10 customer satisfaction skills that agents cannot do without
Why are solid customer satisfaction skills conducive to success?
When asked why they feel they would make a good customer service representative, aspiring hires can find themselves at a loss for an answer. Nevertheless, there are certain crucial customer satisfaction skills which every hire must demonstrate.
Customers won’t walk away from an experience with a conscious appreciation of the customer satisfaction skills of the rep they spoke to. However, they’ll be left with an impression of how the interaction made them feel, and a sense of whether or not they consider it successful.
This is where these customer satisfaction skills come in. A well-rounded agent will utilise them over the course of customer interaction in order to improve the exchange as a whole, and encourage customer happiness.
We’ll examine ten of these customer satisfaction skills, and look at ways to develop or hone them.
Patience is arguably the most important customer satisfaction skills for any representative looking to succeed.
First, patience is necessary when tackling a difficult service issue, or when facing an agitated customer. Thorough service is preferred over speedy service, so remaining even-keeled and unflappable is key. When the customer is flustered or angry, being patient and calm will bring them down to your level and defuse the situation.
Second, it is sorely needed when fielding similar customer service issues day after day. The repetition can be grating, and lead to a shorter temper or a loss of interest. When the person on the other line is struggling to understand what you’re explaining, or if the resolution to their problem is slow-going, you’ll need to be patient.
How can I become more patient?
Practicing patience is an demonstration of patience itself, so it may seem a little frustrating. However, there are ways to exercise patience and become less quick to anger.
- Recognise the moment when you become impatient. If you find yourself exhibiting signs such as rapid breathing, restless movements, irritability or anger, then you’ll know you’re about to lose your cool. If you’re on the phone, this gives you a chance to recognise those symptoms before your interlocutor does, and take steps to put a stop to them.
- Manage the symptoms. Force yourself to slow down, lest you say or do something regrettable on impulse. Take slow, deep breaths, concentrate on relaxing and stilling your muscles. Instead on focusing on your own irritability, practice active listening and focus on the customer.
- Heighten your tolerance. When you find yourself in an unpleasant situation in which you find yourself growing impatient, remind yourself that this is merely uncomfortable. Inhabit the moment, and soon you’ll find your tolerance for discomfort is on the rise. Next time, you’ll be less likely to be triggered by the same level of malaise.
The ability to stay focused and organized is crucial to any customer service agent. You’ll need to allot your time effectively. Therefore, learning to prioritize customer issues is key in order to identify the most pressing issues.
Being organized will improve your immediate interaction with customers, but also leave a beneficial trace. After a call, you’ll need to keep a record of the important details, those which will serve the next time the customer gets in touch. Being organized will also help you ensure consistently high customer satisfaction.
How can I become more organized?
Prioritize your tasks according to the necessary level of effort and the corresponding payout for you or the customer. This will help you differentiate important tasks from urgent ones.
Make a task calendar, and stick to it. Commit to deadlines, and don’t be afraid to delegate or ask for help. You can find a plethora of apps to help you plan and meet your deadlines. The trick to being organized is to set new, productive habits, then to stay consistent in your customer satisfaction skills.
When working as a customer service agent, speed is of the essence. You’ll be fielding a lot of demands, and it’s important to use your customer satisfaction skills to try to resolve issues on the first call . Besides, while on the phone with a customer, you’ll need to be on different fronts at once: listening to the customer, looking at their information, and finding a solution to their problem.
How can I work quicker?
Multi-tasking during a call can be facilitated by using the right tools, such as having your CRM integrate with your business phone. This way, when a caller gets in touch, their information will pop up on your screen, eliminating the need to switch back and forth between platforms. It will also help synchronise details of client interaction with your CRM, making them available for the next customer service situation.
Once you’ve become more organized and confident in your process, you’ll find it’s easier to take on more work.
Nevertheless, with that aforementioned confidence can come a sense of routine. Another important customer satisfaction skill is flexibility, since you will necessarily face surprises during your work. You might have hit your stride, found your process, or even be working with a script, but you’ll still need to remain adaptable.
How can I become more adaptable?
Being able to think on your feet will come with practice. However, you can shorten your odds by setting guidelines for yourself in the case of the unexpected.
Don’t give too much clout to your script. While training material can be a very useful resource, it shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all guide to customer interaction. If you find that the conversation is taking an unexpected turn, don’t be afraid to deviate from the script and improvise.
Plan ahead and figure out your go-to person if you really find yourself in above your head. Link a logical chain of command in your head, and sort out who you can turn to for specific issues. This will let you avoid floundering in the heat of the moment and frustrating the customer.
5. Knowledge of the product
In order to advise customers properly, you’ll need a thorough understanding of the product they use every day. If you aren’t closely familiar with the ins and outs of the product or service you provide, you won’t be able to grasp the issues your customers run into.
How can I get to know the product?
Initial and regular training is paramount in that regard As a customer service agent, you’ll need to be onboarded properly when you start your employment. Coworkers of all descriptions should pitch in to the training process, to give you a solid command of the product from both a technical and user perspective.
Regular training sessions should be scheduled as well, in order to stay up to date. The content of these “booster shots” should reflect ongoing customer troubles and product updates.
6. Ease of communication
Once you’re comfortable with the product, you’ll need to to pass on that knowledge with ease. Being able to communicate well will be immensely useful to your customer service work, regardless of the channel.
If you tend to ramble and embellish, it’ll take that much more time to finish an email or wrap up a call, and you’ll be squandering the customer’s valuable time in the process. If you cannot precisely tune your vocabulary to the situation, the customer could misunderstand you and run into problems down the line. In order to boost customer satisfaction, you’ll need to be clear, concise, and effective.
How can I learn to communicate well?
Effective spoken and written communication depends both on your manner and on your confidence.
The latter can be inflated by knowing the product like the back of your hand, and having faith in your own abilities to solve a customer’s problem. By being confident in your stance, you’ll be able to take charge of the conversation, accompany the customer’s understanding, and manage their expectations.
You can improve the former by making an effort to speak slowly, giving yourself time to think ahead. Enunciate clearly, and give the caller a chance to chime in if they need you to explain further or reformulate. In any case, keep things simple and leave nothing up to chance.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the emotions of another person. As far as customer satisfaction skills go, it’s invaluable for two reasons: first, being empathetic will allow you to better understand your customer, and second it will give the customer a more satisfactory experience.
Providing empathetic customer service is important to creating customer satisfaction. The objective is for the customer to come away from the interaction with the impression of having been understood and cared for. Being empathetic will make it easier for the customer to trust you and your advice. By combining empathy and assertiveness, you’ll be able to direct the conversation towards a mutually beneficial outcome.
How can I convey empathy to the customer?
Being empathetic is a natural human quality. However, it can be challenging to demonstrate empathy towards a difficult customer. Nevertheless, especially if the customer is falling apart due to a problem, you’ll need to be their port in a storm.
- Listen closely. Let the customer express themselves firsthand. It will make it easier for you to empathise with their needs and motivations, and give them an opportunity to vent. Don’t make assumptions, and let them show you how you can best make them feel taken care of.
- Take ownership of the problem. Show the caller that you’re taking charge. Don’t pass the buck, and put yourself on the customer’s team.
- Be respectful. Above all else, remain polite and considerate. Being empathetic doesn’t mean treating the customer like a close friend. Stay professional, but project benevolence and attentiveness to the customer.
Being attentive means going beyond immediate empathy, and picking up on customer needs and expectations in a proactive way. Most often, customer’s won’t explicitly tell you what they expect, so you’ll need to learn to “read” them. You don’t want to lose a sale or a customer due to miscommunication. Being attentive will let you stay ahead of the customer and proactively resolve potential pain points.
How can I be more attentive?
Listen actively, and pay attention to the customer’s tone and choice of words as well as their message. When a customer tells you that they called you up due to a given issue, it could be a clue that some other link in the chain let them down, such as your FAQ or self-help database.
Being attentive over the phone, without seeing the interlocutor face to face requires even more dedication. Look for contextual indications of the customer’s mood and energy level, then match your own to theirs. This will foster a friendly atmosphere, and help you stay in charge of the interaction.
When facing a customer, especially when delivering bad news, you’ll need to stay positive. It may seem trite to say so, but the fact is that putting a positive spin on any interaction will have a notable effect on the customer’s overall impression.
Being positive will also have a beneficial effect on you, the agent. Working customer service can be gruelling at times, and remaining undaunted and upbeat is important to your mental health.
How can I have a more positive outlook?
In order to express positivity to the customer, you can tweak your language.
Instead of admitting, “I don’t know”, you might say, “Let me find out for you”. Rather than conceding, “That product is unavailable”, promise “This product will be available two weeks from now, would you like me to set one aside for you?”.
The first examples might not seem negative, but they are impersonal and uninvested. These seemingly innocuous turns of phrase will put the customer in a more positive state of mind.
As for your own self-preservation, you’ll need to take steps to ensure you don’t burn yourself out on customer service. Take breaks, rely on your team and your manager, and practice self-care, whatever that may mean for you.
Bonus skill: Willingness to learn
No matter your skill level and the customer satisfaction skills you already possess, you’ll need to constantly challenge yourself to improve.
In order to keep up with quotas, customer expectations, and customer loyalty, agents must be willing to learn: both from their mistakes and their triumphs. Stay humble, fresh, and invested, and you’ll find that every customer interaction will be instructive and allow you to refine your skills.
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