7 Skills You Need to Be a Great Customer Service Agent
Delivering exceptional customer experiences is often a cornerstone for success. Customer-centric businesses approach customer service to make connections and build loyalty. One of the greatest assets needed to accomplish this is agents. Those with advanced customer service agent skills support your mission around service.
So, what skills are the most valuable? And how do those skills drive success?
Developing Customer Service Agent Skills Pays Off
Your company has a much better path to growth and customer retention when you upskill and support agent development. When customers have satisfying interactions, you can reap the rewards. When customers perceive service as excellent, 78 percent of them will do business with you again. Additionally, 64 percent of business leaders say customer service positively impacts growth.
So what skills are the most essential?
7 Top Customer Service Agent Skills
Building a contact center team requires agents that have diverse skill sets. You’ll want to look for these in recruiting new hires. If the person has potential, you can provide training and coaching to bring out their best. Once agents begin work, continue to provide opportunities for skill development and enhancement. You’ll be able to monitor their process through reports from your contact center software regarding their performance.
Let’s look at the skills most attractive for agents.
Effective Agents Are Problem Solvers
In most cases, customers are contacting you because they have an issue. Those can be minor or urgent. When they connect to service, they expect a fast resolution. Agents need to be investigators to discern the facts of the situation, which correlates to excellent problem-solving skills. They’ll need easy access to information about the customer, which you can provide with a CRM (customer relationship management) integration with your contact center platform.
Additionally, when trained on that product or service line, agents can resolve issues. To avoid frustration from customers and employees, you’ll want smart routing features that assign people to the right queue.
An Agent with Patience Can Deescalate Situations
Patience is another skill agents can hone. It is something you can improve upon, and it can be a calming force on angry customers. Being patient means you can listen to their concerns and respond respectfully.
Attention to Detail Is Critical for Agents
From patience, your agents can be active listeners. That skill will complement being detail-oriented. This attention is useful when trying to diagnose a root cause of an issue. It involves asking the right questions to gather all the information necessary to serve the customer most accurately.
Great Agents Are Empathetic
Another personality trait ideal for contact center agents is empathy. Having emotional intelligence when dealing with people that are less than happy means they don’t take it personally. They can understand the situation for what it is and will work to help the customer in the best way possible.
This skill may be one of the hardest to develop. It’s an emotional response to validate the customer. Your contact center leaders can work with agents on this skill with quality assurance tools in your contact center solution. You can record calls to play back in coaching.
Agents with Strong Communication Skills Have a High Value
Communication skills for agents are distinct from others. After all, agents typically do less talking or typing than customers. Being a strong communicator includes being an active listener and sticking to the situation.
Agents don’t need to be gabbers; they’re better off not being one. Communicating clearly and simply with a personable approach leads to higher customer satisfaction. They can do this by focusing on using positive language. Here’s an example:
- Without positive language: “The product you need isn’t available. It’s on back order for at least the next four weeks.”
- With positive language: “The product is available next month, and I can go ahead and place the order for you today.”
The difference is in framing the response. By taking a positive approach, your customers will feel less frustrated about a backorder.
Product and Service Knowledge Equips Agents to Become Experts
Depending on the size and complexity of your business, you may have multiple products or services. The more agents interact with these products and learn about them, the better they’ll be in customer interactions.
Ensure your agents receive training on these regularly. Special sessions will also be helpful before new releases or product launches. Agents that are curious by nature and want to learn will be excellent representatives for your company. Remember, this group has the most customer interactions, so it’s worth investing in regular training.
An Adaptable Agent Is an Able Agent
Finally, adaptability and flexibility are skills that customer service agents should possess. Contact centers are high-volume, sometimes chaotic environments. They’ll be fielding calls, chats, emails, and more on a range of issues from customers who are all different as well. Thus, being adaptable is a survival skill that the best agents will have.
As your business grows, there will be additional changes. When agents are flexible, they have a growth mindset, which means they’ll be amenable to change.
Proficiency in Customer Service Agent Skills Create Exceptional Experiences
Seeking out and continuing to develop these skills for customer service agents can be a competitive advantage. A strong customer service team is empathetic, curious, growth-minded, and patient. As a result, your customers get the best experience.
Learn more about serving customers in every channel by reading How to Deliver an Omnichannel Customer Experience.