Working in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry a call center in the Philippines requires excellent, if not good, communication skills. But what specific qualifications do customer service companies really look for?
Here’s a list of the skills you must have to be an effective call center agent, as well as tips on how to develop them.
1. Active listening
Why it’s needed: Listening actively to customers results lets you understand their concerns better. It enables you, the customer support agent, to figure out where the problem’s coming from. Then, you can come up with a strategy to address the concern effectively. Furthermore, listening intently will help you create a better impression among customers, sending the message that you genuinely care about their sentiments.
How to develop this skill: Indeed, it’s easier to dismiss what others are saying and instead focus on what you want to say. On the contrary, listening well means:
• paying attention to what a customer says,
• asking questions for clarification, and
• reviewing the points that were conveyed during the conversation.
2. Clarity and concision
Why it’s needed: Speaking clearly and concisely indicates remarkable communication skills. Being clear and concise keeps conversations short, and straightforward.
How to develop this skill: Always say exactly what you mean. Stay on topic and do not ramble on. Otherwise you’ll leave the caller confused. Also, omit unnecessary details that aren’t relevant to the conversation, and use simple words to convey your message. That way, you’ll get your point across easily.
Why it’s needed: An agent that sounds confident over the phone creates the right impression among customers. It gives off the vibe that the agent is enthusiastic and highly capable, helping build customer trust.
How to develop this skill: The only way a person can sound confident is when he knows what he’s saying. That’s why it’s important to always support your statement with statistics, facts, or records. For example, always refer to your product use guidelines when responding to customers’ questions. That way, you’ll sound sure of what you’re saying and avoid sounding hesitant.
Why it’s needed: Understanding your customers’ emotions helps you build stronger relationships with them. This allows for a better, more productive conversation. Not only does it prevent a customer from feeling upset, it can also help you calm angry callers down.
How to develop this skill: When you receive an angry call, understand that the person is emotional because of a specific problem. Use statements such as “I understand where you’re coming from…” or “I’m sorry you have to experience that…” to express your concern. This way, the customer would know that you’re paying attention to their concern and are willing to find a solution.
Why it’s needed: Customer service is best delivered by friendly agents. Plus, friendliness allows you to engage the customer into a healthy and lively discussion. This way, they’d feel more comfortable talking to you.
How to develop this skill: Whether you’re talking to a customer via the phone, email, or chat, start the conversation on a polite and cheerful tone. Greet customers warmly, smile while you’re speaking, and make customers feel that you genuinely enjoy talking to them.
Why it’s needed: Not all customers will be agreeable. In fact, more often than not, you’ll encounter stubborn customers. They’ll be assertive and sometimes hard to convince. In this case, you need to be open-minded. Acknowledge customers’ opinions and listen to their sentiments. However, remember that you must be objective as well so that you can recommend effective solutions to their concerns.
How to develop this skill: Being open-minded means listening to what others have to say, conversing in a healthy and respectful manner, expressing one’s thoughts without interrupting the other, and respecting opinions that are different from yours. As a customer support agent, however, remember that you must come up with fair solutions without forcing your opinions on others. Most of the time, you’ll have to meet customers halfway to make them happy.
Effective communication skills are learned through continuous practice. Monitor and evaluate your own performance, and set improvement goals. Also, be receptive to your colleagues’ or mentors’ feedback so you can further enhance your skills. Who knows? You can be a manager sooner than you thought!