6 Things that outstanding customer support agents do differently

OABPO Blog Team Published on August 18, 2014

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What are the telltale signs of employees who don’t just fulfill their functions but work with a sincere purpose of pleasing customers? The standards may vary from industry to industry, but in every company’s customer service unit (regardless of the trade it belongs to), there are certain practices that can definitely tell if your people value your customers with sincerity. If you’re outsourcing customer support, make sure that you encourage your agents to do the following:

1. Don’t just let customers talk; listen to them.

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Listening to customers attentively is one of the most important customer service addage that many representatives claim to put into practice. They, however, don’t always do it right. Letting customers air out their complaint is one thing; actually hearing them out is another. There are needs, frustrations, and demands that people don’t always voice out but can be spotted in their actions (or in the call center’s case, context clues, word choice, and speaking patterns).

2. Don’t just identify needs; anticipate them.

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Why do customer service representatives (CSRs) need to have sharp listening skills? It’s because they need it in spotting demands of a customer before he could even put those into words or even realize what he truly needs. Listening enables CSRs to anticipate needs based on clues that people say or based on the customer’s history of use/consumption. For example, if a caller is complaining about your service bundle’s steep rate, an outstanding CSR will offer a more affordable single-service plan after seeing that the subscriber only uses one service out of the multiple-service plan he’s currently subscribed to.

3. Don’t just keep composure; stay in control of the situation.

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CSRs are obviously discouraged from snapping at irrational customers, but this doesn’t mean that you should let irate callers verbally abuse your agents. More than just keeping composure, your staff must be trained to handle themselves, the customer, and the whole situation well. They should also be prepared should situations go awry. There are appropriate actions for every type of angry customer, so your team should know the right things to say, when to escalate a call, or when to hang up to give way to more important cases.

4. Don’t just explain; help customers understand.

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Business transparency goes a long way. If applied as a customer service principle, it can go as far as saving your brand from potential public disgrace. When you explain to customers why you increased fees or why a connection was interrupted, they won’t have to seek answers elsewhere. And when you make them understand the reason behind the actions, people are less likely to resort to social media shaming because they know that the temporary “setbacks” are for the betterment of your services.

5. Don’t just say yes; be rational.

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While the “yes” attitude is highly encouraged in the customer service trade, wise CSRs should only use this sparingly. Going through great heights just to please people is admirable, but agents should question first if they could truly deliver what they promise. Otherwise, they might end up disappointing the customer and giving your brand a bad image. Now, should you really promise a five-minute delivery when you know for a fact that the customer is 40 minutes away?

6. Don’t just solve problems; make sure they won’t recur.

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The true essence of customer service transcends the exact duration of a call between a representative and a customer. After fixing the issue, outstanding CSRs go the extra mile by checking with the customer from time to time, making sure that the solutions do work so that customers won’t be inconvenienced by experiencing the same problem or its aftereffects.

What we listed here are typical actions that should be accomplished by any CSR, but what can make your people outstanding is if they see the next step ahead of the common actions that are expected of them. Do you see these signs of excellence in your CSRs?

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