“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” – Edgar Mitchell.
No matter how great your products and services are, if your customer service machinery is weak, you can never reach your business’s true potential. Simply put, customer service is the constant assistance and support provided that a company offers to its existing and future customers/clients. It deals with answering queries, offering technical support and often involves training customers to improve their experience with your business.
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Typically, customer service is perceived as a tool that allows customers to connect with a company and get assistance via phone calls, emails, or messaging through a call center setup. However, the scope and scale of customer assistance are much larger today, engulfing newer mediums and best practices to provide customers with a cohesive experience and create lasting impressions.
Almost all organizations believe that they are providing good customer service until they start losing customers alarmingly. However, by the time they realize it, it is already too late. To ensure that you do not have to face such a situation and improve your customer service further, we have compiled a list of essential skills for improving your call center services below.
1. Be Positive
One of the first skills that any client-facing individual needs to master is staying positive. As customer service agents, you will have to deal with a lot of disgruntled and angry customers. Therefore, having an optimistic attitude and a positive outlook will help you assist clients better and help transfer that positive energy to them. Remaining polite, professional, and calm at all times can indeed be a challenge, but your optimism will make both your and your customers’ day much brighter.
2. Learning Constantly
Many customer service agents believe that their training manual and scripts to be the holy grail of learning. However, there is much more that you can learn each day from your customers if you pay close attention.
Every day, with each policy alteration made by your company, new issues arise that need to be tackled. Your willingness to learn something new every day not only helps you grow as a professional, but it would also help you resolve similar issues much faster in the future.
3. Listening Closely
This one’s probably there in your training manual already! Almost all call center service providers stress listening carefully to what customers are saying and how they are saying it. There are several benefits of listening closely to your customers. Any agent who has been on the job for a while may seem like they know it all. However, for a customer, each problem they are facing is the first of its kind. Therefore, it is essential not to assume their situation and listen patiently to what callers say before offering them a solution.
If customers feel that they are not heard attentively, it only adds to their frustration, often causing them to move to your competitors. Therefore, it is a great practice to listen to clients without interrupting them and paraphrase everything they have said before offering a solution. This will make your customers feel understood and also prevent possible errors.
Perhaps the best way to interact with customers and serve them better is to empathize with them. Empathy means putting yourself in the customers‘ shoes and view the problem from their perspective. Most customers are satisfied simply by knowing that their customers are hearing them out and making an effort to understand their issues. Having empathy will help you serve your customers a lot better and make customers feel more comfortable and appreciated, leading to higher satisfaction rates. The figure below shows some commonly used empathy statements.
5. Communicating Effectively
Most customer service agents listen to customers only to react to queries (they usually have fixed, memorized responses). However, the real goal behind listening to customers is understanding their problems. Good communication only happens when both parties listen to each other carefully. However, in customer service, the onus is on the executive to understand customers’ issues and professionally provide appropriate replies.
6. Staying Patient
Patience is one of the most crucial skills needed to become a great customer service agent. Companies offering customer service solutions often do not stress how important this quality is to manage disappointed, upset, or angry customers. Contact centers primarily receive calls when customers are confused or frustrated, so it is essential to be patient.
Often customers also do not understand the issue they are faced with or can go round and round about their problem without explicitly stating it. In such cases, agents need to take their time to understand the issue better and ask probing questions. The agent must then aim to provide a satisfactory resolution and explain the same to customers.
7. Knowing your product/service
To help others with information about your product or service, you must have in-depth knowledge about it first. Hence, you must study the goods/services your company offers and go through all the available resources. Therefore, your customer service agents ought to have product-specific knowledge that helps them answer product or feature-related queries in detail.
When you answer clients’ queries with confidence, it shows that you know what you are talking about. You may have all the information needed to help a customer. Still, without sounding confident, you will neither sound believable nor instill the confidence that they are getting a proper resolution. Confident agents also create a positive impression for your brand. Thus, you must motivate and instill confidence in your agents to elevate your customer service and brand image.
Customers usually don’t like to take the trouble of waiting in long call queues and connecting with their service providers until they need to. After all, who has the time? They usually call contact centers because they have a genuine concern or problem that needs to be fixed urgently. Thus, you must understand their situation and provide a satisfactory solution.
A customer raise might not always seem like a big problem to you, but it could mean the world to the customer. Solving client problems thoughtfully will earn you brownie points and lead to consumer delight.
10. Remaining Calm
Energy is infectious and could be transferred from one person to another. In the realm of customer service, calmness is a superpower. Your ability to remain calm and composed under high-pressure situations will help you offer more intelligent resolutions and disarm your customers.
Many customers often resort to screaming or venting in the hope of getting their problems/queries resolved quickly. But, unfortunately, they can also provoke you and make you say things that you would regret later. Remaining calm in such situations requires perseverance and practice. Moreover, having a calmer mind can make you do your job more efficiently without affecting your mental peace at the end of the day.
Resilience is a skill that helps individuals excel in every sphere of life. At times, handling multiple customers throughout the day could drain your energy and make you a bit demotivated. However, it is still crucial to remain positive in such situations and push forward with your chin up. Remember that you represent a brand and stay professional in every interaction to delight clients.
Customer service may seem like an easy job, but in reality, agents in a call center setup need to work on several tasks simultaneously. Once they pick up a call, agents have to verify customers, open their records, understand their issues, create notes, study their profile and offer a solution. On the front end, you would be interacting with clients to understand their concerns, while on the back end, you would need to pull out their records, make decisions for them and offer them quick resolutions in the nick of time. There are several challenges of multitasking in customer service, which must be handled with patience for improved caller experience.
13. Time Management
Time is essential both to your customers and to your call center service provider. Customers want the fastest and safest solution available to them, while contact centers expect agents to wrap up calls as quickly as possible. To handle customer needs better and improve your statistics, pay attention to the time you spend on each call.
Practice wrapping up the majority of your calls before the time limit so that you have time for a few long calls. Additionally, prioritize queries based on their urgency to save time.
14. Ability to let go
Customer-facing individuals go through a lot every day that affects their inner peace. Hence it becomes crucial that they detach themselves from their work once done for the day and set up personal boundaries.
Even if a customer says something awful, you must never take it personally. Remember that those nasty remarks aren’t directed to you but the client’s bitter experience with the product or service offered. Letting go of the baggage of previous calls would make life much better for you as well as the future customers you serve. Because who knows, you might get a five-star rating from the next customer that comes along.
Apart from the above skills, many other customer service strategies would help elevate your brand name and create more satisfied clients. Though these skills are difficult to master initially, they pay rich dividends for the future and improve your brand reputation significantly.