Top 10 In-Demand Skills Every Customer Service Representative Should HaveJuly 12, 2018
In an era when the customers have become choosier and smarter and competition is really intense, your business cannot sustain without offering quality support and service to the customers. With time, the means to offer customer service have undergone huge changes. Incorporation of IT and various types of digital technologies have literally transformed customer service sector in the last decade. Nowadays, most companies including those in industries like retail, healthcare, finance, hospitality, FMCG use specialized customer support software solutions. While using cutting edge software solutions is necessary to offer exceptional customer service, the skill of support agents also play vital roles in keeping the customers happy.
Skills that customer service agents should possess
No matter how feature rich and advanced the help desk software is, ultimately what matters is how and when it is being used by the agents! The support agents need to possess certain skills specific to this sector to make the best use of the software and cater to various needs of the customers.
Listed below are the essential qualities customer support representatives should possess:
#1. Persuasive communication skills
Customer support agents need to possess persuasive communication skills. This can be handy in making customers understand logic when any conflict crops up. Occasionally, it can be used to cross sell products when the customers enquire about products. This is about maintaining a delicate balance and wooing the customer with logic and words. It can help in making customers interested in products and calming down irate customers.
#2. Empathy is required
It is very important for the customer service agents to use empathy in verbal/ written communications. Not all customers have the same mindset, as it is. The situation of each customer is also different. For the agents, it is essential to visualize himself in the position of the customers before offering him/her ideas or services. A certain amount of warmth in the verbal or written communication helps in this regard. The customers should understand the agents are not speaking only pre composed business lingo but they are trying to understand their pain points. This helps in avoiding escalation of situation and satisfying the customers becomes easier.
#3. Capacity to adapt to situations
Efficient customer support agents should possess the capacity to adapt to situations. This is necessary when they want to develop ability to use a help desk in flexible way. The agents may face situations when customers may prefer switching from chat to phone or email during interaction. They may also face situations when the customer load is unusually and unexpectedly high. The agents have to learn how to tackle such situations without losing cool. Of course, usage of suitable service desk software can help them manage such tricky situations better.
#4. Importance of using positive language
The customer service representatives should always resort to using positive languages. This has a direct impact on mindset of the customers- regardless of age and gender. The agents have to remember the same thing can be conveyed in various manners and how it is conveyed matters a lot. For instance, customer is asking for a product that is not available, the agents should not reply in a direct and negative manner. A better response would be suggesting the caller alternatives that may suit his/her needs better. Similarly, when a customer wants a refund or asks for something that is not possible as per company norms, the agents can suggest something on similar lines. This tends to work better than directly saying no to the customers. Using phrases like ‘You can’t ‘‘, “Not possible”, “We don’t”- leave a negative impact on the customers. Such words convey rudeness and non-co operation to the customer.
#5. Clear interaction, without scope of loopholes
The customer support agents need to be clear in their response and interaction at all times- whether it is over chat or phone. It is important to listen to what the customers is saying with care. Customers may have myriads of queries or face numerous problems on same product and service. Not reading the chat carefully or skipping words said by the customers can lead to misunderstanding and may make customers irate. The response should also be clear from the side of support agents and there should be no ambiguity. If it is about guiding any customer in troubleshooting, adopting a chronological step by step approach will help.
#6. Honesty does matter
To ensure the customers are served in the best way, the support agents need to respond honestly. It is never advisable to promise something to the customers which are uncertain. It can be anything including promotional offer, future availability of a product, return policy etc. If the agent is not sure how the issue can be tackled, the case can be escalated to the manager or upper hierarchy. That works better than making false promises to the customers which cannot be fulfilled. A dishonest reply does not do any good to the customer and neither does it contribute to positive brand image development.
#7. Self control is important
The customer service representatives need to have self control. They have to handle different types of customers every day. Some customers may be very irate and frustrated owing to the type of problems they are facing. They may yell or use rude words. However, the support agents should not lose their cool in such situations. They should remain calm and use professional approach. This helps evade escalation of the situation. They should use positivity to counter negativity from the annoyed customers.
#8. Patience is a prerequisite
In customer service, patience plays a key role. There will be a section of customers who take more time to understand certain things and troubleshooting with them can seem like a pain in the neck! However, the support agents need to be patient with all types of customers. Sometimes, resolving issues may take more time than usual owing to factors beyond human control or technical glitches. Getting carried away by anger or frustration does not solve anything.
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#9. Multi tasking and time management
The customer service agents have to be expert in time management and multi-tasking. In peak hours, they have to deal with more calls or chat session than usual. Sometimes, they may have to deal with additional calls or chat when a colleague is absent for some reason. Besides, the customers are usually not very patient in nature and they expect fast resolution of their problems. So, managing things in time is essential for the agents.
#10. Adept at picking up technology skills
No matter if a company sells hearing aids products or belongs to health insurance sector, the customer support representatives should be technology friendly. Nowadays, incorporating IT services in customer service sector is near mandatory. So, the support agents should have innate quality to pick up and learn new technologies- whether it involves new hardware device or software application.
Where it all leads to?
As a matter of fact, all these skills cannot be present in all customer support agents by default! They will need to learn and sharpen some of these skills to shine in this sector. Continuous learning and adapting to trends can help them meet the objectives better.