The journey to success is full of bumps, uncertainties, bottlenecks, and challenges. Having a business and running a business are two different things. Customer service has emerged as the ultimate weapon to win the battle. Ironically, everyone knows about it, but only a few are able to harness its power. What’s your strategy? How do you define good customer service skills?
There are no prizes to guess that customer service is the driving factor that can take your business to a pinnacle of success. Every year, businesses pour in billions of dollars to provide champion customer support. Still, around 80% of the customers say they are not content with the support services. Even the business owners also think that the level of assistance they offer to the customer is just at or below the average par.
You know what it means? It tells us that, all that stacks of money are spent to just accomplish a sub-par level of customer experience. This is horrendous and worrisome. Something is lacking for sure. I read somewhere that instead of just investing blindly, business owners should ensure to sharpen the customer service skills of their agents.
Glossary: What is Call Center Agent
So, how much do the customer service representative skills contribute to the growth of a business? Take a guess!
Well, as per the stats, 90% of the businesses that work on the enhancement and nourishment of their employee’s skills needed for customer service, experience much better engagement and loyalty rate of their patrons.
There is no other way!
If you want to rise above the clutter of competition that is increasing every day it becomes an essentiality that your employees have excellent customer service skills.
As per the stats, only 5 % of the brands exceed the expectations of the customers, while 62% are able to match the promised level and a good 29% simply misses out on fulfilling the desires of patrons. The numbers are crying out loud about the quintessence of customer support and the big void that has been created by the incompetence of a majority of businesses.
Some of the organizations hence take the nimble decision to outsource their customer service to a well-known BPO company. These BPO service providers offer stringent training to their agents ensuring a lit and apex level customer experience. But not all of these specialized service providers also match the expectation level of the customers.
So, we decided to jot down some of the compelling customer service tips that would help your business to attain a zenithal position in the market. Take a look:
1. Eloquent communication dexterity
For any company to attain success, professionals who show a persuasive conversation competence are a topmost priority. You can seek any organization, the person who is most powerful in communication and logically sound mostly belongs to the sales team. This is so because if you don’t have a firm convincing ability you cannot bring business to your organization. It is a fundamental necessity.
However, what you and most people do not know is that persuasive proficiency is also valuable when you are offering customer support. One of the most excellent customer service skills is the capacity to gain the confidence of patrons in the unlikeliest of situations.
So, to all the business owners and call center managers, train your agents to be confident, eloquent, and fervent in the customer interaction. Customers love to exchange words with the agents who are vehement and zealous in their approach. Only the avid professionals are able to convert a customer support call into a sales deal.
Customer service is an experience that brands offer to their patrons and in return, the latter impose their trust on the former. It is a two-way process. And what factor does this trust rely on? The comprehension.
If the support agents are not able to understand the pain of the patrons, the entire purpose to provide customer service fails terribly. Hence, if we are talking about the skills needed for customer service, compassion/empathy lies in the top bracket. Most of the successful customer service representatives have told that this skill is honed over time.
When an agitated or disappointed customer calls you, the first thing he/she expects is someone to hear and apprehend it. Being a good empathizer means you are not only ready to listen to the customers’ grievances but also respect their words. This impresses customers incredibly. Imagine if a customer calls up and the agent overlook the trouble of former what is going to happen. The customer will experience a lousy service and probably would never do business with you again.
So, provide a special training to your agents telling them to listen and understand what is bothering your customers. Hearing carefully and feeling the pain of the customer will also provide the agents with a holistic picture of the situation, which will help them while offering the most appropriate solution. Doing so will help you to win the trust of your customers, which is more valuable than anything for your business.
“Not every day is same” quote fits perfectly well for a customer service agent. People often ask me about the most appropriate customer service skills set or what are good customer service skills. The only answer that comes to my mind is that yes, being polite, empathetic, etc is essential, but you need an ability that compliments all these skills. That is the potentiality to be adaptive in nature.
Customer preferences are changing at a rapid pace and a diligent customer support expert needs to be ready to face any ambiguous situation with an open mind. Today customer might have called you but tomorrow, it can be an email, chat message, text or a social media post. What then?
An agent who is not ready to accustom with the changing trends and technology can never offer a phenomenal service experience to the customers. High-end CRMs are available that fuse in all the information of customers by developing integrated tickets. You have to coach your agents to be liberal in their approach so that customers may feel relaxed approaching your business through any medium. The easier it is for customers to contact you, better the engagement rate.
4. Being positive
Words, if presented in different ways, can influence our mind variedly. It is not subjective but it is directive. The way you want to sail your ship decides your future journey. Especially, when the employees are on the front-line and are facing customers directly (verbally, textually, or visually), the way you convey the dialogue speaks volume about the quality of support service level.
Another side of this coin is to train the agents to be optimistic in the oddest of circumstances. There will be times when the customer will reach you in extreme frustration, irritation, and anger. Now, being a customer service agent, you will have to empathize with your patron but don’t sound low. Be upbeat. Take the entire conversation slowly and guide it towards positivity. This can be done by using positive words and optimistic language. Do not forget to thank your customers at the end of an interaction. It shows that you are obliged for your customers’ endurance, understanding, and priceless allegiance.
Did you know: Only 30% of the brands offer the expected value to the customers at a correct price slab?
5. Transparent conversation
As per a survey, 33 % of the business owners admit that clear communication competence is one of the most important customer service skills that support agents should have. It is sounding so obvious, right?
I mean, this is the most primary requirement of a customer service agent, to be cloudless in the interaction. Astonishingly, around 21% of the customers reported unclear communication as the major reason for leaving a business.
Issues like lack of concentration, causal attention, unclear verbal fluency, mumbling, etc can irritate or offer extreme dissatisfaction to the customers. Being compassionate, ethical, and optimistic is all fine but clear communication sums up the above qualities into a smooth conversation. Call center and business owners hence must focus on offering a specific schedule to make the agents understand why sound communication is paramount and how to do it.
Did you know: A mere 21% organizations offer personalization in the customer service?
6. Never take it personally
There is a famous Hollywood flick known as ‘Forrest Gump’, which has an opening statement, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get”. (I love that movieJ)
But the opening dialogue reflects the life of customer service representatives quite perfectly. In fact, the ambiguity is so high that a customer service agent needs to hold his/her nerve almost all the time.
Different sort of customers will call up your business. For an instance, a customer who is extremely angry (abusive too), or a customer who is highly dubious (even though you tried everything to make him/her comprehend), or a calm customer who has posted some derogatory comment about your business on social media sites.
Imagine how bad it will represent your company if a negative word-of-mouth is spread on any social media dais like Facebook or Twitter. Being a customer support expert, you need to have self-control. Remember your customers will break free and will cross all the limits, but you shouldn’t.
Company owners and call center management should guide their agents to be positive when pessimism is thrown, calm when a customer goes abusive, and extremely ethical when personal attacks are made. Because once you lose your cool and react to these situations, the damage done will be beyond repair.
7. Sound product knowledge
How would you describe your customer service skills?
It is the proficiency with which a business is able to offer solutions to the customers. And how does this competency is boosted? What is that one of the most fundamental requirement to offer resolutions to customers’ query and complaint? To have a strong grip on the sphere of product/service.
Be it a BPO agent or an internal employee, possessing an impeccable product knowledge is what makes you technically able to serve your distressed or confused customer. As a customer service expert, you would never want to experience a customer interaction where you are limited just because you don’t have enough information or expertise on the offered product/service.
Every business should thus ensure that its customer-facing workforce is well-versed with the ins-outs of the product. Typically, a BPO or an organization offers product training to the customer support executives in the beginning only. But if there is a product update or a new launch, customer agents should be coached without fail.
Did you know: Customers seeking technical assistance keep product knowledge as one of the top expectations from the service agents?
One of the most frustrating moments customers face when they are being thrown from one agent to another over an issue. Customer service agents are not only responsible for offering resolutions to the customers but also accountable for how the solution is offered.
When an agent takes a customer issue on hand, it shows the professionalism and the dependable attitude of the brand. To provide a cent percent CSAT (customer satisfaction) score, your agent should be able to provide the solutions by himself/herself.
However, in most of the cases, when agents delegate the call or issue, it is so because they aren’t authorized for some cases that are complex enough. Hence, it becomes the responsibility of the organization to provide such high-end training to the agents so that they are capable enough to solve customers’ queries on their own despite how complex is the issue.
For customers, it matters that their issue is solved in the first interaction. There is a specific metric also that measures the same; FCR (first call resolution). Higher the FCR, better is your customer service and happier are your customers.
Did you know: 29 of the Customers regard the capacity to handle queries without escalation or delegation as one of the most import support skills of an agent?
9. Maintaining cool
As said, the mundane life of a customer service agent is not easy. There are odd moments, heated conversations, abusive spats, and what not. Patience is the key to success, always remember this.
The mantra for success is keeping your calm. Customers will shout, they will do personal attacks, they will not listen to you. Amidst all these loud and aggressive gestures you need to be as cool as cucumber. Life is a challenge and not just for you. You are not the only one. Keep in mind that the profession of yours is to handle the angry customers and calm them down with your ethical and professional approach.
No customer points at you personally. They are just angry because of the deviation in their expectations. Businesses should offer proper psychological training for the agents so as to make the latter understand that good customer service skill means to keep your cool at all the time.
10. Good listener
All the above-mentioned tips are useless if the customer support agent is not an effective listener. Customers do notice how support agents are listening to their grievances and complaints. One thing you need to understand is that customers expect every support agent to at least hear them properly. As a customer service professional, if you don’t have a striking listening ability, having any other quality doesn’t matter.
It’s your customers and it’s your product/service that they bought and are now facing trouble with, so it becomes your responsibility to assist them in every possible way. That is how you make the customers believe that you will never let them down. All this starts by hearing them with full attention reflecting on how serious you are about their issue. Best support agents often rephrase the problem in their own words and then requests the customer to confirm if that is precise enough. This put a strong impression on the customers.
Engagement is what drives any business to success. As per a report, HR experts are one of the highest committed employees in an organization with 81.2% engagement rate. And you know where the customer service agents lie in this list? Right at the second last position with an engagement rate of just 65.4%. This is surprising and harrowing. Customer support agents should be the most engaged employees in an organization. The report also stated that newly hired customer service experts show more engagement than the professionals who already have spent time with the organization. This is a worrisome figure.
Imagine if some other entity has noticed it and published a report on this, won’t your customers would? Of course they will, and they are noticing it. This is the reasons customers are reporting discontentment with 80% of their support interactions. You require to train your customer service agents to pay full attention to the patrons’ pain points. The engagement level of your agents should be high enough to make your customers come back to you.
This is the digital world. Everything is working at the speed of gigabytes and amidst all this speed, customers seek quick resolutions.
When asked to the customers, 83% of them told that they would leave an online purchase in the middle or even worst, a brand if they aren’t assisted under 5 minutes slab. That’s the TAT (turnaround time) customer support agent should follow.
Customers are extremely fragile today. If you test them on their patience level for even a minute more, they would leave your business for something much better. There is no chance for redemption.
A lot of successful call centers and organizations have hence prioritized the quick response time to measure the effectiveness of support service.
Customer service doesn’t hold a good reputation in the market today. People are not satiated with the level of support assistance they are getting and things are not getting any better. Customers throw up their frustration on the service representatives again and again.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to back up your employees. They will be facing a lot of heat and fire from the customers as they will be on the frontline. So, make sure that you are there for them. Obviously, you will train your agents, but all the customer service skills mentioned above won’t be honed overnight.
It is a process that takes place throughout a span of a few weeks, months, or even years, depending on how big your team is or how vast your goals are. Every single service skill once developed will complement the other competencies, thus making your brand truly customer-centric.
A smart approach would be to first converge your attention on the customer service skills that need enhancement most and then proceed with the rest. The customer service skills list scribbled here may or may not be fit your team or company. The gist is, however, to offer a holistic picture of how the skills and abilities of customer service can be nourished and why they matter. Thanks!