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Nowadays, customers have high expectations of service. Aside from solutions, they also demand a friendly atmosphere. It means that your customer service representatives need both good soft skills and up-to-date knowledge of your products.

It is therefore advisable to hire customer service representatives who understand the needs of their customers, are polite, and are knowledgeable about your company’s products. If you are hiring agents, keep an eye out for these issues, or update the skills of your current employees with the latest training.

By providing unsatisfactory customer service, you may lose customers and revenue. Here are some customer service skills your representatives should possess. 

Empathy to build relationships

In the context of customer service, empathy refers to the capability of an agent to understand and relate to customers on an emotional level. Your reps can gain customer trust and make customers feel valued by showing empathy. As customer service professionals, they can demonstrate empathy by:

  • Listen attentively: Understand customer problems by listening to them openly. Be sure to reaffirm statements such as “There’s a problem with the product.”. Am I getting it right?”
  • Let customers express themselves: Avoid interrupting or talking down to angry customers. Allow them to air their frustrations. Accept their point of view and respond positively, for example, “Yes, I completely agree with you” or “I understand your position.”
  • Respect your customers: Show them that you value and respect them. Using phrases such as “Thank you for contacting us” and “Thank you for your time” is a nice way of showing them you value them.

Deliver a positive customer experience

If you want to deliver a positive customer experience, your customer service representative must speak clearly and listen patiently. Take a look at the following suggestions:

  • Engagement and participation: Engage in active communication with customers. Your customer service representative needs to ensure the customer feels understood. Ask your employees to talk it out with customers, and not just hand them default solutions. For example, when a customer complains of a faulty product, give them options to try out instead of sending someone as soon as the complaint arrives. 
  • Build rapport: Ask customer-focused questions to find out their needs or motivations. If you are a travel agency, have a meaningful and positive conversation. For instance, “Why not start sightseeing the day before?” instead of “Sorry, we don’t have any tickets for that date.”
  • Customer understanding: Provide useful recommendations to resolve problems, particularly if a client cannot pick their first pick. For example, consider saying, “This model is available in stock. Compared to the last, this one will suit your needs”, rather than saying, “Sorry! It’s not available at the moment.”

In-depth product knowledge

Along with strong interpersonal skills, employees need to have a firm grasp of the products you offer. The representative won’t be able to cater to your customer’s needs if they don’t possess expertise in the topic. Customer service skills are typically acquired through practice. You can help your agents to acquire product knowledge by 

  • Providing customer service teams with product demos. It is only when your customer service agents understand your products that they will be able to answer the questions customers may have. Get your customer service team acquainted with your products by having dedicated demos. 
  • Train your staff regularly about your products. Make sure your customer service representatives receive specialized training to better serve your customers. Have frequent refreshers and training assessments to ensure they’re updated about any changes or updates.

Problem-solving skills

It is your agents’ responsibility to solve your customers’ problems on time. Make sure your agents don’t give up until their problems are resolved. In addition, they should be capable of dealing with customer complaints independently without involving senior staff.

Look for these traits when hiring a customer service representative:

  • Adaptability: Customer service representatives must be able to adapt to unique situations innovatively. The customer service department should also be equipped to handle any issue that does not have a standard procedure for resolution.
  • Critical thinking: Your customer service agents need to find out the reason why your customers are unhappy. Furthermore, they need to be able to think critically about any related issues that may arise and offer solutions for them.

The ability to solve problems and have an ownership mindset is inherent skills that can be developed with patience and care. Encourage your employees to go the extra mile for your customers by setting up a reward structure.

Final thoughts

In addition to training your employees in the above skills, keep a centralized database of all customer information by investing in smart tools. You will then have control over all the information related to your customers. For training your employees as well as customers, you can use learning management systems (LMS) such as Litmos, Accord software, Blackbaud, and many more. Make sure to research before you choose the platform for learning. Combining the training with the management tool will help you offer the highest quality of service to your customers.