People are great, beautiful, and exciting. But if you work in customer service, you would know what we mean when we say these same people can also be frustrating. Imagine receiving and managing complaints, rejection, and sometimes insults, daily. It’s a tougher job than most people assume.
The role of a customer service manager is important as it often determines business success. The fact that 73% of customers say they fall in love with a brand based on the friendliness of a customer service representative further emphasizes this point.
But how can you be friendly in the middle of stress? How do you turn an angry customer into a returning, loyal customer? All of these will largely depend on your skills as a customer service manager and the tools you have at your disposal. This article is about those skills.
By the way, being a customer service executive is not the same as being a customer service manager. The latter is more demanding as it comes with some additional leadership responsibilities.
A customer service manager is someone tasked with the responsibility of leading the customer service team. They provide their team with all they need to deliver an excellent customer experience to current and potential customers.
To be a successful customer service manager, you should be able to combine interpersonal and technical skills. You need both to successfully run a contact center. You are a customer representative, a leader, and a manager all in one.
Here are important skills you need to succeed in the highly demanding job of a Customer Service Manager:
A PwC study showed that “59% of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience”. In other words, most companies leave empathy out of their customer service, and there are bound to be consequences.
Empathy is a crucial customer service skill that every customer service manager must possess. While we have established that customers can be frustrating, it takes a high level of empathy to truly understand them.
But it’s not just customers you need to be empathetic too. Your team can use some of that empathy in your day-to-day interaction with them.
Every manager should possess this skill, regardless of their field. You are a leader, and your entire team looks up to you. You must always motivate your team and play to everyone’s strengths.
The people management skills you possess comes in handy here. As a leader, your attitude towards your team influences their attitude and work environment. When your team needs help, you should be there to lend a hand. You create a sense of belonging in your customer service team when you trust and respect them.
Another way you exhibit leadership skills as a customer service manager is by ensuring your team constantly gets the training they deserve. You want them to succeed. Your success depends on theirs, so their training has to be a priority to you.
A good customer service manager needs to be an effective communicator. And this covers all forms of communication, including verbal and nonverbal.
The bulk of your work in customer service is communication – communicate with customers, your team, and your supervisor or line manager. Hence, you have to hone your communication skills to succeed in this role.
It’s important to note that communication is a two-way process – sending (encoding) and receiving (decoding). Your ability to send is as important as your ability to receive.
As a customer service manager, you need to stay on top of your game by periodically tracking your team’s performance.
It’s essential to track your team’s performance so you can assess and improve the quality of customer service provided. Metrics such as happiness score and contact ratio provide an overview of how each customer service rep is performing whereas agent-based metrics like response time and resolution time provide insight into how each rep is performing.
NotchCX is packed with tools and features that allow you to effectively manage your team’s performance per time.
No matter how hard your team tries, some situations will eventually be escalated to you and you need your experience and problem-solving skills to resolve them. A common example is when a customer makes that dreaded demand “I need to talk to your manager” question.
Are you even a customer service manager if you don’t encounter ‘problems’ every day? Some problems are familiar, others will hit differently. But what makes you stand out is how well you’re able to manage and resolve these problems.
A great way to improve your problem-solving skill is to ask people around you to share some of the challenges they are facing with you. Your attempt to help proffer solutions to such problems helps you sharpen your problem-solving ability in your job as a customer service manager.
These days, what differentiates two competing brands with the same quality products is the quality of their customer service. As a result, the ability to pick calls and simply respond to emails is no longer enough – you need to be an active part of the business strategy.
You need to develop a comprehensive customer service strategy with a focus on customer retention, along with a detailed plan on how to deliver a great customer experience. You should be able to strategically turn customer comments and complaints into insights that would help develop the business.
Another important skill you need as a customer service manager is diplomacy. Diplomacy in your relationship with both customers and your team; but especially customers.
As a customer service manager, you should be able to constantly employ diplomacy and tactfulness, especially when dealing with sensitive or tricky situations. Some exchanges will require you to deliver tough feedback or unwanted news. It is what it is; the job has to be done, but it has to be done with diplomacy.
Diplomacy is an art. It’s about dealing with people and settling issues sensitively and tactfully. Guess who the masters of diplomacy are – politicians. So, to develop your diplomacy skills, try studying some of your favourite politicians, especially during the electioneering period. See how they try their best to please everyone and carry them along in their choice of words and actions. You’ll learn a thing or two.
Once upon a time, being tech savvy was some unique attribute of a selected few – not anymore. Almost every modern job requires some level of tech-savviness, including customer service. Your job will require you to work with software and hardware tools to help you do more and succeed faster.
As a customer service manager, you want to lead by example by being competent with technology tools that improve your team’s productivity. You also want to be so good at it, that you can effortlessly train new staff. But more importantly, you don’t want to be the ‘rigid manager’ who still does things the old way because “that’s how it has always been done”. Such leaders draw their team and company back.
A great example of this phenomenon is using spreadsheets in 2022. Why?
CRM tools like NotchCX exist to solve the manual and mundane problems that come with using spreadsheets, increase team productivity, boost customer satisfaction, and improve company growth. So why stick to spreadsheets?
You are going to need patience, a lot of it, if you will succeed in this role. It will help come in handy as you relate with both customers and your team of customer service representatives.
Patience and communication skills work together most times as customers can tell from your choice of words or tone that you’re getting frustrated, and that is typically a turn-off. 42% of customers who call a company are laying a complaint or opt-out of their service. In other words, 4 in every 10 calls from customers are from customers that are most likely angry or dissatisfied. You’re going to need all the patience you can get.
Your role as a manager also requires that you train new staff for what’s expected of them, and to familiarize them with the various tools they will be working with. Conducting training like this is one other area where your patience may be tested as learning speed varies from person to person (though everyone is a fast learner in their resume).
Emotional intelligence refers to a collection of skills that helps one to recognize, understand and manage emotions. While putting all the above-mentioned skills to work, you can recognize, understand and influence others’ emotions.
For you to harness emotional intelligence, you need to focus on four areas. When you and your team master them, you’ll be able to make an emotional connection with every customer, regardless of what they’re feeling. The four areas include:
All of these four key areas are interconnected as they work together to help you become an emotionally intelligent customer service manager.
It’s no easy task being a customer service manager. Nonetheless, customer service managers have the unique opportunity to represent both their customers and their team members. Combine the above-listed skills with the right attitude and prowess, and success is all yours!
One other thing you will need is the right tool to help maximize these skills of yours. Skills are great, but it’s common knowledge that customer service managers can barely do anything without a good CRM these days. Why you should check out NotchCX, an all-in-one CRM that not only eases your work in customer service but helps you manage your team effectively as a manager.
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