- The quality of the customer support system depends on the people it’s run by. Choosing the right people for your customer service is a fundamental step to strengthening your support team.
- While new hires can be taught how to become great customer representatives during training there are some skills they should demonstrate during an interview.
- Introducing new employees to the team and the company’s policies is a great way to start the training as it will make them feel comfortable in the new workplace.
- It’s important to make sure new agents know the company’s product or service in and out before they go off to take customer inquiries.
- Possessing soft skills is fundamental to an effective customer support service. Training new agents to use empathy, a positive attitude and self-control during their interaction with clients is a key step to making your customer support system outstanding.
Today, customer service is pretty much everything for businesses. It impacts your sales and, consequently, your revenue. It influences your reputation and how customers view your company. It either moves your business forward or backward. In other words, customer service determines the course of your business.
Therefore, to fulfill your business goals you must build a strong and effective customer support system. How do you do that? The answer is simple – high-quality customer service training. Though the answer may come as obvious to you, it’s important to understand that training your support representatives is a complex process that requires a lot of effort and resources as well as constant development.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the important steps of customer support training and show you how to open your support agents’ full potential.
Finding the right people
Before the training process comes the hiring process. So first of all, let’s talk about what to look for in a candidate for a customer support position.
Choosing your team is just as important as managing your business. The right people can lead your company towards success and the goals you have set for it. They can get your business through turbulent times and lead it out of the crisis if needed. This is why it’s so important to choose your candidates carefully.
Here are the skills you should look for in a candidate when hiring for your customer support team.
This is a number one trait the candidate has to possess considering that the whole essence of a support representative position is to assist customers through communication. Therefore, If a person is unable to communicate clearly and effectively the chances are they won’t be able to help your customers.
When interviewing potential candidates consider these things:
The way an individual formulates answers
If a person is a good communicator they should be able to convey their thoughts clearly and give coherent and explicit answers.
The tone of their voice
When your customers reach out for help they expect to hear a friendly and ready-to-help voice on the other end of the line. If a candidate’s voice sounds tight or unfriendly some customers may find it rude.
Pay attention to a person’s articulation and how easy you can understand them. It’s important because usually, communication through a phone is not as clear as it is in person, so it requires more articulation and enunciation.
Ability to explain complex things
A good customer representative should be able to explain a complicated topic or break it down to customers if needed. When interviewing a candidate ask them to explain something related to your field. It also shows how quickly can a person think on the spot and find an answer – very important things in customer support service.
Patience & Emotional Stability
Customer support job entails dealing with havoc and stressful situations like having an angry customer or trying to resolve complicated problems. That’s why a person applying for a customer representative position should be able to withstand any difficult or hectic situations. Patience and emotional stability would be key characteristics here.
Your potential candidate should be able to listen to customer’s complaints and demands calmly and patiently. If a person has difficulties controlling their emotions they’re more likely to break in the face of pressure or lose temper which would negatively affect customer feedback. So when interviewing candidates, find out how they behave in stressful circumstances: give them an example of an intense situation and ask them how they would handle it; ask them to tell you about their experience dealing with difficult customers; and finally, ask them how they work under pressure.
That information should give you a pretty good idea of an individual’s self-control and emotional intelligence.
Cleverness & Self-Efficacy
An ideal customer support agent should know every little detail about their company’s product/service and have an answer to any customer questions. However, it’s impossible to predict every issue a customer may have and, therefore, to be prepared for it. Customer support service is an ever-changing system that requires resourcefulness and self-efficiency.
In an instance when agents deal with an unfamiliar problem they should be able to find out how to resolve it. Though this can be taught during training the candidates still should demonstrate a basic level of resourcefulness. Those who fail to display problem-solving skills and willingness to take on any issue or challenge are not a good fit for a customer support job.
Training and Onboarding
Training new hires can stretch over a couple of weeks or even months. It all depends on the company’s standards and its size. Investing in training is vital for building a strong customer support base as it sets out new recruits for serving your company and gives them an insight into your business. Thus, during training, you want to make an impression of a good organization that cares for its employees as well as set high standards for quality of work.
Introducing team and company policies
A proper way to start familiarizing new hires with your organization is to introduce them to your team and company policies. It’s important to make new employees feel welcome and comfortable in the new workplace.
Here are things you should arrange for the new hires on the first day of training:
- Give them an office tour and introduce them to the entire team. Some companies deem this step as unnecessary and skip it. However, this is an essential part of the adaptation process.
- Schedule an onboarding meeting with an HR manager to get them familiarized with the company policies and their contract terms.
- Take them to lunch or, if possible, arrange a lunch meeting in the office for the entire team. This will give new employees an opportunity to get to know their new coworkers a little better.
Product & Service training
A customer support representative is a person who users go to when they have a question about a product or service. They expect them to resolve their issues and inquiries instantly. To be able to do that an agent has to know a product/service in and out.
Introducing your service/product to new hires consists of a theoretical and practical part. Provide trainees with all information that needs to be studied and then quiz them on what they learned. It’s important to give them enough time to go through a knowledge base. For a better insight let them check out the product or service so they see for themselves what your customers experience.
Oftentimes, managers try to rush through the training process to get a new employee to start working as soon as possible. However, such an attitude can cost them the quality of the employee’s work. If an agent doesn’t have a solid knowledge base of a product/service they will struggle to provide quality support for your customers.
Don’t expect new agents to learn how to use tools while working, because when they do start delivering customer support they won’t have time to figure out the system. Make sure they learn how to use your software very well before starting to take customer inquiries. Dedicate time to explain thoroughly how everything works and allow employees to get familiar with the system to the point when they feel comfortable using it without anybody’s help.
Also, set up new hires with all apps, subscriptions and other tools they will need to use to complete their job. Those can include platforms for research, team communication, workforce management and others.
Support process training
Usually, each company develops its own support system that includes specific interaction style, channel management, the way issues are resolved and more. Teaching your new agents to handle your support process appropriately is vital to maintaining effective business workflow.
Hand out your company’s guidelines that recruits should follow when dealing with customers but don’t stop there. Simply sticking to the guidelines won’t help agents when they are faced with an unfamiliar issue. Try to explain that while following established rules is important there are circumstances that require critical thinking.
Developing a confident working style and solid knowledge takes time and experience. But there are some techniques that can be implemented during training to help get there faster. Making your trainees going off script and use critical thinking would set them on a path to gaining self-efficiency and confidence in their communication skills.
Soft skills training
The main component of the customer support service is an attitude. If an agent posses the knowledge necessary to help the customer but doesn’t have soft skills the whole support process would be messed up. To prevent such cases make sure to give your new hires solid soft skills training.
Here are the skills you should teach them:
Trying to see a problem from a customer’s perspective allows an agent to resolve the issue more quickly and effectively.
Since a customer support job involves a lot of instances of dealing with difficult customers and intense situations there will be moments of anger and irritation. Teach your trainees to calm themselves and stay patient during such situations.
Customer support communication is all about navigation and presenting information in a positive way. Stating bluntly the facts doesn’t work here. Train your employees to convey any kind of information in a positive and respectful manner.
Empathize the importance of decision-making to your trainees. Teach them to take initiative and make judgment calls independently.
Choosing the right person for your customer support team is just a small part of the hiring process. A much bigger and important part is the training of a selected candidate as it lays the groundwork for successful performance. That’s why it’s important to give new employees thorough and comprehensive training. Preparing recruits to deliver high-level customer support is a diligent and complex process that will pay off in the future.