How to improve your customer service skill set

Any business, that wants to be successful in the long-term, needs to have a solid focus on customer service. Poor customer service inevitably leads to a desperate struggle to attract new business, which, especially in competitive marketplaces, is a recipe for disaster.

By consistently impressing customers, the chances of generating loyal customers, and a positive reputation, are greatly boosted. Get this right and your career development and salary could be boosted too. The responsibility for this often falls on customer service workers in contact centres, who interact with the business' customers on a daily basis.

What qualities are required?

On a day-to-day basis, call centre workers find themselves interacting with numerous customers, helping them to resolve problems and answering any questions they may have. Telephone interactions are still the most common form of communication; however, email, social media and other digital channels are increasingly rising in prominence as the industries evolve to suit the needs of their customers. Customer service workers are primarily focused on helping customers get the most out of the product or service they are paying for.

Good customer service requires an ability to listen, communicate effectively and put solutions into action quickly and efficiently. The best customer service operators are also able to establish an instant rapport with customers, helping them to feel comfortable and providing them with a pleasant interaction.

Even the best call centre workers can improve their skills, however and offer an improved level of service that will boost the likelihood of repeat custom. When aiming to improve skills, the first thing to understand is that customers do not want to have their time wasted. What they want is a friendly interaction, but one that doesn't impinge on the speed of the service they receive. In addition, nothing irritates customers more than feeling that they are not being listened to.

Understanding the value of giving customers room to speak and fully explain themselves is vital in this profession.

Resolving problems

One especially difficult area, where many customer service operators fall down, is when they have to deal with irate individuals or people who are phoning to make complaints.

While it is never acceptable to tolerate abuse, having the ability to empathise with the customer's situation and clearly and calmly explain the steps that will be taken to rectify the problem, can diffuse most situations. Remaining calm and professional in these situations is a challenge, but is an important part of offering consistently good customer service.

In addition, concentrating on going the extra mile when providing customer service can make all the difference when it comes to how customers remember interactions. For example, waiting to check that the proposed solution has the desired effect when dealing with a customer who has rung a helpline, rather than offering a solution and immediately ending the interaction, can greatly improve a customer's satisfaction levels, as they can avoid wasting more time ringing back in the event that the solution is ineffective.

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