Customer service is an attitude, not a department

Hiring purely on skills is a mistake and one that many employers make. It’s a universal truth that you can teach skills but not attitudes. I always made recruitment decisions based on positive attitude, not JUST skills and qualifications.   

Which leads me to the belief that there is no such thing as a customer service department. It’s an attitude, fundamental to business success.

Customer service is everywhere…

In my eyes, each and every person in your business is in customer service. In particular, those that interact directly with customers -from answering the phone to sending an email or delivery note.

However, their responsibility to deliver ‘customer service’ is no more or less than another individual and has nothing to do with whether it is included in their job title.


In the real world…

One hot sunny day I popped into my local Tesco Express to buy some bags of ice. Being the first hot day of the year, the freezer was, naturally, empty!

As I turned to leave, a young member of staff was walking towards me carrying some boxes of stock to stack the shelves (unfortunately, it wasn’t ice).

(In my head, I thought; “This’ll be good, but I’ll as anyway”)

“Excuse me, I don’t suppose you have more ice out the back?”

His reply:

“Just a moment sir, (as he lowered his boxes to the floor) I’ll go and take a look.”

Two minutes later he returned with arms loaded with bags of ice and said:

“Would you like me to carry them to your car?”

I’d hire him for any job! Wouldn’t you?


What lies beneath the CV…?

Sadly, the whole recruitment industry relies on one-dimensional CVs that only indicate skills and experience. They cannot possibly provide any idea of the person.

Naturally, a good face-to-face interview can bring about a conversation that may elicit what lies beneath the CV.


How can you recruit ‘an attitude’?

Easy – once an applicant has satisfied your tick boxes pre-interview, take the interview to focus on the person behind the paper.

An attitude is hard to pin-point, try to to guide your questioning by giving employees opportunity to demonstrate:



Do they take ownership of their decisions and actions? Try asking them about a difficult situation in their lives/job and how they handled it. Difficult situations occur every day, there is no use pretending otherwise. Can they demonstrate that they tried their best at the task, even in the face of adversity?



Have they taken on a course or part-time job to build their skills towards a dream job in the future? Have they adapted their life to navigate a particular problem?



What do they do outside of work? Are they showing their motivation for something ‘just because’? This could be a club, a weekly visit to their Nan, or perhaps they have created a blog about something they are passionate about.



A great attitude doesn’t mean they’ll tell stories with rose tinted glasses. Have they mentioned a difficult time or experience? Don’t avoid it, talk about it. What was their takeaway? Were they able to learn from the experience? Are they able to take a positive from the difficulty, or are they quick to feel sorry for themselves and leave it there?



You want reassurance that they’ll stay in the job and do their best. Discuss their previous employment, are they quick to bad-mouth them? How did they find their fellow employees? Do they emphasise a track record of repeat work, were they promoted? Try to go for depth and detail to get a real gauge of their trustworthiness.


In short – having a positive attitude means they will see the good in things. They’ll come across as more of a Tigger than an Eeyore when it comes to new challenges in life and work. However, they’re realistic, too!


In the world of jobs, a positive attitude means your new recruits will be more willing to make an effort and look for solutions to the little problems, as well as the big ones. They will not just give into frustration but always strive to do the best for your business and your customers.


Why not get in touch and see how I can help?

If you think your team could or should be more effective, let’s have a conversation.

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