What does a Customer Service Test Measure?

In a series of blog posts last year I discussed the evolution of employment personality testing, from the Myers-Briggs to the “Big Five” to more job-specific personality inventories. The last of these continue to grow in popularity, especially in the fields of customer service and sales.

Our customer service test is now one of the most widely used tests in HireSelect. One reason for this is that customer service representative positions tend to have higher than average turnover, and so HR managers are constantly looking for tools that can help remedy this problem. But another reason we’re seeing these tests grow in popularity is that many organizations seem to be placing a heavy emphasis on cultivating a “culture of customer service” across an entire organization. We hear this regularly from customers as diverse as medical care providers, banks, and non-profits.  The result is that applicants for managerial and administrative positions may be asked to take these tests if their jobs will involve frequent interactions with customers and/or the public.  So these tests are not just used for Customer Service representatives anymore.

So what does a customer service personality test measure?  Our customer service test is called the Customer Service Aptitude Profile (CSAP), and it measures a series of personality traits that are widely regarded as important for successful interactions with customers.  These traits include such things as patience, cooperativeness, and personal diplomacy.  Because customer service personnel are foot soldiers on the front lines of an organization’s efforts to build and maintain its reputation and brand, companies look for individuals who will be able to answer questions and resolve customer complaints in a helpful, compassionate way. Impatience, competitiveness, and uncooperativeness may be traits that can lead to success in some fields (such as sales, actually–more on that in my next post), but they are not traits you’d look for in customer service representatives.