In the first post in a five-part series, I stated that product knowledge is the number one skill needed for contact center agents to be their best. These skills and traits were determined via a survey of our own agents.
The second skill highly effective agents have is the ability to solve problems. Now this may seem obvious, but in fact, problem solving is both an art and a science that high-caliber agents thoroughly understand. Excellent problem solvers have similar traits, such as logical thought processes coupled with outstanding listening skills. Effective communication with the customer outlining appropriate steps is also part of the make-up of a good problem solver.
However, the more important aspect of good problem solving is creative thinking. When coupled with empowerment to make decisions, good problem solvers can perform at their peak. Take Zappos, for example. Everyone on their staff is empowered to make the decision they think is best for the customer…period. The result is excellence in customer service rarely seen in today’s environment.
Three Tips for Success:
- Make sure agents are empowered to take immediate action.
- Ensure that your hiring practices include questions that help you determine the candidate’s problem solving capabilities.
- If escalations are necessary, ensure that they can be done while the customer is engaged. Solving a problem is always good, but solving a problem within the first customer interaction is best.
Agents Weigh In
I had a client who had a bad leak in her apartment. I explained to her how sorry I was about the situation and was there anything I can do to make the situation better. She informed me that her parents were coming in town, and did not want them to have to deal with the issue. So I booked a hotel close by for her and her parents while we took care of the leak issue over the weekend. Then I gave her and her family a $100 gift card to take her parents out for dinner. The best part for me was the she renewed her lease for another year and agreed to pay the small increase. I feel the customer service I provided helped her make the decision to renew.