If you’re looking to build out your customer support team and hone in on their overall quality, there are several skills that your agents need to have.
High-quality support does not look the same for every company, yet some common areas should typically score high when reviewing your support agents.
It’s no surprise that empathy is a foundational skill for every support agent. When they can communicate empathy, it shows that your team members can connect with your customers. It ultimately dictates how well their interactions are received.
Under empathy, you can also fold tone of voice. It’s crucial that your team member not only follows your internal guidelines. They also need to understand how the customer likes to be addressed.
Mirroring is a well-known tactic to make others like us. It’s a basic human behaviour that we learn from the moment we are born. Training your agents on implementing mirroring during their work will result in more cooperative customers.
How well can your agent guide customers to the answer they need? It’s an essential skill your team needs to have in their toolbox. Compare the following replies:
“If you go to page X, click the button, and it will resolve your issue.”
“In your menu, navigate to the ‘Page X’ item. When you click on that item, Page X will appear. You will see [name two things that stand out] there, as well as a green button that says ‘Save’. Can you please click that button? It will resolve your problem.”
Yes, the second reply requires a bit more typing. It also takes out all the guesswork of where to locate Page X and what the recipient can expect to see. Naming specific elements can be very helpful in guiding customers to their desired outcome.
Direction is preferably shown by being descriptive: what colours do you see, which elements are present, which specific steps does the user need to take? Not only does it guide your customer to the correct solution, but it also gives your agent a chance to spot problems along the way. If you have specified that the user should see a green button, but they reply saying their button is grey, it flags a problem early on in the process.
Another way of implementing direction is by numbered lists. Providing users with very concise and to the point steps gives them the type of hand-holding that makes them feel secure. It’s easier to go back to ‘point 4’ than it is to find what step you were on from a paragraph of text.
When I talk about internal processes, I refer to categorising appropriately, setting tier levels, correctly handling bug reports, leaving internal notes that follow a certain standard, and so on. It differs from team to team what the internal workflow is like, but everyone has them. And your support agents need to know how to navigate them properly.
These internal processes are not for the customers we work with. They’re meant for our product and marketing teams. They provide us with data points to analyse and use to improve our business. It’s easy to overlook this skill as vital for a support agent, but you have to remember that your support team is ideally situated to flag trends. Your team is not just there to help your customers; they’re there to act as a bridge between customers and the rest of the company.
Learning to follow internal processes is much like learning to drive a car, especially if you drive a manual. The first time you get into a car, your brain gets overwhelmed with having to simultaneously push pedals, turn the steering wheel, adjust gears, and look out for pedestrians. There are so many moving parts to learning how to drive a car. That’s why we have driving lessons; we drive under guidance until all the movements have become muscle memory. The same goes for following internal workflows.
Include ‘process’ in your quality scorecard. By tracking how well your team can follow guidelines, you will create a more solid pathway between your customers and the rest of your business.
What other skills do you believe should be in a support agent’s toolbox? I’d love to hear from you!