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Top Traits for Excellent Customer Service: Product Knowledge

In an earlier post, I detailed how exceptional customer service requires high-caliber agents. To determine the skills and traits agents know are most important for delivering excellent service, we surveyed our own high-caliber agents for their thoughts. In this first post in a five-part series, I cover the skill that our agents deemed the most important.

The number one skill a highly effective agent requires to perform to their best ability is knowledge of the client’s product or service. That makes training a high priority and puts the responsibility squarely in the court of any call center organization. Training is key, and open and honest communication about the product or service is critical, particularly in an outsourced call center.

When devising a strategy for knowledge transfer, it is important to engage  subject matter experts in addition to providing documentation. High-caliber agents instinctively understand the nuances of excellent customer interactions, and desire to understand details of any product or service in order to assist customers with issues that might arise. When hiring or training high-caliber call center agents, consider the following tips for success:

Three Tips for Success:

  1. Devise a plan for ongoing knowledge transfer and updates – services and products change, so ensure your front line is informed. Involving agents in beta tests is also a great way to provide knowledge transfer.
  2. Develop a repository for data that it is easily updatable and accessible. Using cloud technology is critical to providing information across boundaries.
  3. Train with both the knowledge and expected customer experience outcome in mind. Providing knowledge is fine, but providing scenarios and case use will improve customer service.

Agents Weigh In

I had a gentleman call extremely angry that the prices of the airfare kept going up as he was booking–he was going to cancel [his credit card]. I explained the system that the airlines used in their fares. That didn’t make him happy. I also explained the difference in what the airlines were going through. I told him about an article I read in the paper that morning regarding smaller airlines coming in and cutting fares and that therefore the larger airlines couldn’t compete. So, I explained that the larger airlines had to cut back on the number of flights they flew in order to compete and stay in business. I said to him, “If you could fly on Airline A for $200 less than Airline B, which fare would you take?” There was dead silence. We continued to talk about the difference in airlines, service and cutbacks. I offered to book the flight for him and to find him the best fares for the shortest amount of time. I waived our booking fee as a gesture of good will.

He thanked me very much for taking the time to explain different situations to him and thanked me for getting him a great flight.


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