Training Talks: How to Identify Customer Service Skills: A Chat with Patrick Hawkins

At Lessonly, we’ve helped hundreds of teams across the globe learn, practice, and Do Better Work. We found that the best teams examine their training efforts through six key phases: Assess, Plan, Build, Learn, Practice, and Perform. That’s why we decided to create Lessonly’s Better Work Guide to Customer Service Training

In the process of putting together The Better Work Guide, Lessonly’s VP of Marketing, Kyle Lacy talked with Patrick Hawkins, Senior Manager of Customer Support at Virtru. With experience hiring customer service reps for numerous organizations, he knows what it takes for a technical customer support rep to be successful. See the skills he looks for when hiring for his team and how to identify them early on. 

Kyle: Patrick, great to talk to you! I’d love to talk about customer service skills. What skills do you think are the most important, and what skills do you look for on your team?

Patrick: Great question. It’s definitely a varied skillset, and it’s a tough profile to find. For example, one of my really great hires at another organization described it as both a tech-trovert. A technical expert is kind of a rarity, right? Usually, when you have someone who is extremely technical and has a computer science background, they just want to be in the screen. They don’t want to deal with the messy and buggy side of software as a service. A lot of people don’t enjoy it, but occasionally you come across someone who is a people person who understands technology. The just get the importance of empowering people.

So, those are the skillsets that I look for. There’s typically a technical interview, especially if it’s for an actual engineering position. We put candidates through tactical interviews with customer success managers who ask about their prioritization skills. They also have “homework” that includes writing samples and customer scenarios to see how they’d react in real life. 

See our list of must-have customer service skills for today’s reps and agents. Check out Lessonly’s Better Work Guide for Customer Service Training.

Kyle: Okay. So you’re basically practicing with each candidate, which is great.

Patrick: Yes, I want to see their work output before I bring them on. Focusing on actual skills in play as part of the interview process is key. 

Kyle: It sounds like you’re very much involved in the training and enablement of the team. Do you ever look at how to improve what your agents practice?

Patrick: Absolutely. The difficulty with training is that whenever I’ve seen it done, there’s a one-time effort that lasts for only a few months. Everyone will rally and come up with this training program. Then, it stays the same for a year or two years, and no one revisits it. 

“The business is changing, the products are changing, the teams are changing. If you really want a really great, up-to-date training program, it’s constant work. “

-Patrick Hawkins, Senior Manager of Customer Support at Virtru

You have to be okay with that and it has to be part of your process. I literally keep a training spreadsheet open on my browser. It’s one of my default tabs in Chrome. I use it like a Gantt chart that shows resources agents need to be self-sufficient within 90 days of starting. That’s the goal. Training is always front and center. It should be a day-to-day ongoing effort. 

Do Better Work with Lessonly’s Customer Service Training Guide

Customer service and your new hires’ skills matter more than ever. Don’t miss your chance to get insights, best practices, and tangible steps to Do Better Work. Read The Better Work Guide to Customer Service Training and get started today.

The Next Step Toward Better Work
Bad news early