This post was originally published on lessonly.com.
In the midst of the holiday season, contact centers have an influx of calls, emails, and chats from customers. Interactions ranging from happy to confused come flowing in, and at the height of the busy season, agents need to rely on the soft skills they’ve learned throughout their career to get by.
If you ask anyone who works in customer service, they’ll tell you that the customer experience is by far the most important outcome of the interaction. That experience will ultimately keep the customer for years to come or cause them to leave.
There are stats upon stats that are collected to ask the question: did this customer have the best experience possible? Metrics like hold time, time to first response, and call duration are all important data points tracked by contact centers. On the other end of the interaction, one of the most important things being tracked by the customer are the agent’s soft skills:
- Was the agent-patient?
- Was the agent empathetic towards my situation?
- Did the agent go the extra mile to solve my problem?
- Did the agent describe the path to resolution in a clear and concise way?
Empowering agents to refine their soft skills throughout the training process is a major factor in the customer experience. By weaving in some of these soft skills alongside product and process training will help agents strengthen their soft skills muscle.
When problem-solving on the fly, how can an agent make the customer feel appreciated, comforted, and respected? If these qualities aren’t practiced along the way, it won’t come naturally when it’s show time.
As a Client Experience Manager at Lessonly, I have a lot of customers inquire about best practices to enhance a customer interaction. These are a few themes that stand out to me:
Lead by example
If agents are working in an environment of respect, patience, and empathy, they are more likely to share that sentiment with their customers. In the world of contact centers, it can be easy to get swept up in the importance of metrics and lose sight of the individuals in front of you. Just as agents can lose sight of the individual at the other end of the phone while trying to improve efficiency. If patience and positivity are woven into all aspects of contact center life, it will shine through where it matters most: with the customer.
Practice makes perfect
No matter if you’re a little league pitcher or playing for the pros, your game time performance will suffer without practice to keep you sharp. In a contact center, practice can take many forms. Practice can occur in a group setting with an instructor-led session. Or, it can happen in-person at the team level during product or process training. Practice can also occur within Lessonly, where agents can record a mock phone call and trainers can review on their own time. The more ways and more times soft skills are practiced over time, the better the agent will perform during the big game.
Knowledge is power
A trained agent is an empowered agent. If you polled your top performers, they’d say a factor of their success is having the answers at their fingertips. If agents can access the information needed to help the customer in an efficient way, whether it be in Lessonly or a knowledge base, they will be more confident in their customer interaction. Confidence shines through on the phone, in chat, or through email, and it leads to clear communication and setting proper expectations.
The customer experience rules all. Soft skills like patience, empathy, and positivity are hard things to teach, but differentiators in every interaction. By emphasizing the importance of soft skills, your agents will be on the path to success and delight customers every time.
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