Customer service is one of the toughest jobs out there. To be good at customer service, one must be able to put their own needs aside for their working hours and be able to concentrate fully on other people. Focusing solely on the needs of others can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, this is why consistently great customer service representatives can be hard to come by.
Great customer service representatives make use of excellent customer service skills for success. Some people naturally do these things, while others may have to practice. Either way, the best customer service skills for success can be shared and learned to create a customer service team worthy of praise. Here are ten essential customer service skills you and your team should learn to embrace.
Solid Understanding of the Product or Service
Starting off with the easy one here, understanding your product or service is absolutely necessary for excellent customer service. If a customer calls with questions about what they may or may not be purchasing do you think that they will follow through with an order if you are unable to answer their questions? If you are running a customer service team, be sure that your representatives have a clear understanding of their job, the product or service being offered, and know where to find additional information if it is needed.
Goal-Setting to Always be Your Best
Setting goals for a customer service team aside from sales targets, call times, and hang-up rates is a great way to give your team an extra push to use their excellent customer service skills consistently. Goal-setting and tracking for a customer service team can be done by monitoring favorable comment rates in social media, returned surveys analyzing customer service satisfaction, and repeat customer rates. Adding customer satisfaction goals to your weekly team analysis will give representatives a benchmark to shoot for and influence them to use their best customer service skills all of the time.
Patience is one of the more overlooked virtues in society today with everything happening so fast; people expect to get what they want now. There are high expectations for customer service representatives to be able to answer questions and solve problems, right now. Often when customers don’t get what they want right away, the conversation can become quickly heated causing both the representative and the customer to lose their cool. Customer service representatives need to be taught to remove their own emotions from their work and exhibit patience with customers on many levels. Sometimes customers don’t quite understand what it is that they need, or they may be having a hard day and are inadvertently taking it out on you. Using patience with these customers can be a tough customer service skill for success to learn. When you are able to remove your personal feelings from the conversation and bring the customer back to a place where communication is possible, you will be able to get to the bottom of the issue and make your company shine.
Another essential customer service skill for success is the ability to listen to what your customers are saying to you. Usually, customer service representatives are given a set of scripts to follow depending on why a customer is calling. Reading the same thing over and over again can become monotonous and cause you to detach from your work. While half of your head is daydreaming about margaritas on the beach, the other half is rattling off the script. Ask yourself, when you are fantasizing while talking to a customer are you really listening to them and understanding their specific needs?
Think about it this way, when you call customer service unless you are calling a government agency you are not likely to spend the entire day on the phone. It is commonly a one-off event that will consume a few minutes of your day. Calling customer service is an isolated event for you, and you are going to be able to tell if a customer service representative is paying attention to what you are saying.
Change up the monotony by listening to the customer and tailoring the interaction to what they are saying, how they are saying it, and what their reactions are. Mastering this customer service skill can lead to shorter call times, happier customers, and push some good karma your way.
People come from many different backgrounds and have developed their own way to communicate and understand things. When you are in the business of communicating with people, it is important to remember that not all people think like you. While interacting with customers, you want to be as direct and explicit about things as possible to not cause confusion from your end.
Customers do not often call companies when things are going well and just say “thank you.” Customers call in when they don’t understand something, or something has gone wrong. Clear and concise communication is a customer service skill that should always be used, misleading language can cause misunderstandings and errant customer expectations.
A prime example here is home service workers such as plumbers and electricians. The service worker assesses the job, gives you an estimate, then sends you a final statement for twice the cost without alerting you to additional work to be done beforehand. Events like this usually lead customers to alternative companies or a YouTube DIY video. Being as upfront and simple as possible in your customer conversations will avoid future issues and help you to retain customers in the long run.
The ability to truly walk in another’s shoes. Not many people are born with this skill, and most people will go through their lives never learning this skill. To be an outstanding customer service representative; empathy is a required customer service skill. When faced with a grumpy customer that has had a bad day, empathy can take you far. Calling customer service is not something most people have at the top of their list of fun things to do during the day. Customers often feel put out by having to make the effort to call a customer service center to get something done or solve an issue. Customer service representatives with the ability to empathize with customers will have a much easier time finding the right path to a successful resolution.
To better hone your empathy skills you can make an effort to speak to and understand people that you do not associate with on a daily basis. Another way to work on this skill is to take an acting class or do some role-playing with a friend and literally embody another persona so you can get an understanding of how others may be feeling or perceiving things.
Positive Language and Positive Thinking
The art of turning a negative conversation into a positive one with a customer lies in the customer service repristinates ability to use positive speaking and thinking skills. When customers start flinging verbal nails your way, your job is to meet those nails with a peg board and turn them into flower petals. The analogy may sound silly, but turning a negative conversation into a positive one will leave your customers happier and more likely to make purchases down the road.
For example, if a product is on backorder and will not be restocked for two weeks, tell the customer that the product will be available in two weeks. Let them know that they can leave their information to have it directly shipped, or to be notified when it arrives. When a customer asks for something, and you reply with a simple no, they will leave the conversation with negative feelings and be less satisfied than the customer that was accommodated for the future return of the product.
Persuasive speaking is an excellent customer service skill for success. Persuasively speaking to the customer, whether you are selling things to them or just wanting to get an understanding of where they are coming from will improve customer interaction. You can easily augment your speech to be persuasive by addressing the customer by name, repeating back to them what they have said to you in your own words, and using action-oriented language. Action-oriented language gets customers in a forward-thinking frame of mind and removes you, the customer service representative from the focus of the conversation. This customer service skill makes your customer the focal point of the discussion and will allow them to feel as though your company is hearing them.
Responsibility is a customer service skill for success on a couple of levels. You are the main point of contact with customers; the customer will associate their qualms with your company with you. You should be able to apologize or save face in the name of the company without attaching your own thoughts, feelings, ego to the situation.
On the other side of the coin, you are responsible for the customer’s experience with the company and understanding vital information to be able to do your job. When you are personally wrong about something with a customer or do not have an answer, it is up to you to realize this, apologize for your personal ineptitude, and get the customer in contact with someone that can help them with their issue.
Always Working to be Better
We all have our days, good days, bad days, and days in between. It is vitally important that we take our mistakes in stride and learn from them. Learn in any way that you can, how to better yourself and your customer service skills. There are many ways this can be done. You can attend customer service workshops, purchase self-help books, hire a coach, team up with a friend or co-worker and do customer service skills exercises and challenges together. You know you had a good day when you can report that you have learned at least one new thing about customer service.
Essential customer service skills can be developed and worked on in almost every interaction in your life. If you are working to better your customer skills for success or you are working with a team, set some goals for education and tracking customer satisfaction. Set up some in-house workshops to get your customer service team thinking about how they can improve their customer service