Customer service reps solve problems.
This statement is also the bane of the service industry and its discipline.
With the growing emphasis on building a customer centric culture, it has become imperative that every process starts and ends with customer satisfaction in mind. It’s a culture, not an event. An ideology, rather than an isolated action. That said, it’s time that front-line service reps also take on customer success in their stride.
Service reps need to have a wide variety of skills to be able to satisfy today’s customer. Training should go beyond product knowledge and old school canned responses.
Here’s a look at five things that you can do to make your reps even more effective.
1. Give reps a lesson in consumer psychology.
Most business owners jump to product training straightaway, followed by teaching standard canned responses. Spending a few hours educating your team on how consumers think could be a game changer.
Consumer psychology is dedicated to understanding what goes on in a customer’s mind. Isn’t it grand if your reps knew a thing or two about that! Here are four fundamental customer traits your reps should be aware of:
If given a choice, a client will choose the easier way. So, do not make them fill out a form, do it for them. Do it for them the next time around too. Make processes easy. The less effort, the happier they are.
Customers need it now. Not necessarily the solution, but reassurance does equally well. Do not tell them you will come back with a solution; rather, quickly walk them through the steps you will take to correct the problem.
Customers want a story to tell. People love sharing happy stories on social media. Give them something to remember. For example, if a customer makes a great product improvement suggestion, then give them a free incentive.
Loyal customers will overlook pricing. Do not be so quick to give a discount for every problem you cannot solve. Price might not be all that important for someone who has been a long-time customer.
2. Teach reps to read a customer’s emotional state.
It is very important that service reps have the basic skills required to read a customer’s current emotional state, and respond accordingly. Handbooks are no good! It is definitely better than losing a customer due to miscommunication, or confusion created by canned responses.
Reps should be able to read the current mood of the customer. For example, an infuriated customer is not going to be happy with “Please hold for 30 seconds”. What’s better? “Please hold while I address this with the product manager, and he will be able to help us with a solution.”
They should be able to judge the patience level of the customer. For example, if a customer has called up after having sent a couple of emails already, the rep should be ready to take some dirt with a smile on their face. Teach these skills by using role-play that involves new reps taking mock calls with seasoned reps who already know the skill.
3. Teach reps to empathize.
Most businesses fail to recognize the importance of empathy in customer support success. Empathy in customer service is the ability to hypothetically put oneself in the customer’s position.
Empathy is important in order to communicate effectively, build relationships, and foster trust with customers. When a customer feels understood and cared about, they are better prepared to work with your company in the long haul. The following training activities can be implemented to develop a rep’s empathy skills:
role-play to help reps understand what makes a person angry,
training exercises to help identify tone, and eventually use rapport building phrases,
training exercises to identify suitable empathetic questions in order to gather the information required, and
an empathic buddy system; when an agent pairs up with another agent, and they give each other honest feedback.
Let’s look at a real-life example:
Customer: “I am frustrated trying to get this to work.”
Rep Response (Canned): “I will get this sorted for you.”
Rep Response (Empathetic): “I can understand that this must be frustrating for you. I am sorry that you had to waste time trying to figure it out. I will help you sort this out, and ensure you do not end up in this situation again. Has everything else been working fine?”
4. Teach reps the art of persuasion.
The customer is not always complaining, they might just be curious about your product or service. A rep should be able to create a compelling case for your product, and not let the customer slip.
It is important that a rep is able to find common ground with customers. The best way to do this is through language and delivery. The better a customer-facing employee is at using persuasive language, the more likely they will gain the desired behavior from the customer. Accomplish this by:
Using good old elocution and even hold elocution competitions for your reps
Teaching them a bunch of persuasive words and phrases
Having them watch persuasive ads
Here’s an example:
Customer: “I received a newsletter saying you guys launch a new app in June.”
Bad response: “Yes, we will let you know when we’re live. Would you like to try?”
Great response: “Yes. We’re running a pilot next month, and would love to have a few customers review it. Would you like to participate? We’d love to hear any suggestions, or feedback. You get a month of free usage as a gift from us! It’s a great app, am sure that you’ll love it.”
5. Teach the art of making customers feel important.
Your customer service reps need to think beyond solving problems. More often than not, they are under the impression that solving a problem is all they’re required to do.
Making customers feel important is a tremendous step in building customer loyalty. Each individual is different, but there are specific tactics you can use to make customers feel important every time they interact with your brand.
Know of their previous interactions. By using an integrated CRM tool, a telephone rep should be able to quote the problem a customer posted on Twitter.
Treat each customer as your best customer. Even the ones who are using your free plan deserve as much attention as any paying customer.
Resolve issues immediately. Drop everything else, and start working on a resolution. Never say, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Anticipate their needs. Every rep should have access to a central knowledge base that records all previous interactions. They should know that Mr. James asks for a top-up every time he hits 90% of allowed usage.
Follow through on customer suggestions. Do not say thank you and forget. Tell them that the product managers loved the suggestion.
Solving problems alone will not keep you ahead of the pack.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Harsh Vardhan is the Head of Marketing at Hiver, formerly GrexIt, an app the lets you share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. He’s an avid reader, a backpacker, and a rock music aficionado. Connect with @harshvgehlot and @hiverhq on Twitter.
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