The agents you have answering the phones in your inbound call center must be well-trained and well-equipped to address any and every inquiry a customer might present to them. Here are 10 of the most important skills they need to cultivate to excel at customer service.
When customers call with a problem, quite often part of the reason they are experiencing a problem is that there is something about the product or service that they don’t understand. For this reason, it may take them a minute to explain the reason for their call and what exactly they need from the agent; the agent must be patient and allow the customer this space. In addition, agents will likely be met with impatient customers from time to time and they need to be careful not to be impatient back.
A lot of customers who call inbound call centers about an issue they are having with a product are going to be frustrated, impatient or stressed on the phone. It is critical that the agent is empathetic to these feelings while also assuming a position of objectivity and authority from which they can resolve the issue.
Maintaining reasonable wait times is incredibly important to achieving customer satisfaction, and one way to support this goal is by encouraging efficiency in agents. They must be efficient during calls, reaching a resolution as quickly as possible without rushing or confusing the customer, as well as being efficient with any internal tasks they are responsible for between calls so they can get back on the phones as quickly as possible.
- Active Listening
As mentioned above, the customer may not have the right words or knowledge to exactly describe the problem they are experiencing. It is up to the agent to listen attentively when the customer is speaking in order to deduce the best course of action forward.
- Problem Solving
Once that optimal course of action has been determined, the agent may need to employ some creative problem-solving skills. This may not always be the case, as there are likely some simple tasks and inquiries they may be presented with that have simple and straightforward solutions. But if this is not the case then it is up to the agent to figure out a path to a resolution that is acceptable to the customer.
Working in an inbound call center can sometimes be a thankless job. At one time or another, agents will likely be presented with complaints that have little or nothing to do with them, but since they are the person the customer is able to reach they are the ones who are faced with the brunt of the frustration and exasperation. For this reason, resiliency is a key skill agents must cultivate. Every customer is different and the last call of the day deserves to be approached with the positivity and enthusiasm of the first.
- Product Knowledge
This may be an obvious one, but agents must have a thorough knowledge of the products or services offered by the company. The extent of this knowledge will determine the strength of their ability to solve the problems they are faced with.
- Clear Communicator
At its core, working in customer service in an inbound call center is about talking to people and it is crucial that they are able to do so clearly. Whether it’s explaining a process to a customer that they don’t understand, detailing the steps they need to take to solve their problem or informing them of the internal actions that need to happen to resolve their inquiry, being able to do all of these things clearly is super important to an agent’s success.
While much of an agent’s job happens in the moment on the phone with the customer, there may be some opportunities for them to be proactive in order to prevent repeat callers. This might involve following up with customers to ensure satisfaction and offer additional resources or simply to inform them at a predetermined time that their inquiry is still being processed so that they don’t feel forgotten.
There are few things more frustrating for callers to an inbound call center than being told conflicting information by different people. One of the easiest ways to prevent this problem is to encourage a policy of total honesty among agents. There may be times that this results in them having to deliver news that isn’t what the customer wants to hear, but it will always mean that the customer is well informed and that much more likely to become a repeat customer.
One thing that will help your customer service agents cultivate all these skills is to provide them with an easy-to-use call center platform, like CallShaper, to work in. To schedule a demo, contact us today.