Customer support is often not as simple as it seems.
And being good at providing customer support takes a lot of work. After all, as a support rep, you’ll be thrown into many different kinds of situations.
Today, we’ll break down the top customer support skills you’ll need to wow your customers and increase the efficiency of your support team.
Customer Support vs Customer Service
First, we think it’s important to discuss the differences between customer support and customer service.
After all, both terms are often used interchangeably despite their differences.
Customer Service refers to a set of best practices whose goal is to make sure that every interaction between a customer and a business is pleasant and surpasses expectations.
On the other hand, Customer Support refers to the practice of assisting customers that might need additional assistance compared to most customers.
While customer service caters to all of your customers, not all of your customers require customer support.
The confusion between these two terms stems from the fact that providing good customer support requires many customer service skills.
Want to learn more? Read our in-depth article on the differences between customer support and customer service.
Must-have Customer Support Skills
Keeping in mind the definitions we just discussed, some of these skills could also be considered customer service skills.
Here are 10 Must-Have Customer Support Skills your team should have:
- sales skills
- Use of Positive Language
- Great Comprehensive Skills
- Time Management
- Be Aware of your Team’s Goals
- Mastery of the Product
- Make decisions based on data
Without further ado, it’s time to break down the must-have customer support skills.
Empathy is incredibly important when providing customer support. After all, you wouldn’t want to come off as fake to your customers.
You’d also want to be able to relate to your customer’s needs and potential frustrations.
A good way to work on these skills is to remember the last few times you had to contact the customer support department of another company.
How did you feel when you ran into your issue? How did you feel after realizing you had to contact customer support to solve your issue?
Remember how you felt during these situations when interacting with customers.
We’ve written plenty about how customer support can be a sales channel.
As a result, being able to identify upsell opportunities can turn you into the money-making star that your team needs.
However, remember that not every support request needs to turn into a sale. Learn how to read the room and don’t try to offer an upsell to a customer that might be angry or frustrated.
Remember to offer valuable solutions that your customers will be happy to pay for, do not push a sale for the sake of pushing a sale.
Like we mentioned early, as part of a customer support team, you will be thrown into a lot of different situations.
The ability to effectively think on your feet will be incredibly valuable.
Try to establish a workflow for working on unknown issues. That way you will never be caught unprepared.
Use of Positive Language
Thoughtful use of positive language can heavily influence the way a customer feels about their support experience.
And we’re not just talking about polite pleasantries and small talk. The use of positive language can be much more impactful.
For example, let’s say you’re dealing with a customer that has to ship back a product for a replacement. Here’s how you could use positive language to help the customer feel better about their support experience.
Non-Positive Language: “Unfortunately, you will have to ship us your faulty product and we’ll have to send you a new one from our warehouse. The process might take up to a week. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Positive Language: “We are happy to help you in solving this issue as quickly and easily as possible. I will send you a pre-paid shipping slip for you to send us your product. I’ve also put in a priority order to have a replacement shipped to you at no cost within a week.”
See? Using positive language such as “quick”, “easy”, “no cost” and “priority” can re-frame the situation for the customer.
They are now more likely to feel taken care of rather than inconvenienced by your product.
This one is self-explanatory. When working in any kind of Customer Support job, patience is key.
Not only due to rude or angry customer, but also due to customers that might not even know the details of the issue they are running into.
As a result, you might have to spend extra time with some customers just to figure out what their issue is in the first place.
Remember though to balance your patience with efficiency. After all, you would not want to spend several hours dealing with an issue that can be solved in 10 minutes.
Great Comprehensive Skills
On a previous decade, we’d say listening skills are key. But with the rise in popularity of email and live chat support tools, overall comprehensive skills have taken their place.
Knowing how to pick up on key specifics about your customer’s issue can be the difference between spending 5 minutes or an hour on a single support ticket.
These previous two skills are closely related to time management. Like we mentioned, you do not want to spend more time than necessary on a support ticket.
After all, time might be the most precious result of many customer support teams.
A good way to get started with time management is to track how much time you’re spending on each task of your tasks and identify areas of improvement.
Be Aware of your Team’s Goals
We’ve talked about customer support KPI’s before and why your team should be tracking them.
The objective of these KPI’s is to give your team insight into the key metrics that align with your team goals.
Is your team focused on high customer satisfaction scores? Low response times? Low time per ticket?
Knowing the answer to these questions will allow you to act within the context of your team’s goals and increase the efficiency of your work.
Mastery of the Product
Another no-brainer on our list, being an expert about your product or service is key to providing great customer support. Furthermore, it can help you solve more issues faster too.
You might think that the honing of this skill ends with your company training, but you can always go further.
A great way to fully understand your product is to understand how your customers are using the product. When talking to customers who have peculiar support issues, do not hesitate to ask more questions just to get a better understanding of their product use-case.
This way, when you run into future similar issues, you’ll now have a deeper understanding of what the customer is trying to accomplish in their specific use-case.
Make decisions based on data
Customer Support is becoming much more data-oriented with every passing year.
You can now use customer data to make multiple support decisions that will optimize your support operations.
For example, when providing support via phone, you can flag customers who just called recently and are calling again as priority customers. After all, this might mean the solution you originally provided did not work or they ran into a second issue. So, it is key to make sure their second interaction does not involve long hold times as they might be frustrated with having to call back.
We could go on with more customer support skills that can help your efforts. After all, customer support can be implemented in many different ways depending on the needs of your company.
If you’re eager to improve your customer support skills even further, you can read our guide on the 10 best customer support best practices to implement in 2020.