Customer Service Skills for The Pandemic and Beyond

You may have a great product, but that’s not enough! If you don’t provide excellent customer service, your customers will leave, skip  your ad, and contribute to negative word-of-mouth. Being recognized for superb customer service is already a demanding task and it has become exponentially harder during the COVID-19 crisis.

The business world is shaken. Companies have been forced into a digital-only way of business operations. The loyalty of your customers has been put to the test. Today, customers prefer purchasing products or services online rather than visiting physical stores, which also may be closed due to the rigorous lockdown measures. Thus, dramatic market fluctuations are not a surprise.  

You may have an estimate of the damages the pandemic has caused to your business. There may have even been moments when you were losing faith in overcoming complete business failure during these hard times. However, there is always a way out. Focusing on the development of a top-notch customer service strategy can help you come out of this horrifying crisis as a winner!

How can this be possible? Well, relationships between brands and customers are built on a strong emotional component. When you have established a strong emotional bond, the only thing left is to nurture positive interactions, even though pandemic-induced uncertainty requires you to redefine the way you approach your customers.

Outstanding customer support is not a myth! Here are the top customer service skills needed to build the trust necessary for quality bonding with your customers. Let’s dive in!

1. Patience and Calm Spirit

When you think about a customer service rep’s job, what first comes to mind? Customer requests can be a real challenge. There will be occasions when you will need to know how to deal with an angry customer or how to defend your company’s reputation due to a product failure. In any case, your support reps need to stay calm and focused on achieving your business goal.

Patience is an essential customer service skill needed to thrive in the chaotic customer-reporting industry. It is a must-have if you want your customers to feel heard and to decide to come back. They want you to be there for them even though their claims may be trivial or time-consuming. The only time that counts in these situations is the customers’ time. Otherwise, it won’t take long for them to switch to your competitor, who will be more than happy to listen to their doubts and issues.

2. Empathetic Customer Service

Empathy is a personality trait that enables us to step out of our own shoes for a second and observe an issue from another’s perspective. This new lens may make us disagree even more, however, it will help us better understand the other person’s behavior and intentions.

Since this trait can be learned, it has become a major trend in the customer service industry. It helps you better understand your customer’s desires and fears, thus allowing you to serve them better and increase your chances for higher revenue. As it enables you to better understand your customers’ issues, it has become the most wanted customer service skill during the pandemic. Empathetic customer service is a 2020 game-changer that reveals business dangers and boosts your customer satisfaction rate (CSAT).

3. Unflappable Personality

Stress-resistant support reps turn every difficulty into an opportunity. You certainly don’t want someone who will fight with customers and make the whole situation worse. The customer service rep is a highly responsible role. They have the closest connection with your customers and their obligation is to consistently present your brand in the best light. However, most customer problems occur in this department too.

Having a clear head in a time of internal and external crises is quite a goal. Nonetheless, it can be reached if you hire staff with a thick skin and provide the additional training to help them better adapt to situations that are characteristic of your organization.

Additionally, there will likely be an event for which you don’t have an established reaction procedure, which will make your reps feel like they’re navigating uncharted territory. However, an agent rockstar should have the customer service skills to solve even these unprecedented problems quickly.

Top tier reps will come up with a new script based on their successful new experiences and will motivate the whole team. Did you hire someone that satisfies this criteria? If not, you may want to reconsider who you’re relying on to represent your company.

4. Being Attentive

This customer service skill is the easiest to gain yet it’s the most costly if overlooked. To be successful, you just need to pay full attention to customers’ needs and address their problems in the best way possible. The most recent Employee Engagement Trends Report revealed that support reps are the least engaged compared to other employees, yet they have the highest impact on customer engagement and CSAT.

Your customer service team has direct contact with your customers, which can either skyrocket your chances for business prosperity or cause you to have difficulties sustaining your business. Additionally, 43% of customers think that companies aren’t doing enough to keep their loyalty.

Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to customer feedback. Sometimes the source of their dissatisfaction won’t be that obvious. For example, they may say that it’s difficult to find  your AI chatbot, but they won’t specifically recommend improving your chatbot appearance. Thus, it is your responsibility to pay attention to the details in their claims and start working on your service improvement right away.

5. Precise Time Management

Time is more expensive in the customer service industry. One unanswered question or long waiting period can cost you an existing customer and, if they share their experience with others, many potential customers as well. A CISION study found that 83% of customers will leave their shopping cart or make a purchase somewhere else if they haven’t received help within 5 minutes.

Thus, effective time management is a crucial customer service skill if you want to exceed expectations and keep your customer base intact. Unfortunately, support reps are often drowning in hundreds of requests, resulting in long wait times and causing the biggest backlog in your company.

In today’s digital age when it is so easy for your customers to contact you, this backlog can become even bigger, causing a lot of additional stress to your agents and lowering their productivity. However, new technology offers a digital solution too.

With customer support software, you and your customers can enjoy transparent conversations in real time. It enables streamlined processes where your support reps can have an insight into a customer’s history and request progress any time there is a need. This functionality provides a timely response with no question left unanswered.

6. Spreading Positivity

Simply put: your support reps can’t be grumpy individuals with a lack of social skills. Instead, the ideal rep should be a cheerful people-person that smiles and spreads joy throughout their interactions. During the pandemic when customers are full of grievance and anger, this cheery disposition has shown to be a much-needed customer service skill.

Don’t hesitate to explore your limits. For instance, Zappos has established a hotline for their agents to discuss everyday life with their customers. These conversations last as long as 40 minutes! You may also find other ways to show your customers how much they mean to you.

7.Getting the Job Done

Customer support is not a sales department. However, your visitors may ask for additional information about a product that they intend to buy. Thus, besides clear communication, persuasion techniques and a closer personality are customer service skills you should consider during your next recruitment period!

10. Proactive Reaching Out

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way companies develop and implement their marketing strategies. Instead of overwhelming troubled customers with sales pitches, many companies started asking customers a simple, “How are you today?” This question may sound generic, but it makes a big difference for customers all around the world these days. Many of your customers have lost their jobs or businesses, so they may not want to hear about spending money on non-essential items.

For instance, they won’t jump at the chance to buy a fancy suit if their conference is canceled. However, they appreciate a message from a suit company letting them know that they still exist and that they will be there when the crisis is over. A lack of customer requests doesn’t signal less work, instead, it suggests a need for more proactive messaging to save the customers you have worked so hard to get.

11. Tech-Savvy Customer Service Reps

The need for digital solutions leads to a higher demand for tech-based customer service skills. Your support rockstar needs to be a tech-savvy individual too. They should be comfortable with using computers, chats, and any other new  tech discoveries.

During the pandemic when all companies are shifting to remote work, knowing how to use your software should become the main job requirement. Perhaps most importantly, they should be willing to learn how to use your customer support software and be prepared for any additional training related to program updates, etc. We live in a fast-paced world that requires quick adaptation. Are your reps prepared enough?

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