Frontline reps require a wide range of customer service skills if they are going to deliver Hero-ClassTM customer service.
Like a father with his children, I don’t like to play favorites, but at some point, I must acknowledge that one skill is more important than all of the others.
That skill is communication.
Powerful, effective communication is foundational; without it, few other aspects of a customer’s experience will matter. Communication is the glue that keeps customer experiences from falling apart.Communication is the glue that keeps customer experiences from falling apart. Click To Tweet
Communication is integral to every customer experience. Even something that seems noncommunication-centered, like an online order, has many layers of communication attached to it. From the language on the website to the confirmation message at checkout to the email that is sent once the order is placed, communication plays a crucial role in even an automated experience such as this one.
Communication is at the heart of the organization’s relationship with itself, with it’s external stakeholders, and, of course, with it’s customers. At the organizational level, communication is a strategic imperative that should be aligned with goals and, whenever possible, carefully crafted to produce maximum impact.
On the front lines, it is a skill that must be trained and mastered.
As I wrote in Be Your Customer’s Hero, great customer communication may start with the lessons Grandma taught you — please, thank you, sir, ma’am and the like — but they do not end there.
Good communication skills include an understanding of psychology and how to deliver the right message at the right time. They include the ability to ask effective questions, to deescalate anger, and to reassure without the ability to actually assure results.
When working with teams on communication skills, it is important to focus on their ability to deliver communication that sets a positive tone and that helps prevent common service triggers from being pulled.
Furthermore, it is crucial that frontline reps understand how to interpret the communication of others.
They need to understand how to read body language, how to process tone, and how to get to the meaning behind the words. Often what customers say is not what they really want to say. Often customers hide their meaning, and effective communicators can see that happening and dig deeper to find out what the customer is actually trying to communicate.
Great customer communication starts when you hire the right customer service rep for the job, it accelerates when you train that rep on the communication skills they need to succeed, and it ends when… well, it never ends.
There’s virtually no limit to how much you can work on improving communication skills for your team. It is an area of focus and training which will always produce positive results.
Communication is not everything in customer experience, but it is the most important thing. Make sure your team has the tools it needs to succeed.
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.