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Communication with customers: what specific skills your agents should utilize on each support channel

Andrej Csizmadia

Andrej Csizmadia

May 12, 2020
Last modified on July 7, 2021 at 2:21 pm

What are the skills that make your customer service team stand out? We know that each member of your team is unique and that each has their own skillset, talents, and ways of doing things. However, you need to be aware of the fact that some skills are more useful than others. This means that one agent may be more effective in supporting your clients via live chat, while another will do a better job of answering calls from unhappy customers.

It’s not enough for your team members to only know how to answer the phone or write emails. Great customer service is much more than just responding to social media comments or picking up the phone every time it rings. There are other must-have skills and traits such as empathy, being approachable, or the ability to “read” emotions that all agents should have. However, the reality is that few service agents have or use these skills when interacting with customers.

The result? Customer service teams that are as cold as ice and conversations with customers that are so unemotional that they don’t provide any value for either party.

So what are the crucial customer service skills that your team should have? Keep reading! In this article we’ll talk about the customer service skills that each member of your department should have, depending on the communication channel they support. As a result,  you can decide which set of skills your teams should develop and improve during training and coaching sessions to better the overall service offered by your company.

Essential telephone customer service skills

Have you ever called a company’s customer service department and felt that they were smiling while talking to you? If you’ve had that impression before, then we’re sure that indeed, they were smiling. Telephone support is much more than just answering calls; it’s an area where emotions play a fundamental role. When a client calls with a serious problem, and a customer service representative uses the right tone of voice when speaking,  and is empathetic, the customer will be satisfied even if they are not provided with an immediate solution to their issue.

Communication with customers: what specific skills your agents should utilize on each support channel

Below are some of the key skills that telephone support agents should have:

Smiling while on the phone: A smile can really be transmitted during a call. When an agent smiles, their voice sounds much more friendly and empathetic.

Mirroring: A phone agent must adjust to the customer’s way of communicating. To put it simply, customer service reps should make use of the mirroring technique. This can be done by subtly imitating your customer’s speech patterns: the way they speak (strictly professional, or in a more relaxed manner, etc.), how their voice sounds, and what words they use. If a customer seems excited, your company representative should speak louder and more energetically.

Listening skills: A telephone agent must know how to listen to and understand the information provided by a client. Not paying attention to what a customer is saying during a conversation is one of the biggest sins that a customer service representative can commit.

Being sympathetic and giving the customer enough time: Customers need to know that your company recognizes their problem and understands the reason behind their call. Your representative must give the customer enough time to express themselves without being interrupted. Afterwards the agent should summarize what the customer has said to prove that they have understood the problem. A short overview not only helps agents comprehend what the issue is about but also proves that the rep really listened and can be trusted in resolving the problem.

Being honest: Honesty is always important– customers, like anyone else, hate being lied to. If there is no solution to the customer’s problem, the agent should be honest and tell them the truth. Moreover, if the client will have to wait a long time for their problem to be resolved,  they should be informed about it as soon as possible.

Skills necessary for supporting customers via email 

Communication with customers: what specific skills your agents should utilize on each support channel

Email customer support can either be a very useful or very disaster-prone channel. Some service agents make the mistake of responding to each email using automated responses or email templates filled with irrelevant content. It’s in these scenarios that email, which is seemingly important for any business, can become meaningless.

Key skills that are useful for service agents supporting clients via email:

Good writing: Can you imagine receiving an email full of spelling mistakes or random phrases that make no sense? It’s unacceptable, right? That’s why an email support rep must have excellent writing and syntactic skills as well as the ability to write clearly and concisely.

Using templates in the right way: An automatic reply is not the same as a basic standardized template, so a rep working with this communication channel must know the difference between the two and how to use them accordingly.

Personality: Messages can also reflect personality! A good email customer support agent knows how and when to add a personal touch when communicating with customers.

Skills needed to support clients via live chat 

Communication with customers: what specific skills your agents should utilize on each support channel

Supporting clients via live chat requires a mixture of skills that are needed for assisting customers over the phone and via email. One of live chat’s main qualities is the immediacy of responses, just like on the telephone, but it also requires certain writing and editing skills that are more typical for email support.

Some of the skills that live chat agents can’t be missing:

Great choice of words: Live chat is characterized by sending short, concise messages. Therefore, an agent working with this channel must be excellent at choosing the right words (and emojis!)

Multitasking: It’s necessary to possess the ability to handle several chat windows at once, and, if immediate attention cannot be provided, the agent must be able to inform the customers about approximate waiting times.

Attention to detail: Before responding, a good service agent should read a customer’s message several times to avoid possible mistakes and pitfalls in understanding and communication.

To gain a deeper understanding of professional communication via live chat, read this article. 

Necessary skills to provide great social media customer service

Communication with customers: what specific skills your agents should utilize on each support channel

Social media customer service requires a combination of all the above-mentioned skills. Social media is the type of channel that requires quick, concise and, above all, personalized responses. Therefore, if you don’t outsource social media support from an advertising agency, it’s recommended to assign tasks related to supporting customers via social media to the most specialized agents, or those with the most experience.

The most important skills for service agents to develop for social media support:

Recognition skills: It’s important for agents to recognize when a customer wants to interact with their company. Whether it is a Tweet,  like, or a comment, the ideal agent must be able to detect when a customer is closer to conversion than ever before and willing to engage in a conversation.

Quick reaction times: Users of various social channels know that businesses’ customer service agents are just a mobile device away. That’s why providing timely responses is a necessary skill for social media customer service agents. A customer service representative should have the ability to act quickly and react to customers’ inquiries on-the-fly. Response times should not exceed ten minutes.

Follow-up capacity: When a client contacts your company through social networks, it’s important to show them that they are being listened to and that their case is being worked on. Once resolved, it is important that the agent reaches out to the customer and informs them publicly that the problem has been solved.

Problem detector: A representative or social media manager must be able to detect messages and interactions that are only aimed at causing provocation or creating problems. As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to avoid an altercation on social media. To learn more about why you should not underestimate customer service on social media, read this article.

Ready to get started?

Are you ready to transform your company’s customer service operations? With a customer support management software like LiveAgent, you can streamline your processes and increase the quality of your customer interactions across all communication channels. 
Want to know more about LiveAgent? Click here to schedule a demo or reach out to us via live chat on our own website. We’ll answer all of your questions and prepare you to take your customer service to the next level.

Bonus tip: Access to information is key

Support agents should be savvy and able to find the information they need to provide excellent service, whether it’s in the CRM or knowledge base.

Create your own knowledge base
Andrej Csizmadia

Andrej Csizmadia

Growth Marketer

Andy is Growth Marketer at LiveAgent. Previously, he studied International Relations and Business Diplomacy and was active as a volunteer in the world's largest student run organization, AIESEC. Running, music and reading books are his favourite free-time activities.

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