The Employee Service Aptitude Test
One of the best tools for measuring if an employee’s service aptitude is high enough to start interacting with a company’s customer is the Employee Service Aptitude Test (E-SAT), created by The DiJulius Group. The E-SAT is a customized test that asks approximately 25-50 multiple-choice questions about common situations that may arise between the employee and their customer, ranging from nonnegotiable standards, service recovery, and above-and-beyond opportunities, to uncomfortable and awkward situations that are not uncommon. Beyond a simple job skills test or emotional intelligence test, the E-SAT is a fantastic tool for testing new employee service aptitude and a much more accurate predictor of an employee’s success in their customer service role.
Avoiding Bias: When NOT to Give the E-SAT
We do NOT recommend using an E-SAT as an interview tool or pre-employment test, for several reasons. The first reason is that certain questions can lead to discrimination or biased hiring practices, either intentionally or unintentionally. Prohibiting these questions helps ensure fairness in the hiring process, promotes diversity, and upholds equal employment opportunity principles. The E-SAT should be used with current employees rather than job candidates.
The second reason is 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; it is not innate.
There are three things that shape everyone’s service aptitude:
The first is life experiences. Most customer-facing employees did not grow up flying first class, staying at five-star resorts, driving a luxury automobile, and enjoying other higher-end experiences. Yet we, as managers, expect those same employees to be able to deliver a best-in-class customer experience during interactions with customers. Clients, guests, patients, or whomever we call our Customers may be accustomed to these types of experiences. It doesn’t make any sense.
The second factor is that service aptitude is shaped by our previous work experiences. It is a good bet that most of your front-line employees have previously worked for an average or less-than-average Customer service company, which means that not only were they not trained on what excellent service looks like, but they were brainwashed by a policy-driven, ironfisted manager who taught them that Customers are out to take advantage of businesses.
The final and only thing we can control is the current work experience. Nearly every company states that it has a Customer-first philosophy, but how many really 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 upfront. Actions speak louder than words. This is why it is so important to incorporate the E-SAT into your new employee training.
The Best Time for the E-SAT
The best way to use the E-SAT is to give it right before and right after the new customer support agent goes through their initial training, to monitor how their service aptitude has increased.
It can be obvious to the new employee which of the multiple-choice answers is the correct one. Often, however, that new employee would not have even considered selecting that answer prior to taking the test. When an employee does answer a question incorrectly and we ask why they didn’t choose the answer we wanted them to choose, many times they will say, “At my last job, I would have gotten in trouble if I did that.” These are great training and learning opportunities. We get to establish our service culture and explain, “At our company, we want you to trust our wide range of 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.”
Examples of E-SAT Questions
1. What if a customer wants a product we are currently out of stock on?
A. Tell them we are out of stock and to call back next month.
B. Offer another product of lesser quality at the same price.
C. Offer another product of better quality at the same price.
D. Recommend a competitor’s website.
E. Other: _______________________________________________________________
2. How do I handle it if a customer is upset that the price of their product went up?
A. Give it to them at a lower price.
B. Empathize, 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, that you “didn’t create the policy”, and to stop yelling at you; immediately 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 them if there is anything else you can do. Follow-through.
C. Roll your eyes, and 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.
4. From the following choose the best response to a service provider running late:
A. We know how valuable your time is and regret any inconvenience this may cause you.
B. We do our best to always remain on schedule, but unforeseen circumstances sometimes arise.
C. We are so sorry, but you can be certain that your appointment will not be rushed because of this, and your service provider will always spend your scheduled amount of time with you. We appreciate your patience and would like to offer you a complimentary (value-added service) while you are waiting.
D. I am sorry your service provider is running behind, I can see if another service provider is available, or we can reschedule if it is more convenient for you.
Creating an E-SAT for Your Unique Organization
Creating an E-SAT is easy. Just brainstorm with other leaders about common scenarios that come up in your customer service consultants’ interactions with your Customers. You only need a few, and the floodgates will open. Once you get started, and have a dozen questions, each week something will come up with a customer, and you will think, “That would be a great question to add to our E-SAT.” 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.
CX in the News
CEO Replaces 90% of Customer Service Staff with AI
Increasingly, businesses are relying on AI-powered chatbots for customer service due to their efficiency and ability to provide 24/7 assistance. Indian start-up Dukaan came under scrutiny after its CEO, Suumit Shah, announced that 90% of its support staff had been replaced by an AI chatbot. Shah defended the move, citing the need to enhance customer service and prioritize profitability over mere growth aspirations.
The reasoning behind the shift from humans to AI is due to wanting quicker and more accurate responses. Continuous support, beneficial for companies with global clients. And adaptability, as these AI bots learn and evolve over time. However, Shah has faced public backlash, being criticized on social media for the mass layoff and perceived indifference to affected employees.
This is a worldwide concern. A report by Goldman Sachs indicated the potential automation of 300 million jobs due to AI. Some believe that AI will lead to a shift in job types, rather than an outright net loss. Roles in data analysis, programming, and AI development might increase.
AI can’t replace all human touchpoints in customer service; a balance between human and AI support is crucial. While AI bots are revolutionizing customer service with numerous benefits, it’s essential to ensure a balance with human interaction to offer the best customer experience.