5 Ways to Bolster Online Customer Service Skills

Posted on 23 Sep 2016

When supporting customers via a Zendesk Help Center, fleshing out your knowledge base and encouraging customer-to-customer interaction via forums goes a long way toward solving basic issues and creating satisfied site visitors. The knowledge base can't do everything, though, and some customers will always need further assistance, which is why good customer service skills are a requirement for any online business. While the skills necessary for high-quality online customer service are similar to those you might find in a call center or face-to-face environment, online CSRs do have to consider some special requirements.

1. Work on Written Communication Skills

Much of the customer support offered online is handled via text, whether in email, forum posts or chat boxes. Online customer service representatives must be able to communicate complex ideas in easy-to-understand written sentences. While grammar is important for clarity, context and content are both more important than knowing where every comma goes. Online CSRs should:

  • Communicate in complete sentences.
  • Avoid long, drawn out explanations unless completely necessary.
  • Avoid abbreviations, slang or regional phrases when dealing with non-regional audiences
  • Use the language of the customer whenever possible

2. Use Templates Properly

Templates are a critical aspect of efficient customer service processes, but you must use them correctly. Zendesk calls these partially pre-written texts macros and recommends that they are used as a guide instead of a hard rule. At the minimum, templates should be personalized with names and appropriate details, because you want customers to feel like they are talking to another human being. Customer service reps can copy and paste answers to common questions or invite users to visit the knowledge base, but they should also always be willing to offer more personalized assistance if it is desired.

3. Be Personable in Any Interaction

Being human means having a personality. While online customer service staff can't engage in lengthy conversations about off-topic matters, they can inject their own voice into the exchange. If someone reaches out via email or chat to two different representatives within your company, they shouldn't get the impression that they are talking to the same person. Online reps should still engage in niceties such as greeting the customer, saying please and thank you, and ending the communication with an appropriate sign off such as "Have a great day" or "Good night."

4. Multitask With Care

Multitasking is often required for customer service staff to get everything done, especially in the realm of chat support. Just make sure you multitask with care. At a minimum, a mistake could confuse one or more customers. A worse case scenario might include disclosing confidential information to the wrong party because of confusion with chat windows.

5. Respond Promptly to Requests

Organization and timeliness are two critical customer service skills that often get overlooked, and they are even more important online. The customer is not in front of you, and that can make him or her nervous about the length of time it takes to get an answer. Responding to requests promptly or keeping customers updated about progress toward a solution or answer helps increase trust and results in a more satisfactory experience for the user.

Strong customer service skills translate to positive, satisfactory customer service interactions. Those, in turn, translate to better word-of-mouth marketing, increased customer loyalty and retention, and increase sales and revenue.

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