Why are customer service skills important? Before asking yourself that, you should perhaps ask: what plays the most significant role in your customer’s experience?
Despite the many technological advancements in customer service—like the development of chatbots and self-servicing tools—86% of consumers would still rather interact with a real person over a robot. Plus, 71% of consumers would decrease their support for a brand if they don’t have a human customer service representative available to speak to at all.
Since the human agent is so essential to customer experience, Customer Success managers need to continuously evaluate their role in creating a positive perception of your brand in the minds of your customers. How? By asking:
What defines good customer service skills?
What are the skills for customer service that your business should look for and develop in your team?
How will these customer service skills impact and contribute to the success of your business?
How can you train these skills for customer service to deliver top-quality service?
If you’re looking for the answers to these questions, keep reading. We’ll go through these issues one by one, and tell you the 12 most important customer service skills your team needs to have to ensure amazing customer experience, increase brand loyalty, and ultimately improve customer lifetime value (LTV).
In other words, give your customer service reps these tools to succeed, and you’ll drive higher revenues for your business overall.
Why Good Customer Service Skills Drives Business Success
Many business owners mistakenly think that good customer service solely exists to solve the problems of customers. Although that is a part of what customer service does, there’s more to it than that. And considering that 95% of consumers remain loyal to a brand simply because of the service they received when dealing with them, it’s essential to ensure you’re providing an amazing customer experience for your users across all touchpoints.
In the broadest strokes, having good customer service skills means:
Swiftly and accurately resolves issues and concerns
Keeps the customer feeling valued
Delivers exceptional customer experiences
Is consistent across all channels and representatives
Defining Good Customer Service Skills
Although what defines “good” customer service may vary from business to business, there are industry standards that you can use as a benchmark. Below are 8 call center metrics that matter the most when measuring the performance of your team (which you can apply to any industry):
Average call length determines the time your team takes to resolve an issue.
Number of answered calls identifies if your service team is under or over capacity. This lets you prepare the right resources to meet customer service demand and increase efficiency in your operations.
Number of missed calls goes hand-in-hand with the number of answered calls and gives you a point of comparison to gauge answering efficiency.
Average speed of answer measures how quickly it takes an agent to answer a call and identifies bottlenecks in your service process, while providing a faster service to keep customers happy.
Median wait time gives you insight into the customer’s experience and lets you know if you are making the most of their time – something which is extremely valuable to every person!
Average amount of time to return a missed call lets you know how quickly your team can attend to the customer, even after a missed call, and indicates how efficient your CS operations are.
First-call resolution tells you how often you can resolve the customer’s needs in one call, and can indicate whether or not additional training is required to address customer concerns better.
Customer call frequency determines the accuracy of the information you provide and the ability of your team to resolve an issue effectively.
Now that you have a better grasp of what good customer service is and how to measure it, let’s talk about the customer service skills that sustain it.
Good Customer Service Skills that Make the Moment
Did you know that, for every 1 customer you satisfy, they’ll tell 4 of their friends about your great service? And for every 1 customer you alienate, they’ll tell 10 of their friends about their negative experience?
This is why it’s so important to provide consistently positive customer experiences on every channel you use to interact with your customers.
To ensure that you make the most out of every encounter with your customer, you must develop good customer service skills in your team. By doing so, you not only win the loyalty and trust of your customer, but you will also be more likely to convert them into Customer Evangelists, who staunchly advocate for your brand to their circles of friends and colleagues.
This kind of social proof is the most valuable form of marketing there is (and it’s free!), so creating incredible customer experiences can have massive ROI potential – not only by minimizing customer churn, but by attracting new customers, as well.
1. Personalize interactions
Personalizing interactions is an integral part of skills for customer service. Technology has eliminated the need for face-to-face interactions, but this also makes it easy to fall into the habit of treating the customer as another ticket to mark off or a problem to solve, rather than as a person. That is the opposite of good customer service skills!
Once customers feel like they are treated more like a number and less like an actual human being, they either leave the conversation feeling dissatisfied or, worse, lose their trust and confidence in your brand.
You can avoid falling into this trap by personalizing your interactions with them.
One way is to lead-in the call by using “I” or “you” instead of “ma’am” or “sir”. This makes the conversation feel friendlier, and also personalizes it to them as an individual.
More importantly, addressing the customer by name signals to the customer that you value them. It gives a level of intimacy and helps build the customer’s confidence, making them more actively involved in the conversation.
2. Build Connections
Building connections is essential to having good customer service skills. Conversations are more enjoyable and memorable when you establish a connection with your customer. By being relatable, your customers will be more inclined to open up and thus, be more cooperative in finding a solution to the problem. People also remember (and tell their friends about) your company when they feel they’ve been understood and served in a really friendly, personable way.
Agents with good customer service skills should engage in small talk with your customers and share a little bit about themselves. When they do this, you break the wall between customer and agent—making them more approachable. It allows the customer to feel as if they are talking to someone they know, and not just a faceless voice.
Humor is another way to be more relatable to your customer. Technology still can’t capture or replicate humor, so throwing in a joke or two also humanizes your services. Humor also helps make difficult conversations smoother to navigate. It can also act as an icebreaker when getting to know a new caller. Therefore, you should encourage a lighthearted approach when teaching good customer service skills.
3. Effective listening
Effective listening forms the basis for a lot of other good customer service skills in your agents’ toolkits. After hearing hundreds of calls a week, one problem may sound just like dozens of other complaints. And in a rush to resolve the issue, customer service representatives might misdiagnose a problem before fully understanding the caller’s request.
You can teach your representatives effective listening techniques to prevent issues like these from happening. Reinforce the habit of documenting the conversation and confirming the details of customers’ concerns to ensure clear communication.
Encourage your call center agents to listen without interrupting for the first six seconds of the call. This way, customers will feel that they are being heard and understood. Plus, customer service agents will understand the full story and attack the root cause of the issue, instead of just the superficial symptoms—making for more effective problem-solving and better overall customer service skills.
Why is empathy crucial? Empathy is crucial for building good customer service skills, because it helps your sales reps build a deeper connection with the customer. It involves sincerely understanding the customer’s problem or situation, and how it makes them feel. It also involves shifting the tone of the conversation to accommodate the emotions of the customer.
However, it’s essential to note that empathy does not mean you should solve all of the customer’s problems (like those outside the scope of your job description) or tell them what they want to hear. It’s about letting the customer know that you hear, understand, and acknowledge them.
By practicing empathy, you can accurately identify the customer’s pain points, learn how to address these the best you can, and make the customer feel valued and acknowledged. In contrast, failing to show empathy can make a customer feel like they’re talking to a robot, rather than someone who genuinely understands or cares about their problems. Again – the exact opposite of what you’d want to see in an agent with good customer service skills!
5. Conflict management
Resolving conflicts is another crucial part of having strong skills for customer service. A lot of customers are in a state of heightened emotion by the time they contact customer service. And when things get too emotional, logic often does little to help ease the conversation.
With conflict management as a part of your team’s customer service skills, however, you can deftly transform tough conversations into a positive experience for the customer.
This can be achieved by being patient, using positive language, and listening to the customer. Most importantly, customer service representatives need to be aware of their own emotions and manage them well. This helps to create a safe space for the customer. Being calm can give your customers the peace of mind and confidence they need. It is your role to prove that that you are there not to antagonize them. The role of the customer service rep is to help them solve their issues.
Every customer service call is unique, and so are the challenges that come with it. To be able to come up with various solutions to every problem, customer service agents need creativity as one of their customer service skills.
Creativity helps you understand what the customer is really saying (even if they’re not saying it explicitly), think outside the box, and see things from an objective point of view. In turn, you’ll be able to grow and solve new, complex problems.
Cultivate creativity in your customer service team by encouraging them to pursue various interests and hobbies outside of work, or even just getting up and moving around the office periodically. It’s been proven that physical activity recharges and refreshes peoples’ minds and bodies. It also lets you see things from a different view. You can also conduct creativity capacity building workshops. They will help foster creativity in your team and improve their skills for customer service. An example of this could be a design thinking seminar.
7. Rectify the issue at first contact
Good customer service skills also include being a problem-solver. Leaving the customer satisfied by the end of the call is meaningless if you don’t take the necessary action to resolve the issue. This forces the customer to call again, with a less-than-happy demeanor.
Rectifying the issue at first contact means not only determining the core of the problem, but also taking the steps to solve it. By addressing the issue ASAP, you can win the customer’s trust, increase first call resolution rates, and decrease the number of customer complaints your company receives. This is why it’s important to include fast problem resolution amongst the customer service skills you develop in your agents.
8. Be knowledgeable
If you want your agents to have overall good customer service skills, they have to be knowledgeable. Because your customer service team is in direct contact with your customer, they greatly influence the customer’s journey. They can convince customers to make the final purchasing decision and transform leads into loyal customers.
It is therefore paramount that your team knows your brand and products by heart. Train them so that they fully understand your company and the advantages of your products. Make sure that they are always up-to-date on the latest policies and releases of your products to promote stronger customer service skills.
Teach them to also know your customer inside and out by giving them the technological tools and know-how to understand customers’ behavior, preferences, pain points, and their zero moments of truth (ZMOT). By being one step ahead of the customer, you show that your company makes the extra effort to understand and anticipate their needs, and this information goes a long way towards improving the customer experience as a whole.
It’s no secret that customer service jobs involve a lot of multi-tasking, such as taking down notes, listening to the conversation, reviewing the customer’s background, and answering various messages.
However, if you think multitasking means accomplishing all these tasks at the same time, then you’re setting yourself up for a lot of mistakes and frustrations. Good customer service skills are about managing tasks intelligently, not doing them all at once.
Teach your team to effectively multi-task by creating to-do lists that clearly mark the priority level of each task, and group related tasks together (use call center metrics to determine these categories). Encourage them to review new information during their downtime and their list of tasks by the end of each day or week.
When done properly, multi-taskers can cut down on distractions, as well as know what to prioritize and where to focus their resources. As a result, they can manage time more efficiently and shorten customer call times, which is another trademark of someone with good customer service skills.
10. Follow through
Following through is another crucial part of having good customer service skills. Customer service does not end with the call or conversation—it is continuous. Following through with the customer demonstrates the extra mile that your company is willing to go to make them feel valued and satisfied.
Additionally, following through is a proactive customer service step that ensures that all the customer’s concerns have been addressed. And if they haven’t, you are at least taking a step towards resolving it.
You can do this by:
Asking for feedback,
Updating the customer on the status of their request, or
Sending a thank you message.
Having good customer service skills also means being forward-thinking. We live in a fast-paced world. To lead in this competitive business environment, you and your team must always have one eye on the future.
Create the habit of being up to date with the latest news, so your team is aware of the recent tools, technology, and schools of thought that can elevate your customer service. Make the most of your call center metrics to identify opportunities for growth or cost savings in the future.
When you and your team become forward thinkers, your customers will see and feel that you are constantly putting the time and effort in improving your services. Additionally, your team will be a step ahead of the competition and will be at the forefront of your industry when it comes to developing good customer service skills.
To promote good customer service skills, you have to constantly train and educate your team. The customer service industry is always changing. So are the practical skills and knowledge that you need to keep pace with these changes.
By regularly training and retraining, you keep your customer service team up-to-date with the latest technology and trends. This reinforces good behavior, provides support to underperforming members, and gives valuable feedback on the team’s strengths and weaknesses. You can use call center metrics to identify which areas need improvement.
Training also allows your team to upskill and cross-skill, which further strengthens their skills for customer service.
Improving Customer Service Skills Using Technology
Actively developing these twelve good customer service skills in your customer service team will create a positive impact on your customers. Additionally, their experience with your company will be improved. This gives you a good baseline to further enhance that experience by leveraging technology.
Humans may be the most important part of customer service, but technology can help strengthen and supplement their skills. Aircall‘s cloud-based phone system merges all customer data in one easy-to-use dashboard, provides analytics on key call center metrics, such as peak call times, gives insight into call performance, and generates individual feedback for your call center agents.
Aircall’s system also integrates call tracking software, provides transcripts and summarized notes from calls. Having access to this gives you actionable insights for managing your customer service call center more efficiently.
With these tools, your team can deliver above-and-beyond customer experience, predict customer reactions, have more personalized conversations, and make data-driven decisions based on call center metrics to improve your team’s customer service skills and your company’s services.
Ready to empower your customer service team with the right tools to improve customer experience? Contact us to schedule a free demo of Aircall for your business.
Published on October 5, 2023.