There are certain customer handling skills that call center representatives should master if they are to act with discernment and expertise. Without these qualities, businesses run the risk of finding themselves in an embarrassing train-wreck when it comes to offering good quality service. They lose customers, as people are let down. Fortunately, there are skills that all customer support members can master to improve their customer interaction abilities.
When most publications talk about customer service skills, qualities like “being a people person” gets the limelight. This is such a generic and vague term that it cannot be used in any concrete way for people looking to get better at their support positions. It certainly does not help founders/entrepreneurs who are in the lookout for the right set of skills when they are hiring a person for the important job. What follows is a list comprising of a few essential skills that any support employee can learn to impress their customer:
- Patience – This is the most essential skill that customers look for in a service representative. Customers often tend to call the support centers when they are frustrated and confused. Patience rewards not only the customer but also the business. A great service is always better than a fast one. Bear in mind, though, that patience should never be used as an excuse for a lazy service. The time spent talking to them should be used to understand their problems better so that they can get what they need.
- Attentiveness – The ability to listen is crucial for providing a great service. A study of customer feedback is a great way to understand this quality. It is a must for businesses which are looking to innovate. There are many cases when customers do not tell you their problems outright. For example, instead of directly telling you that they don’t find the user interface of your software easy, they might say that they are never able to locate the search feature. It is important to understand what your customers are telling you without mentioning it directly.
- Communication skills – Service representatives need to make sure that they get to the problem quickly. Customers are not interested in how their day is going or hear their life story. They also need to pay attention to how their communication habits translate to customers who are talking to them for the first time. Whenever an important piece of information needs to be communicated to the customer, it needs to be done clearly and should be kept simple. There shouldn’t be an iota of doubt concerning what is being said.
- Product knowledge – The best customer-facing employees tend to have a thorough knowledge of how the company’s product works. They need not know how to build the product from scratch, but they are expected to know all the ins and outs of the working of the product, just like customers who use it daily. Without a clear knowledge of the product, employees will not be able to help the customers who run into problems.
- Positive language – The ability of call center representatives to make changes in their conversational patterns goes a long way in leaving your customers happy. As everyone knows, language use is an important part of persuasion and customers tend to form perceptions about the company based on the language they use. For example, let’s say a customer is interested in a particular product and calls the support line, but that product is back-ordered till the next month. If the representative says that he/she can’t get them the product right now as it is back-ordered and unavailable, there is nothing wrong, but it is blunt and impersonal. However, if he/she says that the product will be available next month and that they can place the order now, and make sure that it is shipped to them as soon as it reaches the warehouse, the customer will not only feel invited, there’s a high possibility of them going ahead and placing the order. Focusing on the positive aspects has a huge impact.
- Goal-oriented focus – Many customer service experts have remarked that giving unfettered power to the employees to woo the customers doesn’t always yield positive returns. It tends to happen as the employees act without a goal. Customer happiness and business goals can work together without compromising on the service quality. Businesses should focus on coming up with guidelines for their employees that will give them freedom to deal with the customers, but also equip them with go-to fixes and priority solutions for all the common problems.
Most importantly, service agents should show a willingness to learn. There are always going to be surprises and unless they have the right attitude, it will stunt their growth and the quality of customer service in the long run.