Lots of people rarely notice what customer service skills your support team has. They simply chose not to care and instead remember the overall impression of the contact. However, there are specific skills that make the difference between mediocre help and a great customer service that builds the loyalty of even difficult customers. So why is support important? And what qualities define a good customer service professional?
Importance of customer support
Support is a well-known term used in psychology and is interpreted as helping a person in solving their own emotional problems. But this term has long gone beyond the definition and has a much wider range of applications. In the field of IT and B2C, the concept of "support" is transformed into a full range of services provided to the end client, as well as the development and maintenance of the product being sold. This complex is a division of the company's business and is called "technical support".
Existing customers of the company seek advice or assistance in eliminating technical problems with the purchased product. The main goal of technical support is to provide qualified assistance to customers. However, the question arises: “Where should this qualification come from?”, because no one has ever heard of the recruitment of applicants for the “Support” or “Technical Support” faculty, in any educational institution.
It's a paradox, but that's the beauty of this profession. Training and developing soft skills for customer service of support specialists begins within the company. This is due to the fact that organizations do business in different industries. So, for example, technical support for an Internet provider and a mobile operator are two different specifics of the work of a support specialist. The question again arises: “So anyone can become a support employee? In a way, yes, however only the best can hone 5 star customer service skills.
List of the most sufficient support skills (hard/ soft)
So let’s think of what actual skills and qualities you need to possess to even become a customer service employee in the first place. Some of the customer service fundamentals include, but are not limited to:
This skill is important both when talking with a client and in the process of solving his problems. Maintaining a cool head and mental clarity is an indispensable skill for a support worker. The client may grumble, not understand “obvious” things, get nervous and blame the company for all the troubles. The employee is required to have complete control over emotions, courtesy and a clear desire to delve into the problem.
Moreover, impatience not only prevents you from enjoying life, but also reduces your efficiency in solving difficult problems.
Change your attitude towards such “irritants”. When your patience runs out in difficult situations with clients, remind yourself that this is just a small discomfort that will not be difficult to endure.
2. Reading between the lines
Communication skills in customer service cannot be underestimated. The client is asking a common question. For example, asks how to search the site. Good support is quick and polite. Excellent goes further: sees behind this appeal the need to move the search to a prominent place.
The employee must understand not only what the client says, but also their main goals, which often remain unspoken. The task is not easy, so the skill must be constantly developed. It all starts with the desire to delve into every detail.
3. Thorough product knowledge
The support service must know the product inside and out. Employees must understand how it works, what customers get when they use it, what causes problems and how to fix them. Only in this case, clients can count on full assistance.
Specialists who know the product better than others are more likely to receive positive feedback from customers. Informativeness and confidence in the answers may even be the first step to closing a deal. When the client sees that the clear answer cannot be provided, they immediately begin to doubt the product and the company as a whole.
4. Clear presentation of thoughts
The client conveys the essence of the problem in the best way he can, but the employee must be able to determine the "savvy" of the client in order to answer clearly and easily. This is especially true for key issues in which double wording and a large number of terms should be avoided.
The client understands a good answer the first time. If this does not happen, and you often ask yourself the question “what is not clear here?”, It means that you have something to work on.
However, in an effort to answer as clearly as possible, it is important not to cross the line. No arrogance and dismissive notes - this is not a three-year-old child in front of you. Still, a good customer service representative should be able to explain things in a simple enough way for everyone to understand.
Many experts consider the ability to put yourself in the place of the interlocutor the most important. Soft skills training for customer service would not be complete without learning to be more empathetic. An employee who is able to look at the problem through the eyes of the client and feel his emotions can really win the trust of even the most dissatisfied client.
Thoughtlessly following the instructions, on the contrary, leads to the fact that the employee loses sight of the nuances that are important for the client, without which it is impossible to provide quality support.
Communicate more with customers whose opinion differs from yours. With their help, you will learn to look at things from a different angle, which means you can better see the big picture and get more understanding about the point of view of others.
6. Time management
This skill is necessary for everyone without exception, because no one likes those who waste time. And yet, in the case of support, in addition to his time, the employee spends the time of the client, and this is already a serious problem.
On the one hand, you need to thoroughly approach every customer issue in order to provide great support, and on the other hand, you need to be effective. Therefore, it is necessary to quickly identify situations where you cannot help, and “walk the client by the hand” to specialists who can.
7. Positive thinking
Postitivity is one the most sought-after strengths in customer service.
Customer support agent does not always have the opportunity to please the client. There are things that are out of their control. Therefore, in unpleasant situations, it is important to minimize the upset of the client. Let's compare two examples:
“Answer 1: Sorry, but we will not be able to fulfill your order this week, only next week. If we start on Monday, it should be ready by Wednesday.”
“Answer 2: We will begin processing your order as early as Monday morning and complete it within two business days. Products will be shipped on Wednesday.”
Can you feel the difference? In the first option, there is a statement of facts that might just cause not the most pleasant emotions, and in the second one, the focus is on the positive aspects. Most likely, the client will agree to wait when spoken kindly to.
A wise question to always ask in customer service would be: “what skills do you offer clients?”
Excellent support is a bulwark of reliability. During working hours, when employees are always in place, they respond efficiently and quickly, they do not disappear when emergency situations arise, and they always do what they promised. The client can rely on such support.
Often it is the ability to constantly keep a high bar that distinguishes good support from first-class. Therefore, you need to regularly monitor the performance of employees and their motivation.
9. Flexibility and creativity
Sometimes there are problems, the solution of which requires deviation from the internal regulations of the company. It is good if the employee has the ability to think on the go. However, it is better to develop a system of actions in non-standard situations in advance.
Let’s say we are faced with the task of deciding what to do when a client comes up with an unfamiliar problem. Three questions will help us understand how to approach that. Creatively answering the following questions could help:
“Who?” As a customer support agent you still might need help from senior colleagues.
“What?” If solving a problem is basically beyond your power, what should you do to convey it to your colleague in the best possible way?
“How?” What type of communication will be most effective when approaching a task or a customer: tickets, email, team chat or project management system?
How to master your customer support skills?
If you have stopped improving your skills, then you are already left behind those who work on themselves every day. Find something that will motivate you to learn something new every day, be it work-related or not.
New trends appear, additional communication channels get implemented, and improved versions of the company's product are released. Support staff don't have the luxury of having customers find out about everything early and put them at a disadvantage with their questions.
In addition to professional customer service oriented skills, it is necessary to improve performance indicators: the speed of the first response, the number of responses to close, the speed of closing applications and the quality of responses.
Inspiration for work can be found all around you. Helping out a customer who is trying to figure out a problem they’ve been stuck on for a while is rewarding in itself.
Spend time regularly working on these skills and you will be surprised how quickly the level of support you provide grows. Practice makes perfect, as they say.
To make a long story short, there is no simple answer as to what makes a great customer service representative. They must possess many valuable skills like empathy, computer literacy, responsibility, creative thinking, problem-solving abilities and so much more! Soft skills customer service training is the most important though, as customer support specialists should never forget that they are dealing with real live people.
To support them in doing their best job, nurture their incentives and praise them when they perform exceptionally well, motivate them when they are down. Then as you show kindness to your employees, they will show it to the clients.