Five Essential Skills of Top Customer Service Reps

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Challenges and Priorities Survey

According to Bain & Company, organizations that excel at customer experience grow revenues 4%-8% above the rest of the market. Often, companies don’t understand how customer experience and customer service differ or how they can work together to improve brand loyalty and customer service metrics. Short-term customer service interactions comprise one of the building blocks of long-term customer experience. But customer service will continue to be an integral part of a much broader and strategic practice of customer experience.

In its simplest terms, customer experience is strategic—a holistic view that connects all the dots of each event. It dives deeply into solving the root cause of an issue, bridges organizational silos and helps to drive clearer business strategies. Look across the customer experience from the customers’ perspective and across all touchpoints. It’s a smarter way to do business.

Customer service solves immediate issues, questions or queries at a particular moment in time. For the most part, these are one-time, transaction-driven events—and they’re often triggered by experiences that should run smoothly, but don’t. A customer’s current emotional state could greatly affect how he or she responds to your customer service. These emotional responses, and memories of them, often play out in survey results. Customer service is the frontline for both your brand and your customer experience.

Customer service agents meet a variety of people who are looking for assistance from your brand. Customers can be easy to work with or they may be chatty, angry or confused. Ninety-five percent of customers tell others about a bad experience and 87% share good experiences. Talented customer service agents possess the knowledge, skill set and empathy to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one. This can affect whether the customer continues to do business with your company and, ideally, become an advocate for your brand. In fact, loyal customers are seven times more likely to test an offering, five times more likely to buy again and four times more likely to refer.

Several factors differentiate a good agent from a great agent when faced with a challenging customer. Following are five skills agents possess that contribute to happy, loyal customers.

1. Good listeners when a customer is upset or angry

Think about a recent time when you were angry about something. You might have needed someone to listen to you. We get angry because we want to rectify a perceived injustice or imbalance. Sometimes, our anger increases if we feel that we have no power to correct the imbalance. That’s why we honk our horns in traffic or become “difficult customers” ourselves. Sometimes, we simply need empathy. Great customer service reps understand that they can ease their own stress when they take the time to understand their customer through empathetic listening.

2. Ability to identify the interaction for future consideration

This follows logically from “just listen.” Many contact center systems haven’t caught up to the omnichannel story, but if their system supports it, they record the interaction details. Then, when their customer communicates again—through chat, email or any other channel—their colleagues can recognize the customer’s original journey. It’s a winning strategy when you let the customer know that you recognize the previous interactions and you’re committed to completing that journey.

3. Let customers know they’re understood

Customers, like anyone, appreciate when you acknowledge their situation and show some empathy (“Yes, I’d be upset, too…”). Great customer service reps present a path to resolution and let the customer know that they’ll be with them all along the way.

4. Follow up

When the interaction is complete, great agents follow up with an email—not a survey—that acknowledges the customer’s frustration, with thanks in advance for future feedback, whether it was negative or positive. The important thing isn’t to ask anything further of the customer. If their contact center allows it, they integrate this kind of follow-up into their customer journey—via email or the customer’s preferred digital channel. If the systems aren’t unified and it’s difficult to bridge between voice and email, these agents find a way to do it anyway.

5. Remain positive and talk with their teams

It’s important to find ways to encourage an organization to be customer-centric and put customer experience at the top of the business strategy. Great customer service reps build up their colleagues with stories of how they’ve been able to turn a tough situation around into a positive. They share tips on how they’ve achieved those successes. At the end of the day, every company deserves a shot at changing to meet the shifting landscape of consumer behavior. They believe that they’re contributing to something larger than themselves.

Every industry has talented, dedicated customer service agents who are using their skills, expertise and experience to help customers by going the extra mile. Genesys helps organizations around the globe deliver the best customer and employee experiences. Its cloud technology helps organizations around the globe connect more than 70 billion customer moments each year across voice, text, messaging apps, web chat and social media. That’s why Genesys is proud to host the CX Heroes program.

CX Heroes are selected throughout the year and featured in a Genesys blog and on Genesys.com. Then, once a year, six grand prize winners are selected annually to attend Genesys customer events in the US or Europe. All grand prize winners receive airfare, hotel and registration fees for themselves and a work colleague.


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Help Genesys celebrate and share the power of amazing customer experience. Acknowledge a worthy customer service agent by nominating them to be a Genesys CX Hero.