If customer service is a battlefield (and quite frankly, it often is) then your customer service reps are the front-line soldiers. They’re the ones out there in the trenches, fighting for your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. A tough job that not everyone is cut out for.
In fact, true customer service heroes need to possess a rather unique set of skills to be successful. So let’s look at the 8 top qualities every agent should master to help you deliver the best customer service possible.
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1. Positive attitude
A positive attitude is for a customer service rep what a solid foundation is for a building. Customers only call when something’s wrong, so chances are they’re irritated at best and beyond furious at worst (depending on their character). Either way, they’re in some state of distress.
As first point of contact, agents need to have a positive mindset. All-the-time. No matter how upset the person on the other end of the line is, your people need to be able to speak with optimism to reassure the customer.
2. Excellent communication skills
Think big here, real big. Think of communication in the broadest sense possible. Because customer service agents need to be top-notch communicators on all levels.
They need to speak clearly of course, but what’s more, they need to be excellent listeners too. Because it’s only by asking the right questions in the right way – something that may differ from one customer to another – that they’ll retrieve the information they need to identify the caller’s issue. And to eventually get to that much-desired solution.
3. Thorough product knowledge
Even the best communicating agents on the planet won’t solve a single thing if they don’t know the company’s business by heart. But getting to know the ins and outs of the products or services their organisation provides is only half of the job done.
On top of that, agents need to be familiar with the different (call and ticketing) systems they work with, specific company procedures, and a whole lot more. So above all else, customer service reps must be able to retain as much of this (product) knowledge as possible.
4. Strong multi-tasking skills
This one should speak for itself really. Imagine this: on the one hand you’ve got a yelling customer on the phone, while on the other hand, you’re trying to navigate your way through the internal systems to find a solution for the customer’s issue.
All the while you’re being your friendly self in an attempt to calm the caller down – and you even manage to ask her for specific information about the problem she encountered.
Note: To assess candidates for an agent role, you can use the multi-tasking skill test below.
In general, I think most of us could do with a tad more patience to be honest. For customer service agents however, patience levels need to be at stellar altitude.
Top agents patiently wait until customers have explained – in full – what the problem is. And they keep calm when they need to explain to a less internet-savvy caller how to open a different web browser or how to check the WiFi connection.
6. Fast pace
Customers want to be taken care off asap. They don’t like to wait around too long (actually, they don’t like to wait at all) before they get to speak to a human being. Once they’ve got an agent on the phone, they want their issue to be solved sooner rather than later.
First-class customer service reps know how to keep up the pace and stay super efficient at the same time. They work quickly, but continue to provide top-quality customer service.
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7. Creative thinking
No matter how many guidebooks or scripts you’ve provided your agents with, there are always going to be (many) unforeseen situations that haven’t been discussed in those manuals. You know, cases in which exceptions to company policies are in order. This is why customer service agents need to be creative.
They need to be able to find suitable solutions that work for the situation at hand. A tailor-made remedy to their customers’ issue if you like.
8. Stress resistant
A positive attitude, heaps of patience and great multi-tasking skills; they’re all elements of a generally stress resistant person. Being a fulltime problem solver is tougher than it seems; a burnout is one of the main reasons for agent turnover. Successful customer service agents aren’t easily flustered and stay zen under all circumstances.
Note: You can use the Harver Live Chat Support Simulation to assess candidates for customer agent roles.
Experience our best-in-class Live Chat Assessment first-hand!
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Hiring for role specific qualities
By now you might be slightly desperate as to how you’re going to find customer service employees that possess all of the above qualities – and more. Not to worry! You want to know the best part? Pretty much all of these (character) traits are measurable.
Recent developments in Psychology, IT, Statistics and AI give us the tools necessary to assess these traits automatically and with great efficiency.
People in the field of Industrial – Organisational Psychology (I-O Psychology) make it their (lifetime) occupation to investigate the relevance between individuals, businesses and society.
As you can imagine, this field of science produces many useful frameworks to use in management.
One of these useful (and most elaborate) frameworks is the HEXACO personality index. Different versions of this test exist and depending on how detailed a personality overview you want there is an edition with 60 and one with 100 questions. The latter probably instantly filters out candidates with little patience..
With the rise of the internet came the rise of the cloud. The fact that people are interconnected and able to access software (applications) from all over the world has brought endless new possibilities. HR seems to embrace cloud computing now too, given the rise of Software as a Service vendors in HR. Affordability, an easy user experience and mobile functionalities are just a few of the advantages that come with the cloud. You may or may not like it, but cloud-based HR Technology is here to stay; if you want to be future proof, you move to the cloud.
Speaking of rising, if there’s one field that has taken a massive leap over the past couple of years, it’s analytics. With the internet being available to more and more people, it didn’t take long for companies to see the value of gathering and collecting internet user data. The value of data analysis eventually became clear to HR as well; data is being used to improve recruitment, personalise employee learning and measure engagement for example.
And it doesn’t stop at data analysis. Nope, with the use of machine learning techniques we can now create algorithms that get smarter by the day. So smart even, they can make predictions about someone’s suitability for a customer service agent role for example.
Now, if you blend all these ingredients together in a single piece of software aimed at the improvement of HR processes, you can imagine the impact this can have. We are an HR Tech company ourselves and have implemented software like this for many organizations through different verticals. the result looks like this: