Any company that wants to succeed in the new digital economy can do so by focusing on its most valuable assets—employees. Talent development involves strategically developing new and old employees’ skills based on your company’s objectives. This is the foundation of a business’s sustainability. It also involves continuous efforts to identify skill gaps, offer training programs, and manage succession planning, resulting in more qualified employees and improved organizational performance.
Talents and Qualities Needed for Customer Service Employees
Although delivering excellent customer service requires a ton of effort and alignment across your entire business, your customer service team is a perfect place to start. It’s crucial to hire employees who genuinely want to help your clients succeed and pay rates to attract skilled professionals.
However, finding the perfect employees for a customer support team is challenging. Because no particular college diplomas and checklist of job experiences add up to the ideal hire instead, you must look for qualities and talents that can’t be taught.
The ideal candidates thrive on one-on-one interactions within their community. They’re approachable, warm, great problem-solvers, and they’re great at teaching others how things work.
Every customer service manager should develop and look for five customer service skills and talents when hiring new employees.
1. Problem-Solving Skills
Consumers don’t always self-diagnose their problems correctly. Often, it’s up to the customer support agents to troubleshoot the issue at hand before finding a solution. That means customer support reps must identify what went wrong and what the customer was trying to achieve.
For instance, if a customer writes in because they’re unable to reset their password, that’s because they need to log into their account. Therefore, a good customer service rep must anticipate that need. Also, they should go the extra mile to perform the password reset manually and give the customer new login details while teaching the customer how they can reset their password themselves in the future.
Other times, a problem-solving expert may just offer preemptive advice or a solution that the customer doesn’t even know is an option.
Listening to customers is critical in delivering exceptional service for many reasons. Thus, it’s essential to pay attention to each clients’ experiences. Also, it’s vital to be attentive and mindful of the feedback you receive.
For example, your customers might not be saying it outright, but maybe there’s a pervasive feeling that your app’s dashboard isn’t laid out correctly. So consumers won’t say, “Please improve your user experience,” but they might say things such as, “I can’t find the search feature,” or “Where is the checkout button?”
A good customer service rep must be attentive to understand what customers aren’t saying.
Patience is critical for customer service employees. So often, customers who reach out for help are frustrated and confused. Listening to customers and handling them with patience goes a long way in making them feel you’ll ease their current frustrations.
It’s not enough to resolve customer queries as quickly as possible. Your customer support team must be ready to take the time to listen and fully understand every customer’s needs and problems.
4. Clear Communication Skills
Your customer service team is on the front line of solving customers’ issues. On one side, they’re the voice of your brand to your customers. That means they must have a solid grasp of simplifying complex concepts into easily understood terms.
On the other side, your support team will represent the thoughts and needs of customers to your business. For instance, it’s frustrating for a customer to receive lengthy explanations on the ins and outs of solving a specific issue.
Being clear when interacting with customers is vital because miscommunications can cause frustration and disappointment. Therefore, an excellent customer service representative must know how to keep their communications with clients simple, leaving no room for doubt.
5. Ability to Use Positive Language
Excellent customer service involves changing your conversational patterns, which can go a long way in improving customer satisfaction and retention rates.
Language is a vital part of persuasion. That’s because buyers create perceptions about your brand, products, and services based on the tone and language you use.
Suppose a customer reaches out to your team interested in a particular product, but that product is out-of-stock. Responding to customers’ questions and concerns with positive language significantly affect how the customer perceives the response.
For instance, saying “I can’t get your order because the product is out-of-stock at the moment” doesn’t sound negative per se, but it conveys an impersonal and abrupt tone, and the customer may interpret it the wrong way.
However, you can say, “that product will be available in two weeks. I can place your order right now and ensure it’s sent to you as soon as it gets to our warehouse.” This response focuses on how the issue will be resolved rather than the negative.
How a CSM Can Develop Customer Service Skills and Talents
Creating an improved talent development plan for your company calls for planning and cooperation between your customer service manager, the human resource department, and the learning teams. However, it’s possible to improve over time by implementing some simple talent development best practices, even as things are currently.
1. Understand Your Organization Objectives and Desired Skills
Based on your company objectives, your customer service manager must build an improved talent development program to align with these objectives and your current business strategy. Start from where your company is now and build from there. This will ensure that you’re investing in the right initiatives.
Suppose your organization is planning to focus more on machine learning. That means developing your customer service employee’s skills in those areas is crucial for the future success of your company.
2. Create an Environment of Learning
Kristi Faltorusso notes, “just because you’ve created a playbook does not mean that your team is using it effectively or that it’s even helpful.”
CSMs must focus on developing adaptability and encourage continuous learning. They must encourage new employees to carve out time in their tight schedules to learn daily. Also, they must make active learning a cultural core value by instilling this mindset among all customer service employees.
Visa is a perfect example of a company that embraces a culture of continuous learning among its employees. The company established a learning team and an ongoing effort to offer an industry-leading personalized curriculum for its employees.
3. Include Leadership Coaching
Coaching shouldn’t be limited to one-on-one relationships established only for that purpose. Company leaders have unlimited opportunities to coach other employees daily and often offer valuable in-the-moment coaching to speed up employee development.
However, coaching is more than offering suggestions and advice for improvement. It requires making a connection first, showing employees you care about their aspirations and development, and then creating opportunities to help them learn and develop their skills.
For example, customer support managers can coach and mentor by frequently asking customer support employees about their career aspirations, discussing training opportunities, and assigning assignments to help their teammates learn and grow. Once leaders establish a connection with employees, they can coach and mentor more effectively by observing employee behaviors and sharing valuable strategies for skill development.
4. Lead by Example
The behavior of leaders can have a significant impact on employee behavior. A 2018 survey found that 42% of new managers and leaders developed their management style from observing other managers. Customer service managers can find success by developing talent, encouraging ongoing improvement, and showing other employees the importance of developing and nurturing leadership strengths.
Customer service managers who desire to become better via leadership development and expanding their skills in other areas show their value of developing and growing as professionals. In addition, when employees see managers sharpening their own skills and talents, they’re more likely to follow suit and seek opportunities to improve their skills.
CSMs can make substantial progress in developing customer service skills and talents among their team members by delegating tasks that challenge employees to get out of their comfort zone. However, delegation doesn’t mean assigning a task to someone but discussing, explaining, and coaching to help the employee learn and perform better.
Thus, customer support managers must identify which responsibilities to delegate and whom to delegate them to. They can do this by communicating their expectations, giving regular feedback, and trusting employees to be accountable for the outcome of delegated tasks. As customer service employees take on newly delegated duties, they’ll become more confident in their ability to consistently provide high levels of customer service.
Leverage Zight (formerly CloudApp) to Develop Key Talent in New Employees
Zight (formerly CloudApp) is a powerful customer support software that customer support managers can leverage to make their team more efficient. For instance, Basecamp saves 80 minutes every week on customer support training by using Zight (formerly CloudApp). By leveraging Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s visual element to communicate with customers or internally, the company improved clarity, avoiding unnecessary frustrations among customers. Also, the company improved its onboarding process with GIFs and HD videos, allowing it to trust fully trained customer support employees to handle the increasing customer queries.