Businesses cannot survive without customers. That’s why professionalism in customer service remains one of the core aspects of a business’s offerings.
And with today’s landscape where multiple companies are competing for the same customer, an organization’s customer support serves as its gatekeeper to the poaching competition.
Even if your customers are struggling with your service, support personnel have the opportunity to keep them from leaving. But having standby customer care isn’t enough. Your support team must be professional and effective.
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The Customer Support Challenge
Handling customers requires a lot of patience, tact, and working knowledge of human behavior. You have to maintain your cool in the face of the toughest challenge and still be respectful no matter the customer’s demeanor.
That is why customer service representatives must turn on their professional mode once they switch on their headsets.
Again, it’s not enough to man your contact center with round-the-clock staff. You must ensure your reps are adequately trained to be cool-headed in every situation and consistently deliver excellent customer care.
This article will talk about the importance of professionalism in customer service and ways you can improve it.
What Does Being Professional in Customer Service Mean?
Before diving deep into the importance of professionalism in customer service, let’s first unpack what it means to show professionalism as a customer service rep.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities, that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.”
That means professionalism focuses more on how you do your job and not on what your job is.
Now, the customer service profession involves providing advice and assistance to people who patronize a company so they can solve issues related to products and services.
So, your aim as a customer service rep is to help people resolve their complaints. Your conduct and qualities (your professionalism) as a rep help you achieve that aim.
As a result, you must display certain qualities when interacting with customers and conduct yourself in a manner that will ensure you are always effective. These qualities include:
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking
You must also have a great level of interpersonal skills.
What Makes Professionalism in Customer Service Important?
You can’t be in the middle when it comes to professionalism in customer service. You’re either unprofessional or professional.
Whenever you see a call, it means there’s a problem or an enquiry to be made. There’s hardly a customer that calls a helpline with a smile on their face.
Even the most agreeable customers may be on their last nerves.
So, how you interact with and assist them determines whether your company gets to lose or keep a customer.
According to Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022, 81% of responding consumers admitted that they’re more likely to make another purchase when they experience positive customer service.
New undecided customers and first-time buyers often contact customer care units, and their experience determines if they’ll remain customers.
What’s more, customers will be willing to even pay more when they enjoy and have confidence in your customer service.
Customer care personnel are called reps because they represent the company. They’re the first face and direct voice of the brand, and customers will form an impression of the brand based on how they’re treated by customer care reps.
How to Deliver Excellent Professional Customer Service
Now that you understand the meaning and importance of professionalism in customer service, it’s time to learn different ways you can improve your customer care.
Customers come in different shapes and sizes and there are days you’ll encounter really tough ones. Sometimes, some customers will only call or show up to vent their frustrations. You have to make sure you’re prepared for any situation.
Here are 10 tips on how to consistently deliver superb support to every customer.
1. Speak Politely and Maintain a Positive Tone
Your attitude can subtly control the entire situation if you know how to use it. That’s why your tone of voice and language goes a long way in making an impact when interacting with any customer.
If you’re dealing with a customer face to face, make sure you maintain a calm general body posture and a positive facial expression. This kind of situation is where your people person skills will shine.
Sometimes, you can react remorsefully to show that you understand and care about their issue. But make sure you smile afterward and reassure them you’ll do your best to resolve the problem.
If you’re answering a customer’s call, make sure your tone and language reflect a positive attitude.
Even if you’re chatting with the customer, make the conversation come alive. A straightforward chat may seem cold and passive and could increase the customer’s frustrations.
2. Make Sure You Have Vast Knowledge of the Company’s Products and Services
Your job as a customer service agent is to spend all day assisting customers with troubleshooting issues and teaching them how to use a product. You’re also responsible for answering questions.
That means you must be an expert in the company’s products and services if you’re going to be helpful.
For example, Salarship recommends cashiers to know where every item is stored.
You don’t know where the next issue or question will pop out from, so you don’t have time to start reading up when the customer calls.
Showing the customer you have an expansive knowledge of the problems they’re facing gives them confidence and keeps them calm. You can also throw in one suggestion or the other whenever you complete a call.
You should also believe in the company’s products and services as a customer’s call is another opportunity to sell the company. Your passion should tell them that they’re using the right product. This approach is one of the most effective retention strategies.
3. Use Clear and Concise Language
Confusion is a sure recipe for chaos in customer service. So, you must know when and how to use your verbal communication skills.
Most customers are already lost and don’t know which way to go before they call. They’re reaching out for guidance and hoping you could, at least, explain what’s going on.
That kind of situation means you have to pick the right words and ensure they understand every single idea.
Avoid using jargon that will compound their confusion and stick to lay language like you’re explaining to a five year old.
If you must use technical terms, make sure you explain them.
You can ask them if they understand, as that instant feedback helps you tune your language to each person.
4. Listen to the Customer
Active listening is another pillar of quality customer service. It involves paying attention to everything they say when they call to make a complaint, ask about something, or seek assistance.
Listening shows they have your ears and you care about their situation.
You’ll get to use even the smallest details in their complaints or questions to figure out the root cause of the problem and provide the right solution.
Don’t try to push your own agenda when they start talking. Instead, stay calm and allow them to finish.
Avoid completing their sentences because you believe you know what they’ll say next.
Even if the issue sounds similar, listen to their version.
If you want to clarify anything, you can politely ask them about specifics. Use words like “Let me confirm if I’ve got it right” or “It sounds like…” Use words that show you’re engaged and invested in the conversation.
5. Be Patient
There’s a lot of noise in a frustrated customer’s voice.
Sometimes, their anger makes them less coherent and you can hardly pick up anything they’re saying.
It helps to stay calm and listen to that anger and frustration in some cases. That’s because most people will be restless until they get everything off their chest.
Try not to respond to their vents and yelling, as that would intensify the situation and kill off any chance for reasonable dialog.
Once they’re done, you can then calm them down and tell them there’s a solution to their issues.
Politely ask them about the problem, when they started experiencing it, and the steps they’ve taken so far. Then, apologize if they’ve tried to reach out for help without luck and explain the possible reasons for that.
Once you’ve got them calm enough, you can now engage and start providing solutions or the next steps.
6. Handle Customers Individually
Make sure you talk to customers as individuals, not mere ticket numbers. Use their names when addressing them to make the conversation more personal. Then, talk about the problems they’re facing without using repetitive customer service jargon.
7. Offer Prompt Support
According to a Statista report, 36% of customers in the US said the most important aspect of a great customer care experience is having their problems resolved in one interaction.
Always remember that customers don’t enjoy calling helplines. They only do it when they absolutely have to.
So, don’t waste their time with unnecessary questions and long validations. Once you understand the issue and know the right solution, offer it immediately.
Solving issues as fast as possible is the best thing you can do for your brand. That’s because customers will continue to swear by your customer support to friends and families, increasing your customer base.
8. Exhibit Empathy
When you intimately understand a customer and their struggles, you’ll be more interested in helping them.
For example, a customer may need help with their car when running late for a life-changing interview.
Try to put yourself in their shoes to boost your motivation in helping them resolve the issue.
Apart from solving the problem promptly, they’ll notice your empathy and be grateful to your company for it.
9. Be Proactive
You don’t just have to wait until customers reach out to you. You can go the extra mile by anticipating future problems and resolving them.
In some cases, customers may be dealing with an issue without being able to articulate them. Some problems go on in the background for a long time before they notice.
When you solve these kinds of issues before they experience them, they’ll feel more valued and appreciate your brand more.
As a result, they’ll be more confident using your products because they believe you truly have things handled. And even when they call for you to fix problems, you wouldn’t have to deal with the regular abrasive customer.
10. Follow Up
Don’t just say goodbye to a customer once you’ve answered their question or resolved a problem. Instead, follow up and request feedback about the service they just received.
You can also ask to confirm if the issue showed up again. That way, they’ll believe you care about them and your business.
How Companies Can Improve Professionalism in Customer Service
As a company, there are many different things you can do to improve your customer care.
From investing in your staff to implementing policies that focus on the customer, your management will reflect on how much you want to see your business grow through customer service. Here are some tips that will help improve your professionalism in customer service.
Provide the Right Tools and Resources
Your customer service agents won’t succeed without the right tools, and you can’t expect them to get those tools themselves.
From software solutions to reliable gadgets, make sure your support team doesn’t lack what it needs.
You can also collect feedback on the tools you provided to know when to replace and repair any. The idea is not just to provide the tools, but also to make sure they’re useful and functioning.
Provide Adequate Training
If you’re introducing new systems and tools, make sure your customer service agents are adequately trained to use them.
You should also invest in training them on how to use and troubleshoot your products and services.
You don’t want them to refer customers to technical teams over minor troubleshooting issues.
Appreciate and Reward Your Customer Service Reps
Customers put support agents through a lot. Some agents are insulted, belittled, and yelled at all day long.
They essentially take hits for the company. The least you could do is show them their work matters by recognizing their efforts through rewards and appreciation. That way, they’ll take subsequent hits knowing they want to achieve something and that the people that matter recognize their work. You can reward hardworking customer service reps by offering more paid time off and verbal appreciation in front of coworkers.
Maintain a Healthy Working Environment
A healthy workplace boosts performance and job satisfaction. You don’t want frustrated customer service agents talking to your already frustrated customers. So, take steps in ensuring that your workplace lacks tensions, distrust, and collaboration problems.
Personalize Your Customer Care
According to a PwC study released in 2018, 75% of global respondents said they prefer interacting with real people more, even as technology continues to improve. For consumers in the US, that number is 82%.
The study shows that consumers want to feel like more than just ticket and reference numbers. They get turned off when they’re not being treated as people.
So, make sure your customer service reps treat people as people. You should start by manning real people in your customer service centers and reduce the number of bots that greet customers.
Use data like their names, birthdays, and even interests and hobbies. But you should only use the data that they provide.
Your customer service reps can go as far as asking them what plans they have for their birthday if it’s close.
Consider Outsourcing Your Customer Service
You can significantly improve your company’s customer service by outsourcing it to an agency.
This approach offers lots of advantages because you’ll be handing your customers over to more seasoned professionals.
Agencies have been in the game longer than you and understand the art and science of dealing with consumer complaints and inquiries.
That said, you have to exhaust your options. You may want to keep your customer service in-house if you deal with a highly technical product. That’s because you’ll want staff that have intimate knowledge about your products and services.
But if those products don’t come with a steep learning curve and you don’t have the budget for an in-house team, an agency is the way to go.
Continue Growing Your Business With Quality Customer Support
Remember to always provide your customer service reps with the right tools and adequate training. Treat your customers like humans and always provide prompt solutions. When you keep your consumers happy, your brand won’t run out of buyers.