When it comes to providing the best possible service to your customers, the people you hire will make all the difference. Many customer service managers make the mistake of hiring new reps without much discernment and end up with a staff that is just "doing a job" rather than serving the customers.
To ensure you get the best possible people for your customer service positions, we have five basic skills your customer service employees cannot be without.
First and foremost, customer service representatives need to be able to listen to a customer's problem, accurately assess the issue and find the best possible solution.
The ability to actively listen does not come naturally to everyone; it is important to assess this skill in a potential CSR at the initial interview to see if the person has what it takes. Good listeners typically make some of the best customer service employees because they are most likely to understand what a customer needs quickly and accurately.
In addition to good listening skills, customer service representatives must have the ability to communicate thoughts and information clearly and concisely. Customer service staff may need to communicate with customers through a variety of venues: in person, on the phone and through email or written correspondence. It is very important that the people who come in contact with your customers daily are able to convey your policies and products to customers efficiently and accurately.
Customer service representatives need to keep a lot of information in their minds – names of customers, company policies and product details. They need to remember transactions with customers to provide adequate follow-up. They also need to be able to quickly process information from other departments within the company so that they can communicate that information accurately to customers.
Clearly, strong memory retention is an important asset to any effective customer service representative.
Negotiation and Persuasion
Customer service representatives are often put in the position of needing to negotiate with customers or persuade them to accept a particular policy or purchase a product. Customer service reps use these skills to woo back disgruntled customers and convey negative information about a product that has been discontinued or a policy that cannot be bent. These individuals must be able to find a common ground with customers in sticky situations so both the company and the customer come out winners in the end.
Customers want transactions to be handled quickly and accurately, so efficiency is a must in a quality customer service representative. These are not the employees that sit back and wait for the customers to come to them; they are proactive in finding ways to raise the bar on service and anticipate customers needs so they can meet them as quickly as possible.
Customer service requires many important skills, and hiring people who already possess those skills will make your job as a service manager that much easier. By looking for these specific characteristics in your customer service representatives, you can make the entire customer experience at your business that much better.
- Meredith Estep