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Today’s customer service dimensions have evolved from face-to-face and telephonic deals to email, live video chat, Skype and social media platforms. Although these channels of communication are integral for branding and promoting your business offerings to wide spectrum of people, it has cropped into multiple challenges that people face. They have multiplied the status and expectations of communication and building relationships.
No matter how technically you are proficient and how fancy your gadgets and tools are, if your customer service agents will need the appropriate soft skills to delight the customer and bring goodwill to the brand. It is also important for your customer service agent interacts with someone and understands and cater to the deeper needs.
Let us take Real Estate Customer Service representative, Ms. Diya Sharma, a Customer Service Executive in an Engineering sector, who may be knowing the niceties of the business-like project management, budgeting, project financing and so on. But knowing these aspects of the business and not being able to translate the same to the client in the form of effective communication (it could be any – email, telephone, meetings & discussions) holds little value for the business. The knowledge is certainly required, but stands worthless if the same cannot be used for conversions or closing deals with the clients.
For instance, one of our recent associations with an Animation & VFX institute focused on the importance of soft skills in effective client interaction. The front desk executives are the first point of contact and face of the organization. They represent the organizational values and culture. Front desk staff with poor client interaction skills can act as a bottleneck in achieving this business goal.
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Soft skills are such personality traits, which are inherent and intrinsic cues. They determine how a person behaves in a certain situation, interacts in his or her social relationships and communicates his abilities that are needed for success in his job.
Unlike hard skills or Knowledge areas that are taught in the educational curriculum, soft skills are not really learnt in traditional schooling pattern. They are much harder to evaluate and measure. The KSA Model of Iceberg Theory encapsulate all Soft skills such as, communication, teamwork, decision making, motivation, flexibility, positivity, time management, problem-solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, networking, and conflict resolution in Skills and Attitude.
Unfortunately, Soft skills are highly underrated in most of the industries even today. They are mostly assumed, as ‘feel-good’ training programs whereas, if given the right level of importance, it will augment an employee’s engagement with self, role and team. For those service industries that would like to strengthen their customer service quotient, they need to invest dearly in these five Soft Skills essentially required (such as below ones) by this industry.
Listening takes supersede than all other communication-related skills sets as it takes the perspectives of the listener, in this case, your client. It helps solve problems, ensures better understanding, handle conflicts and improve accuracy. In service industry particularly, effective listening means fewer errors and efficient usage of time. In personal relationships, it helps develop trust, reduces heartache and saves one from damage control situations.
Listening to the customers queries and problems make them feel more valued and engaged. An important element of customer service is to make your client feel heard. Continuous interruptions, assumptions or judgment, or listening to receive an agreement would be the greatest deterrent to effective listening. Body language plays an important role in listening. Open-ended and insightful questioning will make your entire process of listening more genuine.
Some like sympathy, some empathy. Sympathy is all about being apologetic and assuring. If your customer sees you going out of the way to understand their issue and find the root cause of frustration to troubleshoot and find a solution for them, you are practicing empathy. This way your customers will feel more understood, comfortable and valued in the entire resolution process. Think about being in customer’s position and feel how you will be treated. How would you feel about the service, brand and the overall experience? This skill needs open mindedness and high emotional intelligence to appreciate this quality.
This is the big part in customer service industry. One should be able to sincerely apologize even though the problem was not yours (and was of the client). Responsibility will only let you evaluate the matter whereas Accountability will make you stand for it. High integrity, humility, assertiveness and empathy towards others will ease you into the required role.
Customer service can become thankless, as you are continually handling customer grievances, problems, or expectations of the customers that you cannot meet. Positive attitude go a long way in coping up with these varied situations. Powerplay of proactive approach and alternative thinking will prove beneficial to keep the situation balanced. Positive attitude also helps you to stay calm, tone down your voice and control your emotions.
While you should be courteous and friendly with your customers, you are not there to make friends! Helping a customer should not be equated to crossing the privacy lines; a simple ‘I understand’ approach will still do the needful.
Apart from the aforementioned skills, the following soft skills are also important:
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The customer service industry may have evolved and adopted new technologies to improve and fast-track their work. But it’s still the human interaction, connection and personal touch that entice the customers and keep them loyal to brands. For instance, one of our recent associations with an Animation & VFX studio chain focused on the importance of soft skills in effective client interaction. The front desk executives are the first point of contact and face of the organization.
They represent the organizational values ad culture. Front desk staff with poor client interaction skills can act as a bottleneck in achieving the business goal. Emphasizing the importance of soft skills from Top to Bottom in a service-oriented organization is what can take you a step closer to success.
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Also read: Shed Your Leaves; Shed Your Inhibitions