From checkout to the post-purchase experience, customer service has an important role to play in delivering your brand promise. After all, it is that one thing your competitors cannot replicate. Small businesses like online e-commerce stores are ideally placed to build a personal connection with customers than their larger competitors. Many businesses are going out of their way to create unmatched convenience for their customers. For e-commerce stores, this means offering free shipping, simplified returns, and guaranteed refunds.
While these factors certainly help, customer service is essentially about building relationships. Experts say that the foundation of all great relationships is great communication. However, when great service is broken down, it is but a mix of acquirable skills that can help brands build engagement and trust with shoppers. As a business process, technology is just one dimension of providing and measuring customer service effectiveness. The other dimension is a set of skills that are innate to every human being on the planet. In the world of business, the use of these skills can generate more than just repeat sales and referrals. They can win you a brand advocate for life.
Top 5 Customer Service Skills to Give Your Brand An Edge In The Market
Proactive customer service is the need of the hour. As the first point of contact for customers, agents can play a key role in helping your brand communicate better. So, let’s go ahead and find out about the most important customer service skills.
1. Listening skills
Too many customer service teams come up short on their listening skills. This impacts first contact resolution and creates a poor impression of the brand on customers. Listening is not just about passively taking in the information provided by a customer, it is equally about acknowledging with verbal nods and paraphrasing in order to confirm understanding.
Emphasize the importance of having the right attitude and train your agents to give customers their complete attention to avoid having them repeat themselves. Paraphrasing what a customer says can be a great way for your agents to build rapport with them. Since customers associate the competence and professionalism of an agent with his ability to listen to and comprehend their situation, good listening is a vital skill for your customer support team.
2. Providing alternatives
For customers, the ability to make a choice in any brand interaction is important. It gives them a sense of control. It is easy for customer service agents to settle into a certain rhythm and offer familiar solutions to common customer issues. However, the stock answer may not always help a customer. Agents must be able to think from the customer’s perspective when troubleshooting a problem and offer alternatives so that the customer can make his or her own choices.
Using the most appropriate words is critical to enlist a customer’s co-operation when their request is something that is not allowed under company policy. While offering the best possible alternative, customer support agents should avoid saying a direct ‘NO’. Instead, they should use phrases like, ‘Here’s what I can do for you’ or ‘Here are some alternatives that could help’. If a request cannot be fulfilled, always offer valid reasons for the same.
3. Being a customer advocate
Just as satisfied customers can be excellent advocates for your brand, your agents can take on the role of internal customer advocates. How? Customer support teams spend more time interacting with customers than perhaps any other department in your business. This means they are well aware of the routine problems being reported by customers. To leverage this information, agents must be encouraged to escalate trends in customer complaints and act as a vital link in resolving issues.
On the same note, the efforts at customer advocacy made by agents are often stymied by a lack of ‘real authority’- the ability to take on the spot decisions without consulting a manager. By putting a system of checks and balances in place, online stores can enable their agents to deliver more efficient, ‘one and done’ service to their customers. Managers must empower their agents to override procedures in the interest of customer experience, wherever required. A strong customer-first culture can bring you word-of-mouth referrals, positive reviews, and excellent Net Promoter Scores (NPS).
4. Faster response time:
A survey by Zingle, a business communication solutions company, revealed that 40% of customers considered faster response times as the biggest factor for improving customer experience. Your ability to meet growing customer service expectations depends on how knowledgeable and efficient your agents truly are. Merely telling customers “your call is important to us” is not enough. Measuring agent response times against the goal and identifying outliers is the first step in identifying the root cause. If it isn’t a routing problem that is to blame, it could be that some agents may be in need of additional training.
Creating a comprehensive knowledge base with suggested scripts can help your agents answer customer questions confidently in a much shorter amount of time. Encourage transparency and accountability within your customer service team to build a customer-centric culture.
5. Owning customer issues from start to finish
It can be frustrating for customers to be transferred to different agents and not find a resolution to their problems. Training agents to take ownership of customer issues can be a great way to differentiate your brand from the competition. Encourage agents to introduce a customer to the next agent and briefly explain the problem before transferring a call.
Use reporting data to identify opportunities for coaching and process improvement which can eliminate the need for transfers entirely. This can even save money by eliminating redundancies and even improve employee satisfaction.
A customer service attitude is a key attribute that distinguishes great service from the average. However, agents do need proper product and system training to assist customers to the best of their ability. Furthermore, the money you spend on training can be a waste if an agent decides to leave without notice.
This is where an outsourced customer support partner like Helplama can help you mitigate the inevitable customer impact. Our remote agents are extensively trained on your product and model your best in-house agents to offer exceptional service. Our flexible plans help you cut operating costs while getting better overall returns on investment. Contact us today to know more about how we can help you drive customer satisfaction in a cost-effective way.