15 Customer Service Skills of Great Customer Service Agents
Chief Business Officer
There are a lot of ways customers can get a hold of a business, which is where customer service agents come in. Most popular ways are still email and customer support phone line. Using social media for customer support gained popularity, which is why some companies like HP or Apple have a dedicated Twitter account only for support. Live chat on websites, as well as chatbots, seem to be the latest craze when it comes to helping your customers.
What Does Customer Service Mean to You?
Customer service involves much more than answering questions over the phone and calls. Responding to tickets through email, live chat, and social media are equally important communication channels for your customers. While there’s plenty of overlap in the customer service skills required to do a great job, each channel benefits from a unique approach to these skills.
15 Customer Service Skills for Agents:
1. Be confident
2. Always respond to queries
3. Don’t take obvious bait
4. Be comfortable with multitasking
5. Listen, really listen
6. Summarize Customer’s Query and next steps for customer
7. Patience is a virtue
8. Learn the Components of conflict resolution
9. Use positive language
10. Realize when it’s time to delegate
11. Do what needs to be done
12. Be time-efficient
13. Learn to feel comfortable with sales
14. Give your customers a way to provide feedback
15. Smile and have fun
Picture 1. Customer Service Agents
List of 15 Customer Service Skills:
Have you ever met those people who are so confident in their tone of voice, body language that you don’t question whatever they say? That could be you. Being confident shows customers that they’re in good hands and their problem is professionally being taken care of.
2.(Almost) Always Respond to Queries
This one goes especially if you have a social media account. Because social media is a fast-paced media, time and engagement are of utmost importance. The customer expects to have an answer within seconds. Of course, you won’t be able to answer every question from the top of your head, but it’s still important to answer right away, even if you don’t have the answer yet. Simply make quick initial contact with them and let them know where and when you’ll respond. Providing speedy responses means you’ve got to be adept in addressing a customer’s problem in a precise and polite tone. That being said, here’s our next
.Don’t Take Obvious Bait
There are always exceptions to rules, this is one of them. Some comments may be directed at the company simply to cause altercation in a public space. In these situations, it is important to have the skills to distinguish what is a maleficent comment and what an angry customer that needs our help asap. Most organizations know they can’t afford to have a customer service agent who makes mistakes on social media. The damage to the company’s reputation can be far-reaching.
.Be Comfortable with Multitasking
Depending on the company as a customer service agent you may be in charge of multiple channels to provide support, but more often than not, even if you’re monitoring only one channel, let’s say live chat on a website. Live chat agents are expected to handle more than one chat at a time, which is a skill in itself. Great multitaskers don’t lose sight of the bigger picture as they’re bombarded by questions. On another note, be careful not to handle too many chats, or else your customers will be waiting too long between responses. You can always put a chat “on hold” if you need more time to find an answer, but first, let them know that you’ll get back to them. Remember, (almost) always answer the customer!
5. Listen, Really Listen
The ability to really listen to customers is so crucial for providing great service for a number of reasons. Not all customers know exactly what kind of help they need. They have a broken product and they want it fixed, period. For instance, if you provide live streaming services and the customer’s link doesn’t work, he cannot connect to the stream, he doesn’t know what’s wrong, etc. Most likely, he doesn’t know what type of connection he used, or if he’s connected with a VPN somewhere else, or that this could cause an issue to begin with.
It takes a lot of training to understand the nuances of different customers, but it’s part of what makes someone successful at a job in customer service. Being able to read specific cues is a problem-solving skill that can give agents a better idea of how they can help. When it comes to important points that you need to relay clearly to customers, keep it simple and leave nothing to doubt.
6.Summarize Customer’s Query and Next Steps for the Customer
Did you ever meet those people that tend to repeat what you just asked? In your head, you think ‘’Captain obvious’’, but the low key you’re happy they got your question right. The same principle applies to customer service. You’ve got to listen to a customer’s problems to repeat information to them with supportive language, and do so in a way that summarizes the help that you’re providing them. This may come as a challenge, depending on the customer’s ability to explain their problem. Being able to adequately communicate all that you, as a customer support agent, are doing to help is a top job skill.
If you do this right, it shows the customer three crucial things:
- That you care about getting it right
- That you’re willing to keep going until you solve their problems
- That the customer is the one, who determines what “right” is.
7. Patience is a Virtue
We could put it in other words: keep your cool. We cannot stress this enough! Having patience is at the top of customer service skills. Customers who often reach out to support when they are confused and frustrated. It is your job to asses and calms the situation, and in the end, provide assistance to the customer. Patients shouldn’t be used as an excuse for lazy service either!
In essence, the primary customer service skill here is the ability to stay calm and even influence others when things get a little hectic. The best customer service reps know that they can’t let a heated customer force them to lose their cool; in fact, it is their job to try to be the “rock” for a customer who thinks the world is falling due to their current problem.
8.Learn the Components of Conflict Resolution
When you combine most of the skills in this article, it comes down to this: a customer service agent will need to be a problem solver. It is essential to know how to collect information and resolve the customer’s issue while staying within a company’s standards and procedures. You will need to remain professional and diplomatic.
9. Use Positive Language
The way we say things can come a long way in creating happy customers. Language is a vital part of persuasion, and people (especially customers) create perceptions about you and your company based off of the language that you use. Responding to questions employ “positive language” can significantly affect how the customer hears your response.
An example: Let’s say a customer contacts you with interest in a particular product, but that product happens to be back-ordered until next month.
- Without positive language: “I can’t get you that product until next month; it is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
- With positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse.”
It is quite apparent which option is better. It’s not that the first example is wrong, it’s just that by using positive language we seem to be more inclined to go out of our way to solving customer’s problem.
10.Realize When It’s Time to Delegate
Just as you cannot win all battles, you can’t have all the answers. The trick is to know when you cannot help the customer yourself and need to delegate it to someone who can. This is the most professional way to go about it. Don’t waste time trying to go above and beyond for a customer in an area where you will end up losing both of your time!
Picture 2. Email can be a strong tool as customer service skill
11. Do What Needs to be Done
The memorable customer service stories out there (many of which had a significant impact on the business) were created by a single employee who refused to do the “status quo” when it came to helping someone out. In other words, put your client’s interest first, the customer is the king, etc. Of course, there’s a fine line between the company’s and customer’s interest.
The real skill is to do what needs to be done without taking any shortcuts. Remembering that your customers are people too, and knowing that putting in the extra effort will come back to you ten-fold should be your driving motivation to never “cheat” your customers with lazy service.
12. Be Time-Efficient
This means to be quick to respond and find a solution for the customer. As mentioned, you will not be able to solve every question yourself, but you might be the person that will be in contact with your customer. It is your job to make sure all stakeholders you need information from, get back to you in time for you to be able to provide feedback to the customer. An example can be if a customer sends a private message on a company’s website, and the person who’s viewing it is a marketer rather than tech or product support.
It is marketers job to get the information from tech support and get back to the customer as soon as possible.
13.Learn to Feel Comfortable with Sales
Sales are usually not part of a customer service agent’s job. Nonetheless, a customer’s problem could be that he doesn’t fully understand the specifics of a product, or cannot make up his mind on which product to purchase. Talk to people and identify their needs. This will help you recommend specific products and services. Identifying needs and matching them to purchases will help you become an excellent customer service agent. In the end, it’s not about making a sales pitch, but it is about not letting potential customers slip away.
14. Give Your Customers a Way to Provide Feedback
As Bill Gates said: “Your most unsatisfied customer is your greatest source of learning. Because no matter how proactive you are, you cannot help every single customer with every single issue”. But why not learn from them? To make sure you learn, create an easily accessible way for customers to give feedback. Some examples of how you can do it are a phone survey at the end of a service call; an email survey sent directly from your CRM tool or a form on the “Contact Us” page of your website.
Not only does this help you get insight into what you can improve, but it also keeps unhappy customers’ frustrations to the feedback form, rather than a Facebook rant that can reach thousands of people, making far more significant damage to your company’s reputation. Not only will you discover touchpoints and skills that need improvement, but your customers will see that you’re dedicated to providing top-notch, proactive customer service.
15.Smile & Have Fun
Keep in mind that a good mood is contagious. Even though most skills needed are in lines of conflict solving, not all customers are frustrated and need this kind of approach. If you treat every customer with kindness and a smile on your face (yes even through phone, one can hear in what mood you depend on your voice). Agents should be able to consistently maintain a positive demeanor and keep a smile on their face day in and day out.
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