The information below is invaluable for anyone seeking to work in an easy, home-based, online business in the field of Customer Service.
What Practices Make a Customer Service Representative Excellent?
If you enjoy helping people and solving problems, being a home-based Client Support Agent may be a perfect job for you. As diverse as they are, all praiseworthy Customer Service Representatives have one thing in common,...they are proficient at leaving a customer with a very positive customer experience. It does not matter what the customer complaint, question, or issue is, a professional and talented Customer Service Representative is adept at not only meeting a satisfied customer's expectations but exceeding them and turning them into a loyal customer. Great Customer Service Representatives autograph their work with excellence.
Many people who are new in the field of Customer Service often wonder what they have to do, to become an outstanding representative for whatever company they serve. That answer is one that details a long list of abilities to master; however, it is not impossible and can become much easier to achieve with the right attitude, determination, and a lot of practice.
Below is a comprehensive list of the best skills and practices of an excellent Customer Service Representative. Of course, this list is not applicable to every company. A strong customer service department is founded by solid leadership and empowered employees. Start there, then build with an emphasis on the customer service skills listed here. Your customer satisfaction scores will react accordingly and in your favor.
1. Practice Effective Listening and Attentiveness
Take the time to truly understand a customer's issues. Let them know that you are paying attention by rephrasing their issue in your own words and asking if it sounds correct. They will see that as an acknowledgement of their issue and it will make the customer feel as though they are being understood.
Make sure that you are fully present and engaged in the conversation, with your complete attention to their plight and use of acknowledgments as they speak. The use of "Mmhm" and "Ok", "I see", etc., work wonders.
2. Develop a very "thick skin" (EXTREMELY IMPORTANT)
Dealing with an angry or rude customer is a difficult and ugly reality in Customer Service. Representatives have to use some solid armor, as they are on the front lines of businesses. Fortunately, most Representatives do not experience a lot of angry customers on a regular basis but rest assured, they are out there and they will call. When a customer is angry, disappointed or frustrated with a product or service, whomever answers the phone is "the company", as far as they are concerned. It is very important that a Representative quickly learn how to let negative attitudes, anger, and even insults bounce off them like rubber.
You MUST sincerely let the customer know that you understand and support them, and foster an environment where they feel comfortable enough to "blow off some steam". Let them have their say. Angry customers oftentimes simply need to vent before they allow you to help them. So give them a minute, acknowledge their issue, and let them know that you are there to help. Just remember to take a couple of deep breaths and do your best with a sincere smile. The customer can always tell when you are being fake.
3. Be Patient, Keep Your Cool and Use Positive Language
It can seem a bit like playing Russian Roulette whenever you pick up the phone, as you don't know how you will be treated whenever you greet a customer; however, keeping your cool and being patient with a rude customer is critical to great customer service. If one is not patient, it makes dealing with a difficult customer, even harder. Realize that the customer's anger had little to do with you, and that you have the chance to turn their difficult day and problem into something positive.
Although empathizing with a customer is a key component of great service, you must remember to keep the conversation as upbeat as possible, steering the conversation towards a favorable outcome with positive language.
4. Use Clear Communication Skills
You will be a little surprised how difficult it is for many customers to properly communicate with a representative. Over a third of clients say that efficiently answering questions is the most important shill that a customer service representative can have. Many dissatisfied customers say that mumbling, losing focus and the use of unclear language us the source of their frustration with talking to a representative. Customer Service Representatives can be the most professional, empathetic and positive people in the business, but they have to be able to properly communicate with the customers.
5. Use Great Self Control
You never know what kind of customer you will get from one phone call to the next. Unfortunately, we live in a world where a single negative social media post about your company has as much impact on buyer decisions as five positive ones. That is quite a big deal! Although customer service can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, you always need to practice self-control, especially when a customer does not. Staying calm, positive and professional when a customer gets personal or nasty is very important. Just remember that there are very few consequences for a rude customer. A customer service representative that does not use self-control when interacting with a customer, has irreparable consequences.
6. Perfect Your Persuasive Speaking Skills
Usually, the most persuasive speaker in an organization is a salesperson. Persuasion is one of the most important sales skills to utilize and can be invaluable for your customer service. You will get used to turning problems into solutions and fair-weather customers into loyal brand evangelists. Just note that nearly 74% of consumers say that they spent more with a company because of positive service experiences (nearly 14% more). Having persuasive speaking skills is obviously important. So make sure that you learn to speak confidently, while staying positive and offer the kind of compelling arguments that lead to conversions.
7. Learn How To Be Empathetic
Empathy is always an important part of a good customer service skill list. Empathy is the ability to understand another person's point of view, experiences and emotions. Over 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer felt they were treated. Surprisingly, it is not entirely or mostly about whether they received a refund, or even got their problem solved. Just remember that the bottom line in most customer's minds is not financial, but emotional. Emotions are always more important than facts, plain and simple.
8. Use Good Time Management
Although we could all use more "time", it is the most limited resource we have. The best one can do is effectively manage their schedule. It is easy to get frustrated and flustered when you get interrupted, and quite tempting to let emails sit in the inbox a little longer or let the phone ring a few extra times. Doing so however, is always bad news. Nearly 84% of online shoppers will abandon a purchase or take their business elsewhere if they are not helped within five minutes. It can easily cost your company their business if the customer is put on the back-burner for a few minutes. It is best to make quick response times a priority. Streamlined systems make it quick and easy to update customer information and reports. You should have plenty of time your day to complete tasks, so you aren't having to choose between helping clients and fulfilling other responsibilities.
9. Have A Good Knowledge About Your Business
This is a basic tool but an important one. If you are not up-to-date on new sales, company policies, product specs, or how the purchasing process works, you will not be able to answer a customer's questions efficiently. Many customer service inquiries are great opportunities to make another sale. The chances of selling to an existing customer are 55% better than selling to a new customer, BUT...only if you know enough to make the right offer at the right time.
10. Be Adaptable!
When you work with the public, your days are going to be as diverse as the customers that you speak to. People are not the same and have different needs and concerns. Over 60% of your customers will change how they contact you depending upon where they are and what they are doing. This means that you will have inquiries via the phone, email, social media, and even in person, depending upon your situation. You can even have these various inquiries from the same customer. A good CRM is equipped to handle this challenge by integrating ticket sources and making customer information available, no matter what channel you're using. Customer service reps need that same flexibility to respond to a variety of situations in whichever way your customer's prefer at the moment.
11. Always Take Responsibility
Although you may solve a customer's issue, it doesn't mean they will stick around. How you solve an issue is as important as providing a solution. The key,...is to take responsibility for the customer's care. Customer service reps are on the front lines of satisfaction, but sometimes they can be the cause of the issue at hand. They can take responsibility for how the solution occurs, as 29% of customers day that the ability to handle requests without transfers or escalations is one of the most important skills for a representative. That is very important. 70% of customers who left companies say they would have stayed if their issue had been resolved in a single interaction instead of several.
12. Be Willing To Improve
No one is perfect, but a willingness to improve is a great trait to have as an employee of a company. Willingness is a skill that everyone needs in order to succeed. This is especially applicable to a customer service representative. Customer expectations are always changing and new technology to manage them is constantly emerging. You learn something new every day on a job. Financial incentives are a great motivator, but the National Business Research Institute says that 62% of employees are more motivated by approachable management, having the appropriate resources for their jobs, and the ability to stay informed about important issues and changes.
13. Be Able To Admit That You Don't Have The Answer
Oftentimes, customers will arm themselves with knowledge and attempt to solve their own issues before they contact a customer service rep. 39% of millennials check a company's FAQs page first. If that does not solve the issue, they eventually call the company, send an email, contact them through social media, or seek assistance through some other channel. It is embarrassing to have a customer know more than you, and if you get flustered while trying to hide your lack of knowledge, it can cause you to lose business. It is very important to admit when you do not know something or you are wrong, and offer to find the answer.
Just remember that there are no perfect Customer Service Representatives. The above skills are not easy to master and they take time, patience and lots of practice. Do not be overwhelmed. Learning to be an excellent Customer Service Representative, does not happen over night. So, take it one day at a time. Each skill builds on and complements the others. All you can do is focus on the Customer Service skills that can be improved the most, and move on to each additional skill from there. Chances are, you will see a marked improvement sooner than you think.