The 5 most important customer service techniques
Last updated April 28, 2021
Customers are king and in order to treat them like royalty, your customer service team needs to deliver the best experience every time. That’s why customer service professionals should strive to master these five customer service techniques:
1. Be a copy cat
It’s great to mirror a customer’s language or phrasing to show them that you understand and acknowledge their issue. This helps create a mutual understanding and establishes a better relationship, making it easier for both the customer and the agent to receive the information they need. It’s also important to use a considerate tone, no matter the channel. Tone can be hard to decipher over live chat, text, or social media, especially since responses can be short, quick, and incomplete, so choosing your words carefully is an essential customer service skill. A good technique? Use a gentle, informative tone—patience is an important practice when faced with a frustrated customer and can greatly improve the customer experience.
2. Listen, summarize, and repeat
Listening closely to a customer’s problem is an important customer service skill because it enables agents to summarize and repeat the customer’s problem. Doing so ensures that the customer feels their issue is understood. On top of summarizing and repeating the customer’s issue, it’s also important to summarize the help you’re providing. The ability to adequately communicate all that you’re doing to help is a top job skill for customer service employees because then customers are informed and clear on the next steps that will help solve their issue.
3. Use templates, not boilerplates
Customers don’t want to feel like their conversing with a robot. Don’t be afraid to add some personality. While it’s important to use templates that include some pre-written text for efficient customer service, it’s also important to think of templates as guidelines. They can provide a helpful structure for common responses (like a list for step-by-step responses), but they shouldn’t be overly rigid and unwavering. Customer service employees should personalize their own answers before replying to customers. This leads to a more personal, improved interaction—and a more fulfilling customer service job.
4. Know your product inside out
Knowledge means power. The better your support team understands your product, the better they are at helping others use it. Product training should be a key part of onboarding processes, along with regular refreshers—because updates and new releases happen.
5. Learn the customer service skills specific to each support channel
Good customer experiences involve much more than simply answering questions. With 67% of customers using channels like live chat, social media, and texting for support, good customer service now means being able to respond to queries through email, live chat, and social media.
While soft skills like empathy, the ability to read a customer’s emotional state, social graces, communication, and friendliness remain important, additional skills need to be developed and improved upon. Each customer service channel benefits from a unique approach to these skills. The following channel-specific customer service techniques should help support agents move easily between channels.
Phone agents need to consider their tone when providing customer service. It’s easy to convey emotions through voice, for better or worse. When handling phone support it’s important to remember to:
- Mirror the customer’s’ language and tone, unless it’s angry and/or impatient
- Listen first, then validate the problem
- Acknowledge the customer
- Summarize the problem
- Communicate hold times
When providing email support, good writing skills are crucial. Emails need to be personal, yet structured and precise. A good way to keep emails clean, clear, and short is to detail a list of issues, be specific in describing how you’ll help, and link to any possible resources that might inform or help the customer as well. And of course, make sure to include proofreading and spellcheck as part of the process. Here’s what you’ll need for great email support in any situation:
- Make templates your own—add personality
- Spellcheck, then spellcheck again
- Respond in a defined timeframe and prioritize
- Imitate the customer’s phrasing
Providing great live chat support requires a cross of phone and email skills. Chat is conversational and real-time, just like customer service over the phone, but it also requires strong writing skills. Here’s what every great live chat agent needs to pay attention to:
- Use a gentle, informative tone
- Multitask—you can chat to more than one person at a time
- Read customer cues, copy their phrasing
When live chat isn’t available, customers turn to social media for an exceptionally fast response. The customer service skills required to provide customer service on social media are generally advanced and often saved for senior or specialized customer service agents. Agents need to go the extra mile. The following skills are crucial for social media support:
- (Almost) always respond—and respond quickly
- Publicly acknowledge you’re following up with them
- React carefully to confrontation and use a gentle, informative tone
- Differentiate and create social media tickets to keep track of information
Do you have tips of your own on the most important techniques for providing great customer support? Join in the conversation here.