Essential Skills of a Customer Service Representative

A skilled customer service representative is the single most important asset of a growing business. Since 71% of customers are lost due to poor customer service, you can build a loyal customer base only if your customer service center is optimized. More importantly, existing customers spend 33% more than new ones, so your priority should be retaining your current customers and increasing their lifetime value. Hence, the most cost-effective way of increasing profits is focusing on these customers through good customer service, rather than intensifying sales efforts. A whopping 80% of your future profits will come from a mere 20% of your existing customers.

Decrease your Customer Churn Rate to increase profitability

The customer service representative is the face of the company—the first point of contact that establishes your brand image. To avoid customer service fiascos in this day and age of social media, when public opinion holds a great deal of weight in determining a company’s reputation, make sure that each customer service representative at your company has some essential skills. We have collated the 10 most important ones here for you that you should look for when hiring your customer service center team.

Essential Qualities

Each customer service representative must possess these skills to be able to effectively build customer loyalty, reduce attrition, and enhance the brand image.

1. Empathy

Empathy in customer interactions can make a marked difference in customer retention rates, since 68% of customers leave when they perceive a business as indifferent to them. A good customer service representative empathizes with customers, trying to understand their problem and resolve it as quickly as possible. Being apologetic for any inconvenience caused and treating the customer in a friendly manner are cornerstones of excellent customer service.

Walk in the customer’s shoes to understand their problem(s).

2. Patience

Stay patient to truly understand what the customer wants.

Customers usually get in touch with a customer service representative when they are confused about or frustrated with the product or service. Patiently hearing out the customer helps de-escalate the situation and improve understanding of the actual issue—improving the chances that it will be resolved expediently.

3. Clear Communication

Your customer service representative should have a strong command over the language and use simple, jargon-free sentences that a layperson can understand. Moreover, the call center operator should make sure to relay all the important information, leaving nothing to doubt. This entails a balancing act between reassuring the customer and promising only what you can deliver.

Make sure that you communicate in a clear and concise manner, using layperson terms.

Strong internal communication between departments, established SOPs, good organization of information into CRMs, and timely management of ticketing systems are all crucial. An experienced 24 hour call center would take all this hassle off your hands.

4. Sufficient Knowledge Base

Know the product or service better than the customer using it

A good customer service representative has a strong grasp over the ins and outs of the products and services being offered, billing procedures, refund policies, and basic troubleshooting steps. This is the only way the customer service representative will be able to answer customer questions accurately. Having an agent passionate about your service is the best possible sales technique since they would in turn convince customers to purchase your good or service.

5. Problem-Solving Initiative

Finding a viable solution for each customer query, to ensure higher chances of resolution on first contact— a higher FCR (First Contact Resolution rate)—is an essential quality in any customer service representative. He or she should know all about your value offering and be intelligent and dedicated enough to find a solution. Additionally, the customer service representative should have enough initiative to resolve as many queries as possible himself/herself, without escalating it to upper management levels.

Take the initiative to solve problems before escalating them.

6. Strong Organizational Skills

Need for good organizational skills in customer service.

Your customer service representative should update databases on time, find relevant information for each customer quickly, and ensure that the rest of the team is aware of the progress of that customer case (by creating notes on the CRM). Work with someone who has handled a range of backend databases, CRMs, and ticketing systems, so you don’t need to start from scratch to establish your customer service center.

7. Strong Listening Ability

The customer service representative should be a very good listener—attentive to the customer’s complaint and able to read between the lines. There should be no audio distortion on the call, so the VoIP should be up to par.

This entails not only listening to the customer’s complaint or question but rather understanding the root causes. Staying attentive to and reporting underlying common issues will help improve the overall omnichannel customer experience. For instance, if customers keep calling for assistance with tracking their orders, the tracking system has not been correctly and sufficiently highlighted on your website.

Only a good listener can unearth the root causes of issues and resolve them.

8. Using Positive Language

Use positive language to communicate with customers.

The language your customer service representative uses in communication has a very strong impact on your customers, especially via non-voice support channels, since connotations may skew negative. For instance, if you are unable to deliver a package on the expected date due to logistical issues, there is a negative way of updating the customer as well as a positive way.

Negative: We are unable to deliver the package tomorrow since you placed the order too late today.

Positive: The packages for delivery tomorrow have already been dispatched today. I will mark your parcel for express delivery and make sure you can get it early morning the day after tomorrow.

Both responses are correct but the second one uses positive language, which will certainly keep the customer happy.

9. Flexibility and Omnichannel Support

Today customers look for instant gratification for all their issues. Your customer service representative should be able to handle omnichannel support inquiries, sometimes at the same time, to deliver holistic customer service to each customer. More than that, he or she should be able to make connections, come up with creative solutions, and switch between support channels to understand each customer’s history with the company. Only then can the customer support be accurate and helpful for the customer.

Need for flexibility and omnichannel support in customer service.

10. Expert Time Management:

Manage time well to provide timely and accurate customer support.

An omnichannel customer service representative needs to handle several support channels at the same time. Handling all incoming queries in a timely fashion is only possible with discipline and expert time management skills. The customer service representative should also be able to prioritize tasks and support channels, handling each inquiry efficiently and give sufficient attention to each. For instance, a call is more urgent than an email and a troubleshooting chat must be answered before one inquiring about the services you offer.

These are a few of the most important qualities that you need in each customer service representative. Concerned about how you can find such a paragon? Hire an experienced agency to handle your customer service center so you get free of the hassle of recruiting and training each customer service representative. They will already be experienced in handling similar projects, so there will be a much shorter learning curve.

Have we missed any important qualities? Feel free to let us know by commenting down below.

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