The definition of great customer experience may be evolving every day, but one point remains the same: Skilled agents are always essential. As customers continue to demand authentic and humanized experiences, every brand needs to ensure that its call center agents have the proper skills to deliver excellent service. Here are seven skills every agent, through proper training, should master for optimum customer experiences.
First and foremost, every brand should develop a customer-centric view and train its agents to do the same. This means that agents should always approach a service interaction from the customer’s point of view and take the necessary measures to do what is right for him, not just what is most convenient for the brand. For example, offering a customer a better delivery option, making a goodwill gesture after a negative experience, and generally adopting a tone that validates the customer’s feelings are all ways to convey a customer-centric attitude.
Being able to communicate well with customers is essential. Agents need to be trained in people and communication skills, to speak to customers both gently and confidently, in order to strike a balance between friendliness and a professional attitude. Working on call scripts as a department can be very helpful toward finding a common approach to speaking to customers, establishing rules for the kind of language used (for example, avoiding slang or abbreviations), and also welcoming agent input on how they can add their own personal touch to these scripts.
Being patient is essential to great service. Agents need to be good listeners in order to fully understand the situation at hand, and it’s especially important when the customer is frustrated. Taking the time to explain a solution in full is important to the customer, so agents should never rush to finish an interaction for the sake of reducing handling time. Spending a little extra time to find the best solution actually increases the chance of first contact resolution—and making the customer happy.
Agents generally do not know ahead of time how each interaction will proceed. For example, the case may end up being complex or the customer may be unhappy when he calls. For this reason, brands need to train agents in their critical thinking skills to help them deal with tense situations while also authorizing them to make gestures to appease customers. Roleplaying during training sessions can help agents develop critical thinking skills that can guide them when deciding, for example, whether to consult a colleague in a tough situation, when it may be best to switch channels for more in-depth service, or when to offer a voucher as a goodwill gesture.
Keeping agents motivated is essential to their performance. Empowering agents to do their best through regular training, mentoring, and professional development opportunities can keep them fresh and ready to perform their best. In addition, gamification can be a fun way to encourage healthy competition among peers while helping agents track their individual performance. Rewarding agents for their success through employee of the month programs is also a meaningful way to acknowledge their success and keep them motivated.
Sometimes an individual or a department may make a mistake that upsets a customer. As agents are on the front lines of customer service, it is often up to them to show accountability by apologizing, either on behalf of the brand or for their own personal error. Being accountable is essential to winning customer trust, so accepting a mistake and offering a proper solution are important to restoring confidence and winning customer loyalty.
Adapting to situations as they arise is another essential skill every agent should master. For example, when a case becomes too complex to handle on a specific channel, agents need to be quick to adapt by asking the customer to switch to a more appropriate channel. An agent may also need more time to consult or input customer data in a CRM database, or he may need to ask a colleague for further support. Knowing how and when to adapt to these situations is critical to delivering great customer service.Call center agents have demanding tasks, but proper training and ongoing support from managers and peers can ensure that they master their customer service skills with confidence.
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