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Essential Customer Service Skills for Every Call Center Agent

May 15, 2019 Jim Iyoob

As the primary point of contact in the customer experience, call center agents to play an integral role in the success of a company. A negative encounter with a service representative may drive a potential long term customer to a competitor, while a positive interaction can result in long-term retention and referrals. Quality customer service is so vital to the bottom line of a business that 81 percent of companies implementing a robust call center agent training program with a heavy focus on an outstanding consumer experience will outperform their industry rivals. However, simply directing your service agents to follow a boilerplate procedure on calls won’t result in the high customer satisfaction rate you need to thrive in today’s hypercompetitive, global exchange. Instead, you need to guide your team in developing a specific skill set that will foster consumer trust and confidence and ensure the longevity of your business.

1. Stress the Importance of Empathy.

Your call center agents will regularly encounter customers who are confused, angry, and frustrated. While it’s natural to respond to negative emotions by becoming defensive or dismissive, your team needs to know that such reactions are unacceptable. Instead, they should strive to see a situation from the consumer’s perspective to gain insight and understanding while working to resolve the issue. Train your agents to use empathy statements when handling complaints that will help to build a rapport with the caller, such as “I’m sorry to hear that,” and “I can imagine how upsetting this situation must be for you.” Emphasize that they need to take ownership of a negative customer situation, which means transferring calls to a supervisor or another department only when necessary. Quality customer service begins with respect and understanding, so instill these values into your team training program to elevate the front-end experience.

2. Promote Attentive Listening.

Recent studies have shown that 72 percent of consumers will rate their service experience negatively when they must explain their complaint or issue to multiple company representatives before reaching a solution. Therefore, it’s vital that your team of live chat agents understands that outstanding customer service skills entail listening as much as speaking. Encourage them to allow callers to vent about a substandard product or service without interrupting or immediately offering feedback. They can then begin to ask to follow up questions to develop a deeper understanding of the problem while relaying the customer’s responses back to them to ensure clear communication. Above all, make sure your agents understand that a customer should never feel rushed to end a call before their issue is resolved. Allowing consumers the opportunity to detail their frustration while actively listening to their complaints and developing a personalized solution is one of the most effective ways to provide quality customer service.

3. Emphasize Product Knowledge.

Since over 66 percent of consumers consider the features, design, and quality of a product or service the most important factor in brand loyalty, ensuring your chat agents can comfortably discuss every aspect of what your business offers is a fundamental element of a seamless customer experience. Initiate thorough training for each new hire that includes a detailed overview of company products, services, warranties, return policies, and shipping procedures. You should also consider administering a written test to service agents before they are permitted to take customer calls to confirm they have a working knowledge of your business and can adequately address product or service related questions and complaints. To keep quality customer service at the forefront of your company culture, institute continuing education in the form of product updates and refresher training courses. When it comes to establishing outstanding customer service skills, knowledge is power, so give your chat agents the tools and support to succeed.

While marketing and new customer acquisition strategies are important ways to grow your business, the fact remains that you’re about 50 percent more likely to sell to an existing customer than a fresh prospect. And one of the most reliable ways to retain established consumers while converting new ones is to offer an unparalleled customer experience. Your call center agents are the front line of your company, so it’s essential to provide them with the fundamental communication skills they need to resolve problems and handle complaints. By teaching your team to empathize, employ active listening, and demonstrate product and service knowledge on every call, they’ll be providing the quality customer service that is the lifeblood of your company.

With over 20 years of experience in providing superior outsourcing solutions across a wide range of industries, Etech is a world leader in helping companies develop a seamless customer service experience that allows you to compete in a diverse and globalized marketplace. Contact us today to learn how we can help you develop a customized consumer satisfaction strategy.

This blog was published on LinkedIn.