5 Reasons You Should Know Your Customer Service Agents Better

Remember that television show The Newlywed Game, where couples were asked about their partner to find out how well they knew each other? It was a big hit that showed how importantand difficultit is to really know the people close to you. The same can be said for customer service agents.

Brands put a great deal of faith into customer service agents, entrusting them with the company’s reputation. And yet, too often those agents are treated like expendable pieces in an ever-shifting puzzle. The truth is, knowing your customer service agents is just as important as knowing your customers. The better you know your agents, the more efficiently you can position them to serve your customers in extraordinary ways. Just like knowledge of your partner can lead to a long and happy marriage, knowing your agents better will lead to more fulfilling employment for them, less cost for the company, and more satisfied customers. So here are 5 reasons you should know your customer service agents better.

1) Agents are ½ of customer experience

Everyone seems to be talking about customer experience these days, and that’s a good thing. It’s important to focus on the customer and how they feel while interacting with a brand, especially given the fact that customers make decisions based on emotions rather than logic.

But since customer service is a huge part of customer experience, it’s vital to remember that agents are ½ of customer experience. They are the ones who are responsible for how the customer feels. In fact, one might argue that customer service agents have more influence on customer experience than the C-Suite or the actual product. And since most companies are now competing on customer experience rather than product or price, the company with the best customer service agents wins. Is that you? You won’t know unless you know who your agents really are.

Key point: Customer service agents are directly responsible for customers’ positive or negative emotions. Make sure you have optimistic agents with great communication skills.

2) Agents know your customers best

Every company needs a plan and typically these come from the top down. Management makes the decisions that other employees follow. Thus it has been since the beginning of business. The chain of command is important for organizational reasons, but if management doesn’t keep close tabs on what’s happening with customers on a daily basis, they’ll soon lose touch with the actual needs of the company.

That’s where agents come in. Nobody knows your customers better than the agents who interact with them daily. It’s important that you trust your agents to direct the daily interactions between your brand and your customers, and that they have the freedom to be flexible and responsive to the actual needs of the customers, not just the business plan. Why should you risk giving them that freedom? Because you know them well enough to trust them.

Key point: It’s vital to trust your customer service agents enough to give them the freedom to respond personally to customers in real-time.

3) Agents have important skills and interests

Do I even need to say it? Agents are people too. Treating them like individuals will not only raise company morale, it can also have huge effects on the quality of your customer service. Because customers are also people, and as they increasingly demand human connections and tailored service, the skills and interests of your customer service agents are your greatest asset.

The fact is, every customer service agent is poised to make real human connections with customers based on shared interests, experience, or knowledge of a particular problem. Again, so much depends on whether or not you trust your agents enough to give them the flexibility to go off-script. But the more you know about your agents, the better positioned you are to connect them with customers they’ll really relate to. That will improve customer service and customer experience.

Key point: Knowing the skills and interests of your customer service agents and encouraging them to relate to customers will help create the human connections customers crave.

4) Agents are expensive

One practical aspect of why you should know your customer service agents better is that they are expensive to replace. When you add up salary, training and other expenses, the turnover cost for one front-line employee is $10,000 to $15,000. So each and every customer service agent is an investment. The more you lose the more you pay. If only you could know ahead of time which agents would be satisfied with their position and excel at their jobs, and which were more likely to leave.

And that’s the thing: you can get a better handle on the future behavior of your agents if you get to know them at the very beginning. Knowing more about prospective agents’ personalities will tell you whether or not they’re cut out for the job. And if not, you’re better off not hiring them in the first place, because you’ll end up paying for them one way or another.

Key point: Get to know prospective employees so you can judge whether they have the necessary skills to be a great customer service agent.

5) Agents make connections

Customer experience is about customer emotions and that means customers want to feel connected to the brands they use. Customer service agents are the employees who are best equipped to make these connections because they are the ones who interact with customers most often. Agents know your customers and their concerns and by the very nature of their job they are in a position to be the human contact points that give your brand a friendly persona.

Again, this involves trust. Do you trust your agents enough to allow them to make real connections with customers? If you can’t answer that question in the affirmative, you don’t know your agents well enough.

Key point: Customer service agents are perfectly positioned to make real connections with customers, which humanizes the brand and inspires positive emotions. This will increase loyalty and long-term spending.

Top agent traits

So you’ve decided to get to know your agents better. What should you be looking for? The ideal customer service agent has the following traits.

  • Great communication skills: Agents should be talented writers and speakers, able to convey ideas in clear, catchy ways.

  • Tuned-in and interested: The more wide-ranging the interests of your customer service agents, the more customers they’ll be able to relate to.

  • Empathetic: To really provide personalized customer service, agents need to be able to relate to customers in authentic ways.

  • A sense of humor: Humor is often a balm in customer service and when things go wrong, an agent needs to be able to laugh it off, without taking problems personally.

Bonus: See what T-Mobile looks for in the perfect customer service agent.

Knowing your agents is important, but it’s only one-third of the equation. Knowing your customers is equally important, but above all it’s necessary to know what to do with that knowledge once you have it. Routing incoming customer queries to the right agent based on language, knowledge or shared interests requires powerful social customer service software like Brand Embassy. We’d love to tell you more about how we can help you connect to your customers in innovative ways. Check out our website to learn more or request a free demo today.

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