To be at the top of their game, customer service agents need a range of specific skills to draw from. These skills will take your customer service team to the next level and will ensure return customers for your business.
Strong communication and friendly customer service are at the core of any successful business. Often this is the only point of contact that your target market will have with your company, so investing in well-trained, empathetic staff is an effective way to differentiate your business from the competition. Although every customer service team lead is aware of the importance of communication skills, it can be difficult to know where to start to supply your team with the best tools.
There are certain skills that each customer service agent should master to ensure that every customer interaction is as smooth and positive as possible.
Persuasive speaking skills
Although this skill is typically aligned with sales representatives in a company, it’s one of the most useful tools for any customer service agent. That’s because every day your representatives are presented with problems that they must turn into solutions. Persuasive speaking is all about understanding your audience and their needs and being able to think laterally and spontaneously.
It’s not a skill that can be developed overnight, however — instead we suggest investing in online learning to help build the expertise of your team from the ground up. Coursera offers an online course called Speaking to persuade: Motivating audiences with solid arguments and moving language. It covers how to communicate in a clear, convincing and compelling way to tackle any problems that are presented. According to Salesforce, 74% of consumers say they spend more money with a company after having a positive customer service experience, so investing in strong communication skills for your employees will pay back in the long run.
Invest in a multilingual team
Depending on the breadth and scope of your customer base, investing in the language skills of your employees could significantly impact the customer experience. Promoting international support shows your customers you have all bases covered and are well-prepared for a competitive, global market. A 2015 poll by Call Centre Helper found that only a third of customer service centers are able to handle calls in more than one language. Babbel for Business has courses in 14 languages, from Portuguese to Russian, with bite-size, industry-specific lessons.
So if your company provides your customer service department with the tools to learn a new language or to improve their language skills, they’ll be taking steps to set themselves ahead of the competition. Similarly, customers who do not feel like their questions or concerns can be addressed due to a language barrier are likely to turn elsewhere.
Babbel for Business offers language courses that are designed to target and train problem areas such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. With the Babbel learning platform, learners can absorb knowledge on their lunch breaks or on their way to work, which is much more time and cost efficient than classroom lessons.
Empathy is one of the most sought after and crucial tools for any customer service agent. It’s the way in which they can relate to and communicate with a customer. Demonstrating empathy leads to more positive customer experiences, better human connections, and speedily resolved issues.
Some might say that empathy is a personality trait rather than a skill to be learned. However, several techniques can be applied to improve empathy. As team lead, you can enhance this skill through active listening sessions, role play, and providing empathetic key words and phrases to your employees.
The ability to turn negative language into positive language is a true skill that takes time to master. When a customer gets in touch with your company, in most cases it’s because they have a problem or a complaint. As a result, the customer service representative will be faced with negative language almost immediately. It’s important your employees are able to turn the language around to drive forward a more positive outlook and end result.
Teaching your employees how to focus on the solution is a key aspect of this skill. Another is providing them with the language needed to deal with these scenarios. This involves thanking customers for their patience and understanding. Your employees will need to gauge when the time is right to practice empathy or use humor to create a positive experience. Doing this effectively takes perceptiveness and emotional intelligence and is crucial to the success of a customer service agent.
Effective listening is the ability to take the time to truly understand the problem and listen to the customer with your full attention. One simple way of demonstrating this is to rephrase their issue back to them, to show you understand the problem and have digested it fully. Another way to demonstrate effective listening is to check in with the customer as you speak, asking if you have understood their issue correctly, which will make them feel heard and consulted.
Effective listening empowers the customers, making them feel as though their issue is worth fighting for and not like they are an inconvenience for complaining. The ability to demonstrate this skill will ensure your customer base comes back to your business time and time again.
Lilly Miner, Expert for Digital Learning
Lilly focuses on different learning methods. Whether online learning or blended learning – the motivation of the learners is particularly important to her.