Outstanding customer service is more important to your business than you may realize.
Believe it or not, consumers admit they’ll pay an impressive 16 percent more for the luxury of a better experience with a brand. What’s more, 65 percent of Americans say a good CX is more influential on their buying decisions than advertising.
But for some companies, customer service is a formality. They may not actually invest in hiring the right candidates or training them to reach their potential. Simpler and (possibly) cheaper? Sure. Good for business? Not at all.
Well-trained employees who know what they’re doing and why are vital to ongoing success, but what is the essence of being a call center agent? And what can yours do to improve the level of CX they deliver?
The Key Skills Good Service Agents Need (and Tips to Improve)
Agent lifecycles can be short in call centers. People might apply for the job in the belief that it’s easy work, only to find it’s more challenging and demanding than they expected.
The ideal service agent has a natural flair for dealing with people combined with great, in-depth training. They’ll leave customers satisfied and willing to come back to your business again and again.
So, what is the essence of being a call center agent? Here are three vital skills:
Thinking outside the box
As a service agent, you might not always have the solution in front of you. A customer may be having a bad day and become upset during an interaction. They could ask a question you’ve never heard before, leaving you struggling to find the answer you’re looking for in your usual database.
Even worse, something may go wrong with the tools you depend on and you have to improvise to help the customer, rather than simply ending the call.
That’s what makes a creative mindset and an ability to think outside the box helpful. Basically, you’ll think on your feet when the situation demands and keep a cool head. You won’t panic and leave the caller with nothing but ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ for ten minutes while you try to figure things out.
Training can help you rehearse potential situations like those mentioned above and explore solutions. You have to be adaptable enough to react to surprises in a professional capacity, and placing yourself in a theoretical crisis is a safe way to practice.
A talent for communication
Strong communication skills are paramount as a successful service agent. You’ll interact with a diverse range of customers and be expected to engage with them well enough to provide a positive CX.
Not a natural talker? That’s where effective coaching and training comes in. Role-play, listening to call recordings and feedback as part of a strategic quality assurance program will all help strengthen your communication skills in the long term.
A patient attitude
Sometimes, customers get angry. Sometimes, they even get abusive. It’s never nice for the agent on the receiving end, but you still have to find a way to resolve the customer’s problem to maintain great service.
Patience is a major aid in situations like these, and when dealing with customers who may be confused or struggle to articulate themselves. You can become more patient by remembering that the customer’s anger isn’t aimed at you personally, nor is a confused or inarticulate caller out to annoy you deliberately.
Focus on the transience of the interaction too: it’ll only last minutes, and then you may never have to speak with them again. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and empathize with them too. Ask yourself: wouldn’t you like someone to be patient with you in their situation?
A willingness to learn
Growth is part of any job, in any field. Nobody peaks immediately.
As a service agent, you must remember that your role has its own learning curve. You’ll make mistakes from time to time, but these are opportunities to develop and progress.
Being open to feedback during quality assurance and engaging with critiques will help you deliver a better CX — and make yourself more valuable to the business.
A Positive Effect on your Business
Delivering quality customer service will only benefit your company in the long run. Here’s how:
Build a reputation for excellence
On average, consumers will tell 11 people about good service they’ve experienced, while they’ll spread word of bad service to 15 people. Millennials, though, will inform a staggering 17 people about great CX — quite a difference from other demographics.
Now just imagine if every customer who received high-quality treatment from your service agents told 11 or 17 others to check your business out. Imagine how much extra opportunities that would bring.
That’s the power of a good reputation.
Gather valuable feedback
Testimonials on your website help to establish credibility with new customers and tell people exploring your business that you’re worth their time and money.
Reviews on social media and on Google results pages do the same job. 84 percent of consumers trust reviews as much as they do a recommendation from a friend, which means they play a key part in people’s decisions.
Encourage customers to leave positive feedback after receiving great service, to boost your reputation and stimulate growth.
Attracting new customers costs between five and 25 times more than retaining existing ones. If you’re constantly chasing people away with poor service, that translates into a lot of avoidable expense.
Good CX, on the other hand, will help retain customers in the long term. If they know they’ll be treated well, get a fast response and have problems resolved on the first call, why would they go anywhere else?
Utilizing an ongoing quality assurance program in your call center is essential to keep refining service agents’ performance. Managers and agents can both learn to grow by evaluating their respective work. Not only does this process lead to better customer experiences, it helps agents develop their skills and rewards managers with a more efficient, productive workforce.
Well-trained service agents can have a positive impact on your business by boosting retention, securing customer loyalty, building your reputation and spurring effective word of mouth.
As we’ve discussed, there are certain traits the best agents bring to the job, but training is critical to build on the foundations. Every call center should embrace quality assurance to keep enhancing customer experience and equipping agents with the tools they need to grow.
What training do you have in place for your service agents, and what benefits has this brought?