While it’s true that technical skills are very important, customer experience falters when employees lack the soft skills needed to effectively convey information to customers. Are soft skills more important than technical skills? Yes, I believe so. Organizations frequently allocate mass amounts of time and money into technical skills training, and forget about the more important soft skills training. Technical ability quickly loses value when employees can’t empathize with a customer’s situation, are unable to diagnose the core issue in a timely manner, or are incapable of adequately conveying information without using technical jargon. Employees with sub-standard communication skills will tarnish your brand experience.
Empathy is a Must-Have Skill for Service and Support
Conveying empathy is central to effectively building rapport. If a service or support agent is not being genuine, the customer’s experience will not be satisfactory. Soft skills training equips employees with the ability to genuinely express empathy and easily build rapport. Soft skills training teaches employees how to adequately verbalize concern without apologizing, and to focus on the core issues to deftly side-step emotional outbursts and defensive behavior. Customers need to know that their issue is a priority and that their happiness is important not only to the company, but to the individual agent. Exhibiting empathetic behavior is an ideal way to calm upset callers and quickly let them know that their issues have been heard and will be resolved.
Active Listening Expedites Issue Resolution
Quality soft skills training will include active listening techniques. No one likes to repeat information. When service and support agents actively listen, they decrease the likelihood of asking the same question twice, which makes the caller think they are not listening, and increase the probability that they will solve the customer issue correctly the first time. Active listening enables the employee to quickly pinpoint the cause of the customer’s issue and recommend appropriate solutions.
Soft skills training also encourages employees to use open and closed questions to expertly solicit the information needed to quickly answer questions and resolve issues. The use of open and closed questions combined with active listening, shows customers that their needs and wants have been heard and that nothing is being assumed by the employee.
Proactive Service and Support Increases Customer Loyalty
A fundamental element of world-class customer service and support is using soft skills training to teach your staff how to pro-actively seek out opportunities to add value and delight customers. Having genuine concern and empathy for callers, and actively listening to accurately determine the issues, will provide the vital information necessary to locate additional opportunities to serve and support. Soft skills training is an ideal way to increase customer loyalty and encourage repeat sales. When an employee seizes an opportunity to correctly match a customer’s want or need with an available product or service, customer satisfaction increases – as does the resulting revenue.
To provide great customer experience, customer service and support employees must possess adequate technical skills and excellent soft skills. Customers are more likely to forgive enthusiastic, empathetic employees who need to put them on hold to find the answers to their questions, than employees who are monotone and apathetic. How skilled are your employees?
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