Customer service is crucial to any business. For this reason, delivering the highest quality of service to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty is crucial. Excellent customer service is key to business growth and profitability. According to the 2017 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies that deliver excellent customer service.
However, delivering great customer service is easier said than done. Customer service has evolved over the years. Ten or twenty years ago, you would have been routed to a dedicated customer service department that will handle your concerns. Nowadays, customers come from different fronts, not just from phone calls or email. They now come from different channels like social media, websites, and other channels. It is important that your customer service team possess the ability to effectively interact with customers and keep them happy.
To be effective in customer service, you need to possess some skills. Your customer service team will be the face of your company and the main point of contact with your customers. You should choose the right people who possess the right skills who will deliver exceptional customer service. In this article, we will look at the different customer service skills:
1. Customer Service Skills
- Communication Skills
- Problem-solving Skills
- Listening Skills
- Persuasion Skills
- Taking Responsibility
- Using Positive Language
- Product/Service Knowledge
2. Improving Customer Service Skills
- Employee Training
- Empower Employees
- Use of New Technologies
- Performance Evaluations
1. Communication Skills
It can be surprising to know that many customers have difficulty communicating their concerns with customer service representatives. According to 33% of clients, effectively answering questions is the most important skill every customer service agent should possess. Without good communication, it will be hard for your team to solve a customer’s problem. Mumbling, losing focus, or using unclear language can result in customer dissatisfaction.
When communicating with customers, you should avoid using jargon. Remember, not all customers understand technical terms. As much as possible, speak in a language that your customers will understand. Make sure to communicate the details in a clear, cohesive, and concise manner.
Miscommunications are not only costly but also detrimental to your business. Ensuring crisp, helpful, and error-free responses can strengthen trust in your customer communication. The ability to communicate clearly isn’t easy as it may seem. You need to provide your team with the necessary communication skills training for them to effectively resolve customer service issues.
2. Problem-Solving Skills
Part of your job responsibility is to solve the problem of your customers. In the pursuit of ensuring customer satisfaction, you will need to find the best possible solution to their problems. Problem-solving may involve some reasoning and analytical skills so you can quickly identify the root cause of the problem.
In problem-solving, you first need to acknowledge that there is a problem at hand. Upon identification of the issue, you will then look for possible solutions that will satisfy your customer’s needs. Instead of choosing the most complicated solution, you should identify the simplest and easiest solution.
Once you have recommended a solution, ensure that it is really working. You may have to test the solution on your end first before recommending it to the customer. It would be best if you would carefully document the tested solution to help other team members working on similar issues.
3. Listening Skills
Listening is another important customer service skill. This skill goes beyond turning up the volume on your headset. It involves truly understanding the issue at hand and letting customers know that you are paying attention to them. Repeating exactly what the customer said in their own words and confirming with them is enough to make them feel that you understand them.
Listening to them on the phone can be difficult because there is no body language or tone of voice to help you. Effective listening requires hearing what the customer is saying, what they are not saying, and what frustrates them. For example, they may ask where something is on the website. As an active listener, you can point your customers in the right direction.
While listening to customers, there may be wider issues that may arise such as website navigation or your store signage. Great listening skill means identifying and resolving underlying issues as well. Research has revealed that active listening can make both the agent and customer feel better.
4. Persuasion Skills
Persuasion has long been recognized as an important skill for salespeople but it can also prove useful for customer service success. Your customer service team spends every day turning problems into solutions and converting doubters into loyalists. Good persuasion skills can help them get the job done.
Persuasion skills can help draw customer’s attention to how useful your company and its current offerings are to them. It should not be mistaken as begging, cajoling, or misleading customers but should be seen as an attempt to find the most suitable way to emotionally connect with customers.
Being persuasive also contributes to creating a positive service experience. According to the Future of Customer Experience survey of PwC, 59% of customers will walk away after several bad experiences and 17% after just one bad experience. So, make sure that your reps have the persuasion skills needed to convert.
Your team will be dealing with different kinds of customers with different personalities and temperaments. At times, they will be dealing with irate customers and at times with frustrated customers. For them, it can be an overwhelming experience so being patient can help them effectively address customer concerns.
Customers call because they might be trying out your product for the first time and need help or have run into an issue. Being patient will allow your reps to listen carefully to what customers are saying and pick out the most important issues to address. Patience will help your team stay calm and stay on top of the situation. This way, they will be able to provide the right solution and deliver the best customer service in the long run.
When your team’s patience is being tested, train them to handle the most difficult customer patiently so that they can deescalate the situation and handle issues in a professional manner. Patience will also allow them to completely resolve the issue and not go off tangent or address only part of the problem.
Empathy is putting oneself in the shoes of your customer. It is relating yourself to how the customer feels in the thick of the problem. Customers come to you because they have an issue that needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. Empathy entails listening to your customer’s pain points, their frustrations, and getting down to the bottom of the issue.
Customers contact your organization because they are angry, frustrated, or helpless. Being able to recognize these emotions, either through phone or email, is an important skill. Feeling and hearing the customer is important in delivering great service. This ensures that your customers will feel valued and understood.
Empathy is acknowledging that there is a problem and offering the right solution. Being empathetic can help ease their frustrations and maintain your brand reputation. Empathy means not being defensive and apologizing for their situation. Your reps should learn how to say empathetic statements like “I am sorry for the inconvenience,” “I understand your situation,” “Sorry to hear that.”
7. Taking Responsibility
Just because you were able to resolve the customer’s issue does not mean they will continue doing business with you. Good customer service does not stop when the customer has made a purchase. Customer care continues throughout their lifespan. It is the responsibility of your team to ensure customer satisfaction.
According to Salesforce, 29% of customers say that the ability to handle requests without transfers or escalations is one of the most important customer service skills. Also, 70% of customers who churned would have stayed if their issue had been resolved in just one interaction.
8. Using Positive Language
Customers will contact you because they have a problem or issue that needs to be resolved. They may express anger, frustration, or defeatism but your reps need to stay positive and upbeat. Steer the conversation towards a positive outcome using positive language.
Positive language takes the stress away from the situation. Positive words can help build trust between your customers and reps. Instead of saying, “Don’t hit the red button” say “the green button is the best option.” No matter how angry or irate the customer is, make sure that your customer service team stays calm and positive.
Let’s face it. No one wants to deal with a negative person. To ensure positive interaction, start your conversation by asking them how their day is going. Before ending the call, ensure that your agents ask the customer if there is still something they can assist with.
As the needs of customers change, your reps need to adapt to these changes. According to New Voice Media, 60% of customers move and change their contact channel depending on where they are and what they are doing. Your customers will come via phone, social media, or even face-to-face.
Investing in a good CRM can help your customer service team handle adaptability challenges. It integrates ticket sources and makes customer information readily available regardless of the channel you are using. Your reps need to be flexible with the situations customers prefer.
10. Product/Service Knowledge
The best brand ambassadors are your employees themselves. Nothing can be more frustrating to a customer than being on the phone with someone who does not understand their problem. In the first place, it is your reps who should be knowledgeable about your product so they can better serve customers.
It is the responsibility of your customer service reps to become familiar with the products of your company. By knowing your product, your rep will best be able to provide the best value to your customer. Product knowledge will help your customer service team hunt for the right solution. The chances of selling to an existing customer is 50 – 55% higher than to a new customer but only if your reps know the strength of your product.
Product knowledge entails recognizing product features and turning them into benefits. If possible, they should be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of every product that your company offers. This will give them more confidence in helping out customers.
Improving Customer Service Skills
Delivering excellent customer service is actually not that hard. It’s just a matter of focusing on the needs of the customer before and after purchase. According to research, 90% of customers use customer service to make purchase decisions. With customer service, you not only have the opportunity to solve customer’s needs but also connect with them and show them that you care.
Delivering excellent service will resonate with your customers for a long time. For this reason, you need to work on improving the customer service skills of your team. Here are some tips on how you can boost your team’s customer service skills.
Your customers need to be updated with the latest customer service techniques to help your team create meaningful customer interactions. Employee training provides your team with the necessary skills, competencies, and tools to help customers get maximum satisfaction throughout their journey.
Customer-facing members of your team should be well-equipped to handle interactions with them. The goal of your customer service team should be to ensure customer satisfaction. Happy and satisfied customers provide opportunities for growth. What areas of training should you provide employees:
Demonstrating that Customers Are Important
One of the most important things you should train your customer service team is to give importance to customers. They need to realize that customers are the lifeblood of your business. They should understand that customer service has a direct impact on your business. To achieve this, you should build a customer-centric company.
At the onset, you should consider hiring individuals who are customer-service-focused. Look for a candidate who shows empathy, is friendly, and with good communication skills.
Establishing Fast and User-Friendly Customer Service Process
Also, you need to ensure fast and smooth communication between your team and the customers. You need to come up with a system that will cut down on your customer’s wait time. According to a recent survey, customers will only wait 5 minutes or less before abandoning their purchase or leaving the store. In addition, 75% of businesses reported losing customers.
To ensure a smooth customer service process, you need to develop various points of communication like email, chat, telephone, face-to-face, and others. These mechanisms will allow you to quickly address customer inquiries, complaints, or product concerns.
Your customer service team needs to be given the freedom to make quick decisions that will be beneficial to customers. Sometimes delivery of customer service can be delayed because your team still needs to seek approval from supervisors before they can address customer concerns. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction so you need to empower your employees and allow them to make on-the-spot decisions.
Use New Technologies
While customers still prefer face-to-face contact, it can be a challenge if you have hundreds or thousands of potential customers. Utilizing technology can help you deliver the best customer support. Today, there are many available technologies for enhancing customer experience. It can include live chat, automation tools, and other platforms.
With these technologies, you can look forward to getting seamless interactions with your customers. Using relevant technologies can help you achieve your customer service goals.
Even the best customer support teams have their limitations. It is your job to identify these weaknesses so you can make the necessary adjustments in order to improve your customer service. This is where performance evaluations can come in handy.
For starters, identify the reasons for customer complaints and see if there is a common ground. Conduct regular evaluations to make sure that your team will not start slacking on their job. Make sure to keep your performance evaluations current.
Outsourcing Customer Service with airisX
airisX provides outsourced services via our professional service centers and dedicated staff at our centers globally. You get the peace of mind that airisX has already vetted, tested, trained, and verified the capabilities of our experienced staff.