Great customer service forms the backbone of any successful business. But achieving it isn’t easy. It demands certain skills. The top two?
Patience and empathy.
But that’s just the start. There’s a whole skillset your employees need to ensure the best possible customer experience.
Customer Satisfaction is Important
Ask yourself, is great customer service a priority for your business?
It should be.
“ 45% of customers are willing to pay more for better customer service. ”
So, what’s the secret?
It all starts with an understanding of your customers; knowing what they want from you and how best to give it to them. Certain psychological traits help your staff achieve this by connecting with customers.
Patience is the key. Without it, the staff can’t take the time to fully understand a customer’s situation. Unfortunately, patience is difficult to train. Bear this in mind and make sure you identify it at the interview stage.
You might want to ask questions like:
- Tell me about a time at work where you were frustrated, but kept calm and dealt with the problem.
- Tell me about something you have worked on that took longer than expected. What were the sticking points and how did you get past them?
This gives you real-life examples of candidate behavior. If they answer well, it’s a good bet they’ll show patience when it matters. On the other hand, if a candidate struggles to answer, perhaps they’re not the right fit for you.
Seeing things from the customer’s perspective is core to customer service success. Sadly, understanding and compassion are continually underrated skills.
Empathetic customer service agents are highly rated. No wonder. Putting themselves in the customer’s shoes means issues are better understood. Train your staff to really show this side of themselves.
Encourage them to set the tone for positive interactions by telling customers:
- I appreciate your patience.
- I’d feel the same way in your position.
- I agree that’s frustrating.
- Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
- I can imagine how you feel.
Affirming statements like these demonstrate genuine care on the part of employees. Customers appreciate it. Don’t forget though, your agents still need exceptional product knowledge to actually solve the issues!
According to one study, the average human attention span has reduced from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. It’s just so easy for customer service agents to miss important details unless they pay full attention. And it matters…
Research indicates that up to 33% of customers feel frustrated if they have to repeat themselves multiple times to customer service representatives.
Failing to listen properly can lead to miscommunication and false assumptions. Customers will get frustrated. Some companies prefer emails to avoid this problem, but emails lack the human touch and are devoid of verbal or emotional cues. The exact tone remains ambiguous, so confusion is always a possibility.
Live chat enables real-time human interactions while making it easier to keep track of information. The stats don’t lie. According to one study, companies using live chat see a 20% increase in conversions, compared to companies that don’t.
Communication-based customer service skills
Beyond the core psychological skills all customer service agents need; different modes of communication may require additional skills.
Talking to customers on the phone can be tricky. Messages can easily get muddled without visual cues. Keeping customers relaxed with a positive and cheerful tone helps mitigate against this.
In fact, the age-old advice still works:
Smile as you greet a customer on the phone. It sets the tone for a friendly exchange. Beware though, 'smiling' at any angry customer could be taken the wrong way.
Mirror your customers
An average person speaks up to 150 words per minute. Match this speed. Try to meet your customers’ tone appropriately. Don’t match an angry customer with an angry tone, but do maintain a clear voice to make sure you are heard.
Reflect and validate
Good listeners make great speakers. Let your customers finish before even trying to offer a solution. Be clear you understand them. It shows you are listening.
Once a customer has vented, they will calm down. Now they are more receptive. Time to acknowledge their problem and make sure they feel heard.
Repeat back what the customer has told you. Be supportive. Demonstrate that you understand the problem.
Live chat customer service skills
Integrating live chat software on your website can revolutionize your business. But remember, you still need to train your staff to get the most out of the technology.
Strong writing skills
Strong writing skills keep customers engaged. On the flip side, poor grammar and typos leave your customers with an awful impression of your business.
It’s often difficult to understand a customer’s tone on live chat. Support staff must be trained to interpret a customer’s intent from the type of language they are using. Without the cues of tonality.
Here's how to handle a client whose problem cannot be resolved:
Agent: Hi Marcin, thanks for telling us about your situation.
I understand it’s frustrating to lose a feature you’ve come to rely on. Although it isn’t something we intend to replace, I can share with you the reasons why we made the change, and how it can potentially benefit you in the long run. see the improvements in your account very soon.
Marcin: The feature was already helping me; why can’t I have it back?
Agent: I would be asking the same questions in your situation Marcin. The short answer is, it was a complex feature to maintain and wasn’t used by many customers. A lot of resources were going on something that wasn’t making our product better for the majority of our customers.
We had to drop the feature to reallocate resources to other areas. You’ll see the improvements in your account very soon.
Marcin: But that doesn’t solve my problem.
Agent: Yes, Marcin.
That’s true it doesn’t solve your issue immediately. However, our other customers have found <alternative> to be a good alternative for that functionality. If you’d like to share more detail on how you were using it, I’d be happy to give you my best advice.
Here, effective use of empathy and product knowledge are used to satisfy a frustrated client. Clear and concise language gets across the information while showcasing the customer-centric approach of your organization.
Given a complicated situation, an agent has three possible responses:
- I can’t solve this case.
- It will take some time to resolve, but I assure you it will be.
- Could I please put you on hold for 2 minutes before I come back to you with a resolution?
The second is clearly better than the first. The extra time doesn’t matter as the customer is assured of a result. The third is best of all, as the wait time is clear. Of course, it may take longer, in which case they should check back after 2 minutes, even if it’s just to say it will take longer.
The bottom line
Businesses no longer compete on price, but on the quality of experience, they deliver. Customer service has a massive bearing on your market share. Remember, customers are ready to pay more for better customer service, so it makes perfect sense to invest in customer-centric technologies such as live chat and intelligent chatbots. Combine these technologies with engaging customer interactions by giving staff the proper training and you’re well on your way to a successful strategy.
Can you think of any other customer service skills you’d add to this list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.