Customer service goes way beyond answering the phones and listening to consumer complaints. In fact, the communication channels have expanded to include email, social media, and live chats. Customers are looking for the fastest resolution to their concern, and technology has made it possible for them to lodge complaints in a number of areas. How a company responds to areas of customer dissatisfaction deals with more than the actual solution. For many companies, it is the encounter with the agents themselves that lays the foundation for consumer opinions. If you choose to keep your customer service experiences in-house or outsource your service since legit, off-shore customer service companies exist around the globe, creating the right initial-point of contact is the best approach for long-term satisfaction.
Soft and Hard Skills for Quality Agents
As a customer service agent engages with the consumer, there are multiple areas of communication, delivery, and task completion that create the encounter. When working with phone support roles, being able to relay empathy, understanding the customer’s emotional state, clear communication, and conveying friendliness are important. However, it is much harder to recognize the emotional message conveyed when a customer is using written communication to contact customer service. As mediums of communication will continue to change with technology, these are areas of concern for those in customer service positions. For those who work with consumers in a support system, technical ability shouldn’t be the primary qualification. Real customer service skills are shown in a natural response to these more difficult areas of communication channels where the customer is more likely to be retained or pushed away.
1. The Power of the Smile
Everyone has heard that it takes more muscles to make a frown than it does to smile, and given the effortless nature of smiling, why does it seem that it is so difficult to do when engaged in a phone conversation? Wearing a smile during your conversation can translate genuine friendliness during the exchange. Whether face-to-face or over remote conversations, wear a smile when answering questions or sharing information that can help resolve the situation.
2. Adopt the Tone
If you are able to mirror the tone and language of the customer, you can begin to create a connection. However, this technique shouldn’t be used when the customer is frustrated or angry. You may raise the tone of your voice slightly and then bring it back down as you continue the conversation with confidence and reason. Your customer may respond better knowing that their concern is being heard and action is being taken.
3. Ears Open, Mouth Shut
Part of the overall frustration in customer service situations is that the customer feels ignored or neglected. Always take the time to listen to the problem in its entirety, as this allows them to exhale, calm down and be more prepared to listen. Empathy in these situations will help restore a connection with the consumer, and it can calm them down to a place where they are willing to engage in the resolution process.
4. Validate the Customer
When the customer can hear the empathy you are relaying toward the situation, they feel validated. It can help smooth over the situation and dissolve the customer’s anger. Customer service that can quickly and emphatically pinpoint the customer’s problem reflects on the overall reputation of the company.
5. Proactively Communicate
After you have listened to the problem, proactively address what you will be doing to achieve resolution. Summarize your understanding of the problem and ways you can help. If you need to put a customer on hold, be honest about the time you need to spend and communicate your plan to check in as you work on the account. The more you are able to address a customer’s concerns and hesitancy about the situation, the better your relationship with them will become.
These are five easy ways to improve your phone contact with customers who are lodging a complaint or voicing a concern. Remembering the impact you can have on the situation may help keep your focus as you work to provide resolution.
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