Call center agents are the direct line of response between company and client. They are the representatives of a brand or business, making them essential for any company. The impression of customer service calls can impact the way customers respond to the business overall — revenue, satisfaction, trust, and more. Having call center agents who can respond professionally and diligently can improve the brand’s overall image and establish a stronger link between customers and brands.
So what makes a great customer service call? Let’s talk about the qualities that a customer support team needs to achieve these types of calls. There are certain criteria that a call center agent needs to meet, regardless of the company they represent or the call context.
We gathered some exemplary traits that a call center agent should possess. This helps to guarantee that each customer support call goes smoothly and professionally.
As mentioned, if you are or want to be a call center agent, you would need to display a certain skill set. Most of these skills actually stem from soft skills, which can easily be cultivated outside of work. They are mostly dependent on your mannerisms and personality.
Here are some soft skills that are needed in a customer support agent:
Unlike regular customer service (ex. sales floor, store associate), customer support agents depend solely on verbal communication. This can make the communication between client and representative more difficult to handle. Therefore, the skills between regular customer service and support agents vary.
This is the primary trait of a customer service representative. Since there is no body language or visual communication between you and the customer, you need to rely on listening. By listening and “observing,” you will get to filter out the type of tone and language your customer is using. If the client is agitated or upset, use phrases that will help calm them down and redirect them to the issue at hand.
Listening is vital not just because your task relies on verbal communication but also because of technological components. Sometimes the voice on the other end can sound static, or they appear to cut off, or their volume changes frequently. If this happens, you may have to advise them to get them to hang up and call back. You also want to check on your phone or earpiece to make sure that it’s not a problem on your end either.
By engaging in active listening, you are displaying that you care about the client and prioritize their issue above all else.
When acknowledging a customer’s issue, you would want to start with any of these phrases:
These phrases are great starter responses on your part. The use of ‘we’ makes you appear as the voice of the brand you are representing. It also gives you a trustworthy and friendly appearance.
Being courteous and professional are important qualities in a customer support agent. You should keep the brand image in mind when selecting what tone you want to speak in. For example, if you’re a customer call agent for Disney, you would opt for a friendly and enthusiastic tone. If your brand is more professional, then aim for a formal and straightforward tone.
Make sure to not falter in your tone, and keep it professional and trustworthy throughout the call. Clients will be able to pick up worry, nervousness, or lack of confidence in their voice. If you feel like you may stutter or derail verbally, then take a brief pause to recollect yourself. Sometimes there are issues or unclear communication that can take a toll on you while you’re still on a call.
If you’re unsure what type of tone to go for, always go for a friendly and professional tone. Here are some examples of phrases customer support agents can use to establish their tone:
Customer service calls can be unpredictable, which is why adaptability is a valued trait. You need to be able to problem-solve and use critical thinking to resolve issues. Misunderstandings can arise from unclear communication, so be prompt and reassure the client.
If a customer presents a concern that you are unaware of how to solve right away, ask for patience. Use that time to resolve their issue as quickly as possible. Some concerns can be a niche or even unclear, and it’s up to you to decide how to handle the situation. Regardless, being adaptable will make your client appreciative of your efforts.
When you run into an unprecedented problem, or you want to request patience, use the following phrases:
As a customer service agent, you will get to talk to people from all sorts of backgrounds. To keep matters clear and concise, use plain language when addressing your client. The use of technical jargon may confuse the receiver, so only use technical terms if it’s related to the issue at hand. If it is, try your best to simplify or define the term in the simplest definition.
Using plain language is also a part of clear communication. As a call center agent, you want to reduce or eliminate the chances of miscommunication on your part. Speaking with simple words will make you more accessible and friendly.
Another note is to keep your words and explanations short. While it is in your best interest to help the client as much as possible, remember that time is valuable to each side. You want to resolve the concern to move onto the next caller, and the client wants their concern to be addressed immediately.
Here are some phrases that help indicate the use of plain language:
You want to appear non-threatening the moment you speak to your customer. Be aware that they may have been on the line for a while, or they’re deeply frustrated by an ongoing issue. By creating a welcoming and friendly environment, you’re able to reduce the stress of the client.
How do you make a friendly environment? Start with using friendly conversation starters like “Good morning” or “Hello.” Then assure them that you’re there to handle their concerns. You also want to watch the tone of voice you’re using to address them. Customers can pick up on a monotone or tired voice if you don’t share the right amount of enthusiasm. This can dent their expectations about you as a customer support agent.
It’s important to have a positive attitude despite the situation. If your attitude falters, it can negatively impact the client about the brand you represent. Make sure that the environment you create is warm and inviting enough to put your customer at ease.
There are plenty of positive words customer support agents can use to create a friendly environment:
When ending a call, always make sure to end with “Thank you for calling” or “Pleasure assisting you.” You want to thank the customer for their time and patience.
Each phone ring is equal to six seconds. You can imagine how it feels if the phone rings six or ten times with no answer. It’s ideal for responding within the second or third ring. Waiting long can result in a negative experience or attitude towards your represented brand. If you answer within a second, you can catch your customer off guard. In turn, the call may feel awkward for them.
Many customer support agents answer calls within the first few rings to give customers time to formulate their questions or concern. Even timing is essential when it comes to responding to customers as a call center agent.
What happens if you’re unable to answer? Then there should be an automated system that redirects customers that lets them know they’re currently in a queue or that you’re experiencing an overflow of calls and asks them to call back later. It’s not the most positive thing to do, but it’s a realistic situation. The least you can provide is reassurance that the customer can eventually reach you.
This one is a given, but it’s still a valued quality in a call center agent. When everything revolves around verbal communication, everything needs to be clear in your voice. Speaking at a moderate pace is one of them.
It can help clear further misconceptions and will ease some agitated customers. If you speak too quickly, the customer will be forced to ask to repeat what you said. When this happens, take it as a notice to slow down your speech. Remember that there may be some customers that don’t have English as their first language. If this is the case, you may want to adjust your pace accordingly.
While you want to help your customer to your fullest extent, some concerns or issues are sometimes out of your area of expertise. If you come across this, then it’s best to refer the customer to a colleague. Don’t be disappointed when this happens, remember that it’s to make the customer’s life easier. If you request for an agent that speaks a certain language or you’re struggling to find a solution, then transfer the customer over to someone who can.
These are the best traits you can find in a customer support agent! Having these qualities will ensure a great customer service call.
What are your thoughts on what makes a great customer service call? Comment down below and let us know!
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