, so sad.”

e. Other:_________

3. What if a guest calls the reservation center with a complaint?

a. Ask them to calm down. Tell them you only work here, and you “didn’t create the policy, so stop yelling.” Transfer them to a salon. 

b. Demonstrate active listening skills and empathy. Apologize for the inconvenience and let them know you will do whatever you can to make things right. Thank them for the feedback: “It helps us to improve our service.” Let them know you will personally look into the situation and ask if there is anything else you can do. Follow through.

c. Roll your eyes. While they are talking, put down the phone and pick it up occasionally to say, “Uh-huh, I see.” 

d. Say, “I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that. We are always having that problem.” Tell them you will send them a gift certificate for next time, but you can’t promise it will be any better.

Published: April 6th, 2024

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