10 Customer Service Skills For the Savvy Call Center Agent
Call center agents are on the front lines of customer service, representing the voice of a brand and playing a large role in the customer experience. While companies may train agents to do their jobs well-with technology training, call scripts, and feedback from managers, for example-there are nuances to agent behavior which can mean the difference between a poor or merely adequate customer experience and a superior one which fosters customer loyalty. So what are 10 essential skills agents need to deliver optimum customer service?
Be knowledgeable. Agents need to understand exactly what products and/or services their company offers so that they can speak clearly about them to customers when needed. If there are special offers or discounts the company is offering, they should also be aware of them and communicate these to customers. Agents also need to be well-trained in their company's call center technology, such as CRM software, as well as social media and any other channel on which they may communicate with customers. Knowledgeable agents instill customers with confidence and trust in a brand.
Be proactive. If a customer is experiencing some kind of distress, a discount or some kind of voucher could be offered as a gesture of goodwill before the customer reaches the point of frustration. Likewise, when an agent expects a service issue to take awhile (with the possible need of speaking to other agents or a manager), let the customer know in advance and offer to schedule a callback. For deliveries, offering information proactively is an excellent way to keep the customer informed and satisfied.
Be empathetic. If a customer is dissatisfied, it's critical to empathize with him/her and offer an apology for the issue while remaining confident that the problem will be solved. Customers appreciate brands with a human touch, and showing them you understand and care are essential to keeping their faith.
Be confident. Empathy and confidence go together-when an agent shows compassion for a customer issue, he/she can also reassure the customer that the problem will be solved. Showing confidence in products and services is also important for marketing purposes when suggesting them to customers.
Be grateful. Always show gratitude for a customer's time and business with a simple "thank you."
Be strategic. In some situations, agents may need to consult other agents or managers for support, schedule callback times if a case is taking awhile, or switch the customer to another channel for more in-depth support. Agents should think on their feet when the situation calls for it.
Be patient. If a customer reaches out for support, they clearly need to be heard. Customer service interactions can be especially difficult when the customer is upset. Agents need to show patience by allowing customers to explain their situations fully and ask for more details as needed. Customers should never feel rushed to wrap up an interaction-they should be the ones to decide they are satisfied with the resolution, not the agent.
Be articulate. On any channel, agents need to make sure to communicate clearly. This can mean articulating clearly over the phone or video chat as well as making an effort to spell correctly and use proper grammar when writing (shorthand is not a good idea!). Articulation also means not leaving out any important information and asking customers if they have understood everything and need any clarification.
Be personable. It's important to have a friendly tone of voice, but it's also critical to address customers by name, and ask them questions such as how they are doing, if they need clarification, and if there's any other support the agent can offer.
Be efficient. Time is of the essence to agents and customers alike. Agents should make an effort to be thorough and provide a quality customer service experience, but taking such steps as consulting a CRM database for customer data, scheduling callbacks when necessary, and switching to a more appropriate channel for better service are all important for saving a customer's time and energy and winning their loyalty.