There are certain universal customer service skills that every successful customer support agent must master to win over their customers for life. Without them, you run the risk of mediocrity and customers who stay with you until they find a better option
Customer Service Skills that Matter
This article is Part Two of the 15 Skills of Successful Customer Support Agents. You can read Part One here.
In Part One, we reviewed the first seven of the fifteen skills. Here we discuss the last eight.
8. Ability to “Read” Customers
You won’t always be able to see customers face-to-face and in many instances (with live chat, for example) you won’t even hear a customer’s voice. But that doesn’t exempt you from understanding some basic principles of behavioral psychology and being able to “read” your customer’s current emotional state.
This is an important part of the personalization process. You need to really your customers in order to create a personal experience for them. You don’t want to misread a customer and end up losing them due to confusion, frustration or miscommunication. Look and listen for subtle clues about their current mood, patience level, personality, etc., and you’ll go far in keeping your customer interactions positive.
9. A Calming Presence
There are a lot of metaphors for this type of personality: “keeps their cool,” “stay cool under pressure,” etc. Some people have the ability to stay calm and even influence others in positive ways when things get a little hectic.
I’ve had my fair share of hairy, hostile situations. The only reason I stick with some companies because their customer support teams know how to keep me from pulling my hair out.
The best service agents understand that they cannot let a heated customer convince them to lose their cool. They know that their job is to be a support for customers who think the world is crumbling all around them.
10. Goal Oriented Focus
This may seem like a strange thing to list as a customer service skill, but I assure you that it is vitally important. Customer satisfaction with minimal financial repercussions should be monitored and pursued.
Many customer service experts have shown how giving employees an unfettered power to “WOW” their customers doesn’t always generate the returns (in the form of continued loyalty and referrals) that many businesses expect to see as a result.
That’s because such power could leave employees without goals. Relying on basic, but strict guidelines can help business owners come up with goals for their employees that allow plenty of freedom to resolve concerns on a case-to-case basis. These guidelines should also provide priority solutions and “go-to” fixes for common problems.
11. Ability to Handle Surprises
Playing professionally in the customer support world means being able to hit the curveballs. Maybe the problem you encounter isn’t specifically addressed in the company’s guidelines. Maybe customers aren’t reacting how they normally do.
Whatever the case, it’s best to be able to think on your feet. But it’s even better to create guidelines for yourself in these sorts of situations. For example, who is your go-to person for odd situations? The CEO should be able to help you, but you can’t go to her or him every time. Define a logical chain to use. That way, you won’t be left wondering who you should forward the problem too.
You can even decide ahead of time how to answer difficult circumstances. When it comes time to getting someone else involved, how are you going to contact them? Some companies resolve small issues with instant messaging. Emails are used for more detailed, more difficult situations. Organized organizations use sleek customer support software to keep control of the problem until it is resolved satisfactorily.
12. Persuasion Skills
This is one a lot of people didn’t see coming! Experienced customer support personnel know that oftentimes, you will get messages in your inbox that are more about the curiosity of your company’s product, rather than having problems with it.
To truly take your customer service skills to the next level, you need to be able to convince interested customers that your product is right for them (if it truly is).
It’s not about making a sales pitch every time you communicate with them. Just don’t let potential customers slip away because you couldn’t show them that your product is worth purchasing!
Call it what you want, but providing a great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done (and not take shortcuts) are key skills of successful customer support agents.
Many memorable customer service stories out there were created by a single employee. The person simply refused to do the “status quo” when it came to helping someone out.
Remember that your customers are people too. Putting in the extra effort will come back to you ten-fold. It should be your driving motivation to never “cheat” your customers with lazy service.
14. Closing Ability
Being able to close with a customer means being able to end the conversation with confirmed satisfaction. The customer should feel that everything has been taken care of (or will be).
Getting booted or transferred before their problems have been addressed is the last thing that customers want. Be sure to take the time to confirm with customers that each and every issue they had on deck has been entirely resolved.
Your willingness to do this shows the customer 3 very important things:
- That you care about getting it right
- That you’re willing to keep going until you get it right
- That the customer is the one who determines what “right” is.
When a customer says, “Yes, I’m all set!” that’s when you know the successful conversation is over.
15. Willingness to Learn
If you read all the way to the bottom of this article, you likely already have this skill.
It is probably the most general skill on the list, but not everyone has it. Interview questions might include, “What was the last book you read?” or “Who is your favorite author?” or “What was your favorite subject in school?” Hire people who seek to improve what they do, whether it’s building product knowledge or changing the way they help customers.
Well, there they are, 15 skills of successful customer support agents. It might be a good idea to rate yourself from 1-10 on each of these areas, then focus on improving yourself in those where you scored a 6 or less. Before long, you’ll be the most successful customer support agent of them all!
Please click the following link to read the first half of this article. Part One: 15 Skills of Successful Customer Support Agents
Special thanks to HelpScout.com and Gregory Ciotti for his article on this topic.