There’s an old saying “There is only one boss, The CUSTOMER”. Keeping the boss happy by proving the right Customer service is a tough ask. Nearly 50% of all modern-day consumers accept that they had higher customer service expectations from their service providers than what they had just a year ago.
With this elevated expectation of getting priority services, it is not surprising to see customers complaining and making angry phone calls whenever a product or service doesn’t turn out to be what they had in mind.
Now, what happens when an angry customer calls, all those expectations, and anger finally boils down and comes out on the Customer service representatives serving these customers. Many times, these reps find themselves in a situation where they have to handle customers’ anger while keeping themselves calm.
This may look easier said than done, however, with the right skills, you can not only keep yourselves calm and handle the customer and situation but in turn, change the customer perspective altogether.
Let’s look at a few essential customer service skillsthat can help you excel in providing quality customer service:
There’s a difference hey between listening and hearing. As said by Peter Drucker, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said”. You must listen more than speak.
When you’re talking with an unhappy customer, it is likely that you end up talking too much in order to respond to customer queries. However, if you talk too much, you don’t give a chance to the customer to voice out what they’re actually trying to say. The customer may feel ignored which will add to the frustration.
Active listening not only allows you to understand the customer, but it also makes the customer feel appreciated as you listen to everything they have to say before you jump on to giving a solution (or advice) to their problem.
For example, if you’re a customer service representative for a product and the customer calls with some concern, they may not be able to explain their issue in the first attempt itself as they may not know the product that well. If you listen carefully to what the customer is trying to explain, you’ll be able to solve the issue much faster than trying to give solutions after every sentence.
One of the most important reasons why customers decide to switch to a different product or service is when they feel unappreciated. Active listening shows you care and you’re taking time to understand their concern.
One of the most common and popular things that businesses across the world use these days is “Automated Speech Directories” OR AI Bots. These are pre-recorded responses that are given based on customer choices within company IVR.
But Since these are machines, they don’t have compassion. They’re not human. Customers can’t relate with them based on their responses. Empathy on calls shows the customer that there is someone who understands their frustration.
Studies have shown that empathy helps you create an emotional bridge that promotes prosocial behavior. This also is one of the primary reasons why few of the biggest brands in the world include empathy as a part of their staff training.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to focus on the emotions and feelings of your customers. The ability to understand how they feel instead of taking them literally. When you listen to the customer actively and try to understand their frustration, you will not only be able to provide a better service but connect with them in a way that makes them feel valued.
Think of it this way, if you’re boss OR manager gives you feedback for non-performance in a patronizing way, how would you feel? Instead, if he connects with you emotionally and makes you understand why you’re not performing and what you can do to improve, you will not only feel appreciated, but you’ll put your best effort to perform.
Customer service is a tough job. It requires a lot of patience to listen to angry and frustrated customers for hours and hours every day. Plus, customer service reps have their own targets they need to meet. If you spend too much time handling one query, you might end up rushing on the other.
It’s like a two-sided sword, you spend too much time, you can be taken as slow and not knowledgeable and if you rush it too much, you can be taken as rude and not co-operative.
Patience becomes even more important if your job involves giving instructions over the phone (Technical Support etc.). You need to be patient with the customer while giving them any instructions as they may not get it right in the first go. A combination of active listening, empathy, and patience will help you deliver a WOW experience for the customer.
There is a very thin line between being assertive and being dominant.
Assertiveness is what you’ll need to excel in your job as a customer service rep. Many times, there are situations where a customer’s demands may not be in line with the companies’ policies and you’re in no position to make any discounts. You need to be assertive (and show empathy at the same time) while informing the same to customer.
This creates a positive image in the customer’s mind that You as an individual and companies’ representative understand their situation and demand, but since what they’re asking for is not right, it cannot be done.
As mentioned earlier, Customer Service is a tough job. And unfortunately, this job requires you to deal with unhappy customers.
As per studies, nearly 40% of customers have agreed to lose their calm while talking to customer service. Being on the receiving end of this anger and frustration can be tough. Customers can yell at you, can become abusive, and can even threaten in some worst-case scenarios.
So, in order to deal with these situations, being thick skin is essential. You can’t yell back or hang upon them. So, you must have a thick skin and learn to let all that go and move on. Just know that you did the best you could to help the customer.
It’s not always going to go your way. There can be situations when things will go wrong. And then you need to decide what to do: run away from the situation and defer the blame on someone else OR accept your mistake and take responsibility to never repeat that mistake.
In most cases, employees don’t own up to their mistakes and most often that’s due to the fear of losing the job. If you take responsibility for your mistake and show the organization that you’re someone who will take accountability and will never repeat the mistake, you’re the right fit for any organization.
This becomes even more important while dealing with customers. If you end up giving some wrong information to a customer and the customer calls back, you must take full responsibility and go above and beyond to help them resolve their issue.
By now, you must have understood that customer service is not just answering phone calls. It’s your responsibility to manage the customer experience and show that you (and your organization) cares about its customers.