Employers look for critical thinking and problem solving skills in most of their hires.
But when it comes to customer service staff, some employers aren't nearly as keen about hiring workers with proven problem solving abilities. The rationale is that call center workers who are independent thinkers find it difficult to follow standard processes and run the risk of exceeding their operational authority.
In reality, the best customer service employees are usually those who are most skilled at problem solving. Working within operational parameters, they rely on their problem solving abilities to resolve customer service problems without involving supervisors or company managers.
The good news for business owners is that problem solving is a learned skill set. By incorporating problem solving skills into your customer service training program, you can dramatically improve call center efficiency and productivity. Here are some of the problem solving tools you can use to improve customer service in your company.
- Assess the need. Problem solving begins with a needs assessment. Your customer service staff members have to understand the importance of accurate needs identification before they begin offering remedies. In some cases, a customer's perceived need can actually be an opportunity for an "up sell" or a conversation that educates the customer about the use of the product.
- Establish facts. Hard facts are essential in resolving problems, especially when you're dealing with a technology-based product or service. Customers tend to skip over numbers and other facts – but your call center employees should be trained to slow down the conversation and use a detail-based approach for determining the scope of the problem.
- Determine urgency. Some customer service problems are more urgent than others. Your customers should never feel like your company is ignoring them, but customer service reps should be trained to employ a "triage" process in their problem solving routines.
- Suggest remedies. Options empower customers and give them a larger role in the problem solving process. Agents who are trained to make suggestions are generally more successful at resolving customer problems than those who are trained to deliver one-size-fits-all remedies.
- Execute follow-up. Customer service problems frequently require follow-up from your customer service team. Educate your staff about proper follow-up procedures and implement accountability mechanisms for managers.