Customer Service Skills for User Support Agents

Customer Service Skills
for User Support Agents
Chapter 3
Communication and interpersonal skills are important
for help desk and user support agents to achieve
client satisfaction and excellent customer service
Communication and interpersonal skills are often
more challenging for new user support workers to
learn than technical skills
Communication and interpersonal skills are more
difficult to measure and evaluate
Communication and interpersonal skills impact the
ability to effectively and efficiently solve the
customer problem and satisfy the customer
Communication and Customer
Service Skills
Communication involves listening and
Communication may be 2-way interaction:
Face to face
Communication may be 1-way interaction:
Web site
Effective listening requires:
• Hearing or reading and understanding the
customer problem
Responding requires reflecting the
understanding of the problem through a
spoken or written response
Customer Service Excellence
A dissatisfied customer will result in:
• Lengthy and costly incidents
• More resources and free products
• Repeated callbacks or help desk contacts
• Complaints and ill-will among clients
• Poor public relations and lost sales
• Rerouting of incidents to higher level support
and management
Product returns
Customer Service Ethic
Support staff members:
Provide clients with the information, service or solution
they need, if it can reasonably be done
Explain what can be done if the clients’ problem
cannot be resolved
Treat clients and potential clients with respect
Communicate to the client:
• Hold times
• Response times ( service, e-mail, resolution)
Return phone calls or e-mail when promised
regardless of the status
Listen Carefully
Listen before you speak!
• Listen to the full description of the problem
• Listen to or observe the language the user
uses to describe the problem
• Novice or experienced
• Target your language slightly below
• Listen to how the user describes the problem
• Tone of voice
• Anger or frustration
• Distracted or in a hurry
Shhh! Listen, Don’t Just Hear
Excerpt from
Article written by Lillian D. Bjorseth:
The irony is that listening is the most used communication skill
and the least taught. It is, by far, the most valuable
communication skill for management and employees alike.
Hearing is the first in a six-step hierarchical listening
process i.e., all six must be done for the message to be
received the way the sender wants it to be. "Hearing" means
only that your ears are absorbing sound waves.
Listening, on the other hand, also involves interpreting,
evaluating, understanding, responding and remembering!
That’s a lot to keep in mind when irate customers are loudly
telling you what went wrong, you’re participating in yet another
meeting (when you would rather be returning phone calls) , or
you’re listening to a boring - to you - speaker. The following
suggestions can help you listen better:
Shhh! Listen, Don’t Just Hear cont…
Control your urge to speak. Remember the old folk saying:God gave us two ears
and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we talk.
Zig Ziglar put it another way when he said that when you talk, you say something you
already know, and when you listen, you find out what someone else knows. I add to
that "what someone else needs and wants." How can we possibly make a sale or
provide top-quality customer service when we don’t know what the customer wants
and needs?
* Be receptive. Be objective and willing to hear what someone else has to say.
Guard against preconceived notions based on race, sex, age or accent. Our mind
and a parachute have something in common:they only work when open.
* Empathize. Strive to understand, as though you were in the person’s shoes. Listen
to what people are actually saying, not to what you think they should be saying.
Listen to the words and the vocal tone and watch the body language, if you are
having a face-to-face conversation. To be an effective listener, you have to see the
world through another’s eyes, to take the time to think how they are thinking.
* Take notes. Write down what people are saying as they are saying it to make sure
you capture the right words. This is especially helpful if you are a visual learner and
need notes to reinforce your memory. Also, record the speaker’s tone and body
language to refine your interpretation as you review your notes.
* Eliminate distractions. Very few people - if any - can effectively do two things at
one time. While on the phone or talking to an employee, don’t read materials on your
desk, daydream or think about what is going on outside your window. Put on blinders
and concentrate on the task at hand!
Build Understanding
Empathy – is an understanding of and identification with
another’s situation, thoughts and feelings
Restate the user’s problem in your own words
Does the user agree with your expression of the problem?
Look for the driving reasons behind the user’s request and
Visualize the user as a person, not a report
Mental image
Inclusive language (we and us)
Respond Effectively
 All
aspects communicate
understanding: 3 key
aspects are:
•Use scripts appropriately
•Use tone and style effectively
First step in channeling an incident in a
positive direction
Sincerity, interest and enthusiasm
Your name
Company name
Eye contact
Thank you contributes to a positive first
Formal address unless invited to use first
A script is a prepared sequence of
questions and statements that cover
important parts of an incident
May include branches and decision points
Used for training tool
Used to direct flow for complex problems and keep
things on track
Should allow for deviation as necessary
FAQs and prepared responses
Let the user know you are reading or restate the
Tone and Style
How you communicate can be more important than what you communicate
Style communicates the companies image
Formal or informal
Casual or professional
Words account for 7% of the information a person receives in communication
• Body language is 55%
• Style and tone 38%
• Clear speech
• Speak slowly ( match the speed to the user’s proficiency level)
• Short sentences
• Positive phrases
• pauses
• Rising inflection
• Empty phrases
• Negative references
Successful Customer
Is the result of :
Using greetings, scripts, tone and style to
communicate a willingness to help,
regard for the client’s value
and the organization’s concern for customer
Effective skills in:
• Listening
• Reading
• Speaking
• Writing
Technically correct solutions