Customer Contact Skills

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Customer Contact Skills

To make sure that you secure new, and retain existing customers, any customer facing staff member should develop competency in at least 10 key areas. This applies to both face to face and telephone contact centre staff.

Morpheus focuses on these 10 key Customer Contact competencies, as a foundation to securing basic competency of staff. These 10 key competencies become a natural part of any customer contact staff's key performance indicators, alongside any other statistical measure.

Click on the link below to visit our sister company web site, where we employ specialists to develop staff specifically for Customer Contact Centres.

Call Centre Training

10 Key Foundation Customer Contact competencies

An overview is provided for each of the 10 Customer Contact competencies, and you can click to open up more information, for each.

1. Patience

Great service often beats fast service, and this requires patience by customer contact staff, to work at the customer's speed and spend time understanding what the customer wants and needs.

Too often customer contact staff are overly keen to get to the end goal, either securing a sale, answering a question, or simply getting on to the next contact.

If you deal with customers on a daily basis, be sure to stay patient when they come to you stumped and frustrated, but also be sure to take the time to truly understand out what they want, they'd rather get competent service than be rushed out the door, or off the phone!

2. Attentiveness

The ability to really listen to customers is so crucial for providing great service for a number of reasons.

Pay attention to individual customer interactions, watching and listening for verbal and non-verbal clues, language, or terms that they use to describe their wants, needs and problems.

Be mindful and attentive to the feedback that you receive with every customer reaction and response. This goes beyond the customer who is complaining, because the good news there, is that we can act upon it. It's what the customers don't say, that we need to be more concerned.

Customers may not be direct with you, and often provide clues, behind what they say. The adage it's not what he/she said, it's the way it was said is the focal point here. Customers sometimes don't like to ask you to improve part of your service or offering. They expect you to know.

What are your customers telling you without saying it?

3. Clear Communication Skills

It's okay to find out more about your customers, but make sure you're getting to the problem at hand quickly; customers don't need your life story or to hear about how your day is going.

They certainly do not need to hear about the problems you are having with systems, or other departments - that simply shows your business to be ineffective or inefficient.

All mumblers and people who love to ramble on need to stop and listen and be clear and concise

You also need to be cautious about how some of your communication habits translate to customers, and it's best to be cautious, with what you offer or promise. .

An example: The last time my car went in for a service I was told that the price of the oil for the oil change would be included in my final bill. I thought this meant that the cost of it was included, within the overall price of the service. I was wrong - and there was an extra charge for oil! The service company apologised and explained that the person I spoke to was new.

I don't care if he was new, he should have been trained properly!

When it comes to important points that you need to relay clearly to customers, keep it simple and leave nothing to chance.

4. Knowledge of the Product or Service

The best forward-facing employees in your business will work on having a deep knowledge of how your product and offering works.

They simply need to know the ins and outs of how your product/service works, just like a customer who uses it every day would; they don't need to be a technical expert

Without knowing your product/service from front-to-back, you won't know how to help customers when they run into problems.

Alongside this principle, we would also recommend that your contact staff can clearly communicate product/service features and benefits, for different users. This may sound straightforward, but this goes back to Attentiveness and Clear Communication.

Product features are what makes your product what it is - its function and use - and also what sets it apart from the competition - if you have any unique selling points (USPs).

Personalising these to the customer's particular wants, needs and requirements are what a quality customer contact staff member will do, to ensure the customer has the right product/service; and customers will commit to that sooner in the engagement process.

Ask yourself, what added value does a contact member of staff add to the product/service?

Why not just list the features and benefits of the product/service on a web site for the customers read?

Many customers will engage with your business through e-commerce, but adding value through a customer contact staff member must be something more.

5. Ability to Use "Positive Language"

Language is a very important part of persuasion, and people (especially customers) create perceptions about you and your company based on the language that you use.

Your ability to make minor changes in your conversational patterns, focusing on the positive, and not the negative, can truly go a long way in securing and keeping business.

Here's an example: A customer contacts you with an interest in a particular product, but that product happens to be out of stock until next month.

Using positive language patterns will greatly affect how the customer hears your response:

Without positive language:"I can't get you that product until next month, as its currently out of stock."

With positive language: "That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse."

The first example isn't negative by any means, but the tone that it conveys feels abrupt and impersonal, and can be taken the wrong way by customers.

Conversely, the second example is stating the same thing (the item is unavailable), but instead focuses on when/how the customer will get to their resolution rather than focusing on the negative.

6. Ability to "Read" Customers

You won't always be able to see customers face-to-face, and with e-commerce you won't even hear a customer's voice!

That doesn't stop you from understanding some basic principles of behavioural psychology and being able to "read" the customer's current emotional state; whether they are buying or complaining.

This is an important part of the personalisation process as well, because it takes knowing your customers to create a personal experience for them.

More importantly though, this skill is essential because you don't want to mis-read a customer and end up losing them due to confusion and miscommunication.

Look and listen for subtle clues about their current mood, patience level, personality, etc., and you'll go far in keeping your customer interactions positive.

We have programmes to develop understanding of Behavioural and Motivational drivers, as well as Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

7. Persuasion Skills

Experienced customer support personnel know that often, you will get messages in your inbox that are more about the curiosity of your company's product, rather than having problems with it. (Especially true if your email is available on the web site)

To truly take your customer service skills to the next level, you need to have some mastery of persuasion so that you can convince interested customers that your product is right for them (if it truly is).

It's not about making a sales pitch in each email, but it is about not letting potential customers slip away because you couldn't create a compelling message that your company's product is worth purchasing!

Look and listen for subtle clues about their current mood, patience level, personality, etc., and you'll go far in keeping your customer interactions positive.

We have programmes to develop understanding of Behavioural and Motivational drivers, as well as Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

8. Tenacity

A great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done, is a key skill when providing the kind of service that people talk about.

The many memorable and good customer service stories we hear about, were created by a single employee who refused to just do the basics and stick to the "status quo" when it came to helping someone out.

Remembering that your customers are people too, and knowing that putting in the extra effort will come back to you ten-fold should be your driving motivation to never short change your customers with basic or lazy service.

9. Close and Wrap Ability

Being able to close with a customer, means being able to end the conversation with confirmed satisfaction, and with the customer feeling that everything that could be done, has been done.

Be sure to take the time to confirm with customers that each and every issue they had in their head, has been explored and entirely resolved.

Your willingness to do this shows the customer 3 very important things:

  1. That you care about getting it right
  2. That you're willing to keep going until you get it right
  3. That the customer is the one who determines what "right" is.
10. Willingness to Learn!

This is probably the most "general" skill on the list, but it's still necessary.

Those who don't seek to improve what they do, whether it's building products, marketing businesses, or helping customers, will get left behind by the people willing to invest in their skills.

If you read all the way to the bottom of these 10 key Customer Contact competencies, then you are likely to have already learned something.

What about the rest of your colleagues?

Click on the enquiry button to find how we can help further - or better still, pick up the phone and call.

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