No one ever said that working in a forward-facing customer service role was easy. However, it’s crucial that the people filling these roles have a passion for helping people and possess the skills and personality traits to keep customers happy. Otherwise, you risk alienating customers when they receive poor service. In this era, when anyone can leave an online review, the aftermath of a negative encounter could haunt your business for a long time.
Top Three Traits Every Customer Service Representative Should Have
It might surprise you to learn that the three characteristics at the top of the list for ideal customer service performance have nothing to do with selling a product. That’s because the conversation won’t even get that far if the customer feels that your employee doesn’t really care about helping them. Someone who comes across as authentic to customers typically possesses these traits:
Strong listening skills
No one can give great customer services when they are thinking about or attending to other things. The person speaking to a customer directly or over the phone must give his or her full attention to the customer. This includes confirming what the customer said as well as what he or she implied. Paraphrasing back to the customer to ensure understanding is a great move.
People who contact customer service departments have a problem. That means they are often going to feel frustrated and may not come across as pleasant during an initial interaction. Taking the time to listen to the frustration and apologize, regardless of how it happened, can go a long way toward earning customer trust. The representative also needs to have the patience to explain the same information multiple times in a variety of ways depending on customer learning style.
Strong communication skills
When you consider the different cultures, educational backgrounds, income levels, and other demographic differences between customers, it’s easy to see how misunderstandings happen. It’s up to the customer service representative to explain what he or she intends to do and leave no room for error. One way to ensure understanding is to simply ask if the customer understands and agrees to the actions the customer service representative is about to take.
Two Hard Skills Shared by the Best Customer Service Representatives
The above represent what are known as “soft skills” in the business world. That means it isn’t always possible to teach them to someone because they tend to come more from personality traits than anything else. Hard skills, on the other hand, include technical knowledge that a customer service manager should be able to teach to new employees. Product knowledge is a typical example of a hard skill. Any customer service representative in a forward-facing position should know everything there is to know about a product so they can answer whatever questions a customer throws at them.
Another is the ability to know when the customer’s issue is over the representative’s head and that he or she must delegate it without adding to the customer’s frustration. This can be a fine line to walk, but experienced managers can use their own experience to teach new representatives to recognize when to escalate and when to handle the problem themselves.
Does Your Company’s Customer Service Need a Boost?
No matter how hard your employees work to keep customers happy, any business could benefit from improving its service to customers. The staff at Rickhoff & Associates are ready to step in as trusted business advisors to help your business grow in multiple areas. We have industry-specific knowledge in several areas, which means we can create a truly customized plan for business growth. Please contact your nearest office today to learn more.