Support team management

5 Habits of the Most Successful Customer Service Agents [Infographic]

Some find working at customer support stressful, while others have cracked the tricks to scoring high in every customer interaction. It could very well be that there are innate qualities that make it easier for some people to succeed in this field.

However, in most cases success has little to do with qualities you were born with. There are certain habits that successful customer service agents do to be good at their job. There’s a lot we can all learn from them.

View this neat infographic or continue reading.

We’ve written about why some people find working at customer support stressful and how to avoid agent burnout. Now we’re focusing on the activities that will help you be a top performer in customer service.

1. Always nail First Response Times

A great proportion of success in customer service is defined by customer satisfaction. The happier your customers are, the better you have performed.

If customer satisfaction is one of your goals, then First Response Time is definitely a metric to set your sight on. Customers love fast first responses, so this is the easiest way you can deliver happiness.

As soon as you see a new ticket come in, let the customer know that their request has been noted. Even if you cannot give a full solution with the first reply, reassure to the customer that you are working on it. This simple thing will already go a long way in keeping customers satisfied.

Also, let your customer know when you will get back to them with a full solution. There is no point in letting anyone wait for a fix that you know will not arrive within the next hours or even days.

It’s OK to tell customers that the solution will take some time and that you will contact them once it is ready. Customers cannot know how much time it could take to handle their requests. It’s up to you, the customer service specialist, to know it and manage their expectations.

If you are interested in learning more about bringing your First Response Times down, read how Freshdesk decreased FRT from nearly eight hours to 58 minutes.

2. Reflect customer communication

Great customer support reps usually come with good listening skills. A lot depends on how well you understand what the customers ask for, and what they really need.

Reflective listening is a great method for making sure that you understand the thoughts and feelings of your customers. There are two great techniques you can use in almost every interaction:

  • Mirror the customers' main ideas by repeating the same keywords they used. Besides allowing you to see if you have understood the true notion of their request, this will also show the customer that you are really listening to what they are saying.
  • Paraphrase the customers' issues and feelings by reflecting what they just said in other words. For example replying “As I understand, you are upset because of the error you received when ordering a product” lets the customer know that you get what they are saying and feeling. And, again, it will help you check if you have understood them correctly.

Reflecting customer communication helps to turn a difficult conversation into an emphatic and helpful discussion. However, it’s not a strategy meant for challenging situations only. Use mirroring and paraphrasing techniques in all customer interactions and see how it increases customer satisfaction.

"Mirroring your customer’s tone lets them know you’re on their side. If a customer is formal, for example, hold back on the LOLs. If they’re more casual, relax your tone, too" advises Help Scout.

Letting customers know that you understand them and that you are doing your best to help will give them the feeling that someone is looking after them. That’s what customer care is all about.

3. Do self assessments

Have you ever looked into your communication patterns to see how they affect customer satisfaction? What makes a good customer communication and which factors result in negative ratings?

Customer satisfaction is not just influenced by what you are saying, oftentimes how you say it is just as important. You could easily diminish a positive message by using an inappropriate tone, complex vocabulary or overwhelmingly long sentences.

In our recent blog post we discussed a research conducted by P. Gloor et al., published in the Journal of Business Research. This study showed how customer support agents' self assessment helped them reduce the complexity of language in their interactions, and, thus, improve Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Routine self reflections help agents analyze their own interactions and discover areas of improvement. Moreover, by combining this with scorecard evaluations and peer feedback, you have built yourself a lovely path of self development.

Successful customer service agents know what contributes to customer satisfaction and keep metrics like NPS in sharp focus. It is, after all, one of the most important customer satisfaction metrics for most companies these days.

4. Never miss a product update

While it’s clear that top performing agents have good communication skills, this alone is not enough. We emphasize the importance of how to interact, but we should never neglect the content of the message itself.

Aim to provide 100% accurate information to the customers. It’s the one aspect of your interactions where you can score the highest with little effort.

While evaluations on the tone of voice, level of empathy and other qualities could be debatable, product knowledge is quite an objective thing to assess. Without a doubt, providing correct information is essential in customer service.

When looking at the activities of the top performers in the field, you will notice that they rarely miss a product update. Paying attention in product meetings, reading change logs and keeping an eye on the documentation and knowledge base are the key activities that help you stay on track.

If your customer service team conducts conversation reviews, make sure you have included “Product knowledge” in your rating categories. Then keep hitting 100% in it.

5. Be active in the customer service community

The last thing you’ll notice about outstanding customer service agents is that not only do they know everything that is going on in the company and with the product, they are aware of the trends in customer service, in general, too.

Customer support is a rapidly changing field. New tools, integrations and other helpful resources are created almost on a daily basis to make customer interactions more efficient. Knowing what is happening in the field will help you stay on top of the game.

Being active in the respective communities is one of the best ways to stay informed about what is going on in the customer support scene. There are meet-ups, conferences, forums and even Slack channels that bring together the experts in the field.

This kind of networks are the best places for discussing topics ranging from picking the right customer service tools to best practices on how to decline customer requests. It’s a unique opportunity to learn from others.

We at Klaus love the Support Driven community. The members of this Slack channel are an irreplaceable source of knowledge and experience in customer service.

It’s rare to find successful customer service agents who put in little or no effort to stay on top. Being successful is a combination of routine habits that help you stay focused on quality.

Most of the activities that lead to great achievements are related to being aware of and up to date with what is happening around you - with the customers, the product and the customer service field, in general.

You’ll be amazed how these simple habits will help you succeed in customer care.


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