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How do I become a better customer service agent?

Customer service can make or break your relationship with a customer and that’s why it’s so important for employees to be properly equipped.

The following tips are designed to help customer service representatives, customer service management, and operations staff collectively improve the Customer Experience (CX). 

How management can support customer service teams

When it comes to customer service, the frontline workers can only do so much without the right support from their management. To motivate their team, customer service managers should actively seek new strategies, from customer service books and real-time customer feedback

Along with educating themselves, there are several things leaders can do to empower their customer service reps and set them up for success: 

  • Provide regular training sessions. 
  • Communicate expectations clearly.
  • Create a culture of excellence and actively demonstrate it. 
  • Set up a process for handling escalating situations.
  • Align all touchpoints in the customer journey. 
  • Invest in helpful tools, automation, and software to streamline processes.
  • Ask for customer feedback regularly and analyse the results.

If you’re a customer service agent and you need more help from your management, let them know what would be helpful. Sometimes it can be easy for management to become distanced from the customer service frontline so discuss the realities of the job and how you could be better equipped to serve customers. 

Tips to improve your customer service 

If you deal with customers frequently, there are a number of strategies and tips to use that can improve your performance. To create a better Customer Experience and enhance the company culture, here’s what you can do: 

1. Actively listen

When customers reach out to you for service, they’ll generally have a problem, request, or question you need to resolve. While it may be instinctive to launch into action, the first thing to do is stop and actually listen to them. Customers expect your service to be genuine and supportive, so don’t rush this step because it can be the difference between them staying or leaving. 

Active listening requires patience and practice. You need to learn how to pay attention to what customers say, without projecting your own meaning or agenda onto it. When they have finished speaking, you can ask clarifying questions to make sure you’ve understood them. This gives you all the information you need to take the appropriate action and resolve their requests more efficiently. 

2. Develop empathy for customers

Understanding your customers and having compassion for their situation is a crucial aspect of customer service. To work with customers, you need to have an empathetic approach to their needs, seeking to support them and find the most helpful solution. 

While it does come naturally to some people, empathy can be a learned skill. To practice it, imagine yourself in the other person’s circumstances and consider what they might be feeling and thinking. The more receptive you are to these things, the more likely you can connect with them and foster an ongoing relationship.   

3. Improve your communication

When communicating with customers, there are a few core principles to follow. Firstly, you need to remember that customers are real people, so you need to speak to them in a personalised manner. Wherever possible, we recommend using the customer’s name.  

Good communication is: 

  • Direct,
  • Clear,
  • Concise,
  • Friendly,
  • Respectful,
  • And calm.  

It’s also critical to communicate how long it will be for the customer to get what they need. For example, if there are delays or unexpected complications with your services, let them know the estimated wait time. Managing expectations can be the key to ensuring people aren’t disappointed.

4. Use constructive language

When speaking with customers, it’s best practice to phrase things in a constructive way. While you might be discussing a problem or frustration the customer has encountered, positive language can help to reduce the stress and tension surrounding the situation. 

Instead of using negative words like ‘don’t’ and ‘can’t’, use phrases that show how proactive and supportive you are. For example, if a customer complains that a product is not doing what they hoped it would, you can recommend another product that is a better fit for their needs. This way, customers feel heard and are prompted to take the suggested action.  

5. Learn about your products and services

If your customers are frequently asking about your products and services, it will be worth taking the time to learn more about them. You should know what your company offers so that when customers reach out, you can immediately provide value. 

While there will inevitably be some questions you don’t know the answer to, you should at least know the basics and have personal experience using the products and services. This way, you can help to troubleshoot issues and direct people to the right solution without hesitation. 

6. Be proactive 

The more focused you are on finding solutions to customer problems, the more likely they are to trust you with the situation. For your customer's sake as well as yours, it should be your priority to find an effective solution quickly. 

This will put the customer in a good frame of mind and demonstrate how supportive you are. In most situations, it will be helpful to discuss options with the customer, listing possible solutions for them to explore. This way, customers can see that you understand their concerns and can be trusted to address them. 

7. Admit mistakes

While it may not be easy, owning up to shortcomings is critical to customer service success. Whether it be a personal error or a wider company problem, take responsibility for it and be willing to correct it. 

To keep customers from turning elsewhere, accept accountability, apologise, and take the necessary steps to move forward. You aren’t expected to be perfect but you should be open to making improvements when such a situation arises. 

It’s also a good idea to communicate how you are addressing the problem and preventing it from happening again. These simple steps help to reassure the customers that you care about them and their needs. 

8. Ask for feedback

The key to improving your customer service is being receptive to what customers are saying. There’s always more to learn about customer preferences, so you need to be willing to adapt and take on new insights as you go.

Customer feedback is the best way to get in touch with customer expectations and make effective improvements. By going straight to the source, you can cut out the need for guesswork and make changes immediately. 

Both you and your management should be seeking customer feedback regularly. The best place to start is with a Customer Feedback Management tool (CFM) that allows you: 

  • Create customer feedback surveys.
  • Track survey responses.
  • Measure feedback and analyse results.
  • Organise feedback data. 
  • Set up automated workflows based on customer input.

At Review Tui, our software is designed to make customer feedback as intuitive and helpful as possible. Download our guide below or sign up for the 2022 launch where you’ll get expert advice, specialised tools, and action points to follow to harness your customer's insights.

Download our free customer feedback strategy guide