With great customer service, a business can create a niche for themselves and establish a customer-centric business among competitors. With over 6 out of 10 customers looking for support from customer representatives, having exceptional Customer Service as your Unique Selling Point (USP) can put you at the forefront.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what customer service is and what are some of the skills that business leaders must look for when hiring new service reps or ones that people can develop for a career in Customer Service.
What is it like being in Customer Service?
Customer Service Representatives are problem solvers with a unique skill set. They use their soft skills, technical skills, innate knowledge of the company, and the product knowledge to help customers achieve their goals, across a variety of channels like emails, chats, social media, etc.
While all employees must put the customer first, Customer Service teams are the frontline team members who support your buyer. Customer service professionals are the face of the company, practically representing the company to the customer.
45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly – Forrester
The Myths of Customer Service
Customer service is commonly misconstrued to be a boring job that is monotonous and unrewarding. It is often assumed that Customer reps have to sit and take calls or respond to emails all day with little or no breaks and a lot of fatigue. Another common myth about Customer Service Customer Reps is that it is a high-pressure job especially when volumes are high and stress is off the roof which in turn makes agents dissatisfied with work.
Customers being angry or rigid is also considered a common problem. It is often asked if a rep has to parry their customers’ personal problems while also handling their product issues. Different kinds of people might approach support agents on a regular basis and handling them is understood to be a huge pain point for customer support representatives.
Cracking the Myths of Customer Service
Myth #1: Customer Service is boring
Customer-facing jobs are normally the most fun jobs in a company. If you’re a peoples person, it is anything but boring. You interact with customers, continually problem-solving, sometimes meeting people face-to-face, speaking with a variety of people on a daily basis to provide the best customer service, and also gathering insights on how customers evaluate your product.
Myth #2: There is no satisfaction in support
Helping your customers solve their problems and building a loyal customer base can be very rewarding. There is no better satisfaction than fulfilling a customer want and no better person to do it than an informed customer service representative. As a Rep, establishing a rapport with someone to convince them you understand their concerns and act positively to address these concerns is the crux of the job.
Myth #3: Visibility is minimum
Even a single good deed goes a long way in making your customer stay loyal to your product. Every good call or a ‘Thank you’ email shows how much that customer has valued your support. The same is a huge parameter of appraisal for middle managers to evaluate support staff.
Myth #4: The growth curve is hardly linear
As a support agent, you are viewed as the face of a company, a critical component of sales and word-of-mouth marketing. To do so, you are expected to develop good customer service skills, know your product and policies well to provide the best customer support along with honing your communication skills. With the new and fast-growing emphasis on customer experience, businesses are always aiming to empower their agents so that they can help solve more complex questions and requests.
The Four Ps of Customer Service
To provide your customers with the absolute best customer experience, you need to hire the best service agents. With the customer feedback that has been gathered and studied over the years, it has been rightly concluded that it all starts with the people you hire. Let’s look at the four Ps of Customer Service –
- Product-oriented skills
- Personality-oriented skills
- People-oriented skills
- Presentation-oriented skills
Know Your Product: As a top agent, you are expected to know the detailed intricacies of your product and all its features so that you do not look perplexed when a customer mentions a feature you have never heard of. Further, it really throws a bad light on your company’s brand name when a representative is not sure of their own product feature.
Know where to look for information: As a Customer Rep, you need to know where to look for the right information. Time Management skill is also an essential virtue in developing good customer relationships. Be it an important user guide or an older webinar. It is essential to know where things are and to point the customer in the right direction. It is never a good practice putting a customer on hold for too long while you go looking. This also emphasizes the need for a robust knowledge base for your product.
Know who to go to in times of need: Not every ticket that comes in can be resolved by a support agent. As a top service agent, you must be able to think quickly and strategically with who you could connect to get the right and the best answer providing a swift resolution for the customer queries. A quality customer interaction not just allows old customers to become loyal customers but also new customers.
Be Polite: A great support agent is polite to a customer and has strong listening skills. It can mean putting the customers’ needs before your own. Customers remember people by the way they have been spoken to and relationships thrive on how kind and genuine a support agent is.
Show confidence: If you are not sure, your customers are never going to be. Even if you do not have a permanent solution at hand, have a positive attitude, and feel confident in providing a temporary respite. Be careful of proposing a timeline for a permanent one but with the right conviction, a customer can be made your ally.
Apologize when the situation demands: Often in a role like this, mistakes are bound to happen. After all, no one is perfect. Not making mistakes is sometimes hard, but saying sorry doesn’t have to be! If you know the mistake lies on your side during a conflict resolution, admit it and apologize and rectify the mistake at the earliest. According to Carey School of Business, “If the business said sorry on top of giving credit, satisfaction increased from 37% to 74%.
Attentiveness and Active Listening: Listen to your customers’ problems fully, analyze the situation well before offering a solution. Anything done in haste is never going to be a good resolution. Being observant and paying attention to who you are selling makes your customer feel more comfortable because then it is evident to them that you actually care about what they have to say.
Understand customer sensitivities: The impact of emotion on the customer experience is far more prominent than it would at first appear. When you speak to a customer, you need to know his potential sensitivities and emotional status before adjusting your tone of voice in responding to him. Anything that can offend his personal or emotional sensitivity could be a huge hazard to your reputation.
Never lose your patience: Being patient and a positive language are important customer service skills, especially when customers can be extremely angry or frustrated about an issue. A good skill is to not be influenced in your support by the customer’s emotions. If anything, you can provide a professional listening ear to the issue before proceeding to offer a solution.
Summarize your analysis: Even if your ultimate goal is to swiftly resolve issues, do not forget to summarize your analysis and solution, and also ask your customer is all is well. This provides clarity bringing all parties in sync, thus eliminating the margin of error, providing the customer with an excellent customer service experience.
Clarify timelines: SLAs are a set of service-related goals that a company creates for processes that have a quantifiable outcome. Abide by them! Good customer service means being transparent about the timelines of resolution. This not only is a good practice to keep yourself accountable but also brings a sense of closure to your customer needs.
Balance professional and personalization: Right from the body language to the attitude to the communication, it is important for a rep to be professional. You are representing a brand and nothing you must do to tarnish it. It is essential to find that fine balance between keeping a professional front while also not seeming robotic. Customers like to know they are speaking to someone who knows what they are talking about, with a tinge of empathy.
Probe well: Always ask the question ‘Why”. As a support agent, probing will help you nail down specifics so you’re able to get your customer the help they need. Without clarifying questions and truly understanding the issue, customer satisfaction is compromised resulting in unhappy customers.
Put it succinctly: Customers like to hear things in a crisp and succinct manner. With clear communication, whether it is an update about an issue or a feedback call, be very concise in speech, and convey the message perfectly. This helps contribute to a positive brand reputation.
Hone written communication: When writing to resolve a customer’s issue, the Customer service agent must learn to put things in a simple manner and avoid technical jargon so that your customers understand their issue is being addressed by the support team rather than being confused about what is being said.
The bottom line is that developing and selling a good product or service is only half the battle; client retention and providing good customer service is just as important. This list of essential customer service skills may not be perfect for every company call center or exhaustive for every customer service team. What is important is that business leaders choose the right team members and also plan how to provide them with the right resources to help them hone important skills enabling them to exceed their role. If you’re looking at ways to enable your team, check out the HappyFox suite of customizable products for Customer Service.