Vital Traits of Customer Service personnel

“Don’t be cocky. Don’t be flashy. There’s always someone better than you.” –Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

The quote is clear on what a person serving customers should not be! The truth is that customers will find someone better to serve them and another company to do business with. Given that the realm of customer service is much like a roller-coaster and unless the company has chosen well with respect to the traits of customer service personnel, this ‘ride’ can prove uphill and onerous for most.  The reality of customer service is that there could be one customer situation that you managed in the most efficient and speedy manner and feel elated and the next customer call could be rife with frustration and end up as unresolved. This often leaves the service personnel doubting their own capabilities if they are not characteristically used to managing this bumpy ride. It is role of the hiring team to hire for the actual traits of customer service – the traits that would hold them in good stead even when the going gets tough.

Every business knows that they cannot manage without a focused customer service team, irrespective of the size of the company. Even the smallest business would have at least one person who would perform this function – providing great customer service is the cornerstone of any company and one the best tools for customer retention. Ensure that when hiring you assess whether the person has the vital traits of customer service since skills can be taught and knowledge can be acquired. When your customer service team is up against an angry or frustrated customer they would need these vital traits in order to tide over the situation. Customers now are well connected at all times and one single instance of poor service or disappointment and an unmanaged customer experience will have them posting poor comments and also talking badly about your company while describing the experience they had. Take a good hard look at the kind of traits of customer service that exist in the market and the kind of traits that have proved most successful and choose your representatives wisely.

The front-line employees are the ones who interact with customers first. The manner in which they deal with customers can either make or ruin a business. Customers, when calling, assume and expect that they will be met with only the positive traits of customer service when speaking with these agents. The agents that have a handle on how to deal with all kinds of customers and situations, are the ones that can take the customer service levels to new heights. It’s all about the right traits of customer service personnel and the way a company manages them.

Customer retention can be expected only when customers are consistently engaged. Engagement begins or ends at the first point of contact – both in the digital world and a physical store. The greeting, the smile, tone of voice and the general enthusiasm of the customer service person or the store assistant are the factors that make people smile and remain customers for a longer time. We all know from our own experiences how we may have reacted when greeted by a cheery customer service person and also the annoyance felt when the person on the ‘other side’ was surly and apathetic. It’s not hard then to know which traits of customer service personnel customers prefer and why companies must pay close attention to these traits at the time of hiring. Positive traits improve the overall experience for customers and when they feel happy calling or visiting, they become less sensitive to pricing and are not averse to making some effort to do business with a company. The truth is that whether the first person who greets a customer is able to resolve the issue or not, customers still remain happy and positive if the agent or assistant makes them feel important and welcome – these are just the basic needs for all humans. Right! So looking at this from a customer’s point of view, some of the traits of customer service personnel are mentioned:

  • A cheerful and empathetic disposition and characteristic is extremely vital – not just because customers expect it but because without them it would be tough to work a single day in the customer service realm. Cheerful personnel help each other remain positive and upbeat too – thereby elevating the positivity in the work environment for everyone.
  • Being flexible and organized are super characteristics for any person working in this realm. An easy-going and adaptable nature would allow the customer service person to mould quickly depending on the situation and also efficiently negotiate different topics or new data without much trouble, reducing the effort a customer would need to exert to get their requirement addressed. An organized person in this realm would be able to maintain the relevant information gathered on a call and also be able to efficiently and speedily use the information of the company and offerings to answer queries and resolve problems for the customers.
  • One of the critical traits of customer service persons is being a good listener. Listening is about going beyond just the words and hearing the tone and pitch of voice and also the manner in which the customer is speaking. Listening actively would allow the customer service person to completely understand what the customer wishes to convey and therefore be able to provide a solution that would be closes to the customer’s expectation. Having this trait negates the need to rattle off the scripted text but rather use choice words and expressions that would put the customer at ease.
  • A required trait for customer service persons is patience and forbearance. There would be many occasions where the customer is completely vexed and would probably be unreasonable. At such times the customer service person is required to maintain composure and get the situation under control. The patience and self-control that the customer service person displays will soon enough have a calming effect on the customer, who then would be more willing to accept the solutions offered by the company.
  • Extremely crucial to customer service personnel is having great communication skills – this does not just include command over the English language, but also demeanour, body language and a pleasing voice. With most companies becoming ‘global’ their customers could be from any part of the world and hence many companies are looking for service personnel who understand and would be able to communicate in different languages. However, pleasantness, courtesy and having a calming effect are completely indispensable traits of customer service personnel.
  • Thorough knowledge of the company, the customer and the products will allow the customer service person to speedily address the queries / problems of customers. Speedy service is highly rated by customers and hence vital in customer service. With adequate knowledge a customer service person is able to pro-actively address potential problem situations before it gets out of control. Isn’t that the kind of service we prefer as customers too?
  • There is a famous quote that roughly translates to – say something to your customers even if you know that you currently don’t have the right answer. Customers feel like they are being ignored if there is no response. They would much rather you got back to them with some kind of answer. They are not expecting your company and its representatives to be perfect or know all the answers but they do deserve and expect that someone is listening and will revert with the relevant information.

The above mentioned traits of customer service personnel can easily be developed but the best people for customer service are those who are inherently friendly, positive, easy to converse with and have a helpful demeanour. Unfortunately most companies ignore these facts and recruit in haste and land up with bigger problems because their customers are frowning. It is often said – hire for attitude and train for skills. What does your company do?

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree