Top-notch listening skills
To truly help a customer in need, an agent must listen carefully and accurately understand what they’re asking. Confused customers are often frustrated and unaware of the precise issue or correct terminology to describe the problem, so a customer service agent must hear what they’re describing and interpret the meaning as needed. With experience an agent will become aware of the language customers tend to use to describe certain pieces of their product, even if the wording isn’t technically correct. An agent must develop the ability to accurately interpret customer queries, no matter the wording.
When a customer reaches out, there’s a decent chance they’re already frustrated. Whether they’re contacting your team to report a problem or ask how to perform a specific action, the customer service agent must remain patient and open to working with the customer. Patience particularly comes in handy when interacting with customers with a low level of skill in regards to the product. When a person hasn’t used your product much yet, or has a generally low computer literacy, they’ll need patience and clear guidance to be successful.
When working with customers, it’s important that an agent is able to empathize with them. Empathy is the ability to understand where a customer is coming from, and share in their feelings. If a customer service representative communicates in a way that feels dismissive or uncaring, the customer will notice and their frustration will increase. Feeling dismissed or being made to feel slow for not understanding something is a sure way for a customer’s dissatisfaction with your product or service to increase. By showing empathy, an agent can create a sense of being a part of a team working together to solve a problem, rather than acting as adversaries working against each other.
Ability to manage difficult conversations
Anyone who has worked in customer service knows not every conversation is going to go well. Many times a customer only reaches out when there is a problem. Because of this, a customer service agent must be able to handle tough conversations well. Whether they’re dealing with an angry user or have to let a customer know they can’t do what the customer wants, knowing the right words to use when trying to reassure a frustrated customer is vital. An agent must be able to remain calm to avoid being swept up into an emotional conversation and stick to providing the best customer service they can provide.
Beyond staying calm, customer service agents should also develop a plan and skills around how to say no and share bad news effectively, as well as how to handle a conversation when a customer seems intent on ranting rather than solving the problem.