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Customer Service Skills for User Support Agents

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1 Customer Service Skills for User Support Agents
CTS 217: Computer Training & Support CHAPTER 2 Customer Service Skills for User Support Agents

2 Chapter Objectives In this chapter, students will learn about:
The importance of communications skills and customer service relationships Reasons support agents listen and read carefully How agents build and communicate understanding Aspects of effective speaking and nonverbal communication How to develop a personal communication style

3 Chapter Objectives In this chapter, students will learn about:
Strategies for telephone communications How to develop an incident management strategy Understanding personality types and work styles Strategies for difficult clients Guidelines for client-friendly communications on support Web sites How to build excellent customer service

4 Introduction Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are often more challenging for new support workers to learn and use than technical or business skills! Users not satisfied with technical answers only Goal for every request: customer satisfaction and excellent customer service , F2F, chat, phone

5 Communication and CS Skills
Communication: 2-way process listening & responding 1-way: web sites and blogs A customer-service ethic an organization-wide philosophy shared by everyone viewpoint: client relationships and client satisfaction are the most important aspect of a business Need communication skills for top notch CS Hear and understand user’s problem and reflect your understanding

6 Communication and CS Skills
Satisfied vs. dissatisfied customers Stress customer service excellence Satisfied customers are likely to be repeat customers Dissatisfied customer incidents usually take longer to handle Dissatisfied customers generate: Lengthy calls (escalates cost) Repeated callbacks Complaints and ill-will (word of mouth) Incidents that must be rerouted Product returns and refunds Poor support staff productivity

7 Communication and CS Skills
Devoted to customer service Provide clients with information, service, or solution they need Explain to customers what can be done for them if the problem cannot be solved Treat clients with respect and courtesy Communicate to clients when they should expect to receive the service or information they need Return calls or s when promised even if no progress has been made Remember: attitude, reactions, voice, tone (customer value) build client satisfaction

8 Communication and CS Skills
Three essential comm. skills Listen carefully Build understanding Respond effectively (communicate)

9 Listen Carefully Problem description
Listen, no interruptions (Table 2-1 p. 59) Language used to describe the problem Clues to caller’s experience level Avoid language that is too complex/technical How the caller describes the problem Tone of voice (frustrated, angry, distracted) Use of technical terms Figure 2-2 (tips and obstacles) p. 61 Strategy: Look for a communication skills course to build listening skills

10 Types and Purposes of Listening
Listening type Purpose Discriminative Learn about the user Comprehensive Understand the user’s message Critical Analyze and evaluate the user’s message Therapeutic Identify opportunities for positive support Appreciative Find enjoyment Relational Develop rapport

11 Build Understanding Develop empathy with a client
Empathy: An understanding of and identification with a client’s situation, thoughts, and feelings We all started somewhere… Why call is important (e.g., report for CEO) Example: “It sounds like you’ve had a frustrating morning, but I think I can help you with this...”

12 Build Understanding Try to express the problem in your own words; do they agree that you understand? Communicate to a client that you view him or her as a person rather than a phone call or a problem Techniques: Visualization Inclusive language: We, rather than I Smile!

13 Respond Effectively It’s all about communication!
Recognize the importance of a sincere greeting Begin with call greeting (icebreaker) First impression of you and company Example: This is Janet in Computer Support. Thank you very much for calling. How can I help you? NOT fake or bored – be enthusiastic Thank you – value the call/customer Write down his/her name…..USE it. First or Mrs./Ms./Mr.

14 Use Scripts Appropriately
Prepared sequence of questions and statements used to handle parts of an incident May include decision points and branches to handle different situations Tip: Don’t read lengthy scripts or responses to questions; restate in your own words if possible Know when to deviate from script My call to HP

15 Use Tone and Style Effectively
HOW can be more important than WHAT Top of p. 65 (dissatisfied vs. satisfied) Formal vs. informal; casual or professional (blend) Nonverbal behaviors (next slide) p. 66

16 Nonverbal Behaviors Use these Avoid these Posture Open stance
Face user Fold arms or cross legs Bow head Facial expression Smile Interested expression Frown Show boredom, impatience Eye contact Frequent but not excessive eye contact Focus on distance or at feet Stare Gestures Use body movements Stiff or limited gestures Shift weight Distance Comfortable distance Too close or too distant Voice quality Comfortable loudness Normal pitch and tone Shout or whisper Monotone or sing-song

17 Effective Personal Comm. Style
Use clear, succinct (brief) speech Speak slowly but not so slowly as to sound condescending Use short sentences; avoid jargon Avoid a rising inflection at the end of sentences Avoid empty phrases Pauses are okay Phrase communication with clients positively p

18 Challenges of Telephone Comm.
Telephone clients evaluate: Telephone menu system Length of time to answer call Initial greeting (1st impression) Nonverbal communication also contributes to the success of telephone communication

19 Telephone Dialog Skills
Support agents need to learn effective ways to (dialog on p. 69): Greet a caller Put a call on hold Transfer a call Terminate a call Role-playing scenario p

20 Develop Incident Mgmt Strategy
Incident management strategy Techniques, tools and strategies that support specialists use to move through an incident effectively and efficiently from initial greeting to the end of the incident

21 Goals of Incident Management
Provide user with information she or he needs Manage stress levels for both the user and support agent Ensure that the incident progresses from start to finish in an effective and efficient way Make the user more self-reliant

22 Resources for Incident Mgmt
Organizational policies on incident management and expectations Strategies covered in training programs Observation and imitation of respected senior support agents Personal communication style Feedback on strengths and areas for improvement

23 Incident Mgmt Guidelines
Policy knowledge, how to use phone and software, and guidelines Ask goal-directed diagnostic questions (keep call moving forward, based on script or experience) Be honest (don’t cover up problems) “I don’t know” (watch tone, refer, research) Apologize (run around, on hold, ill suited product) “Thank you” (caller and call important) Incident mgmt, not user mgmt Can advise them but not force; don’t judge Instill self-reliance (help themselves)

24 Customer Service and Personality Types
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) A personality analysis tool commonly used in business and industry to identify worker personality and work style preferences

25 Four Dimensions of Personality
Where do you direct your energy? Introvert (I) versus Extrovert (E) Private/quite expressive/social How do you process information? Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N) Direct communication create ways to process How do you make decisions? Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F) Logic/analysis personal values How do you organize your life? Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P) Structured/well-organized flexible/explore

26 Understanding the MBTI
Use: helps agents understand how users and coworkers view the work world and behave differently in it Two examples of 16 possible personality types ISTJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) ENFP (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving) Each person is a mixture of the four types No personality type is correct or best Most people are a mixture of pure types Most common IT personalities: ISTJ & ESTJ

27 Strategies for Difficult Calls
Difficult call is one that requires special handling strategies because the user is angry, not communicative, rude or abusive, or exhibits other challenging attitudes Focus on: the specific problem getting the needed information to the client providing excellent customer service in a respectful manner getting on to the next incident

28 Users Who Complain Give ample opportunity for the user to voice complaints May be helpful to let them vent frustration Use empathy (p. 79 at top) Don’t take the complaint personally Tip: Remember that complaints can be a valuable source of feedback

29 Contacts by “Power Users”
Power user is one who is technically knowledgeable, or thinks they are, or who believes they warrant special treatment Use inclusive language that makes the user feel like a member of the team Use an authoritative tone Don’t diminish their self-importance

30 Incidents That Get Off Track
Refocus the incident Apologize for lack of prompt resolution Summarize the basic problem information Offer to continue to work toward a solution Examples on p. 80

31 Users Who Are Upset or Angry
Let users vent their anger On hold too long, talked to many people, tired of explaining the problem Reassure user that the problem is an important one and that you are willing to help resolve it Remember that angry users may continue to vent How can I help resolve this to your satisfaction? Avoid defensiveness Follow up to build trust

32 Users Who Are Abusive Abusive user is one who is rude, uses inappropriate language, or makes personal attacks on a support agent Goal: Abusive  angry  successful call Follow the support organization’s policies and procedures for this type of incident Terminate or ask them to use more professional language?

33 Users Who Are Reluctant to Respond
User is confused, lacks confidence, or doesn’t understand the ?’s Use very simple language Avoid technical jargon Try different kinds of questions Open-ended vs. yes/no Give positive feedback when the user provides useful information Suggest exchanging information in a different mode ( , chat session, face to face)

34 Users Who Won’t Stop Responding
Use behavior that indicates the call is over Summarize the incident and describe the conclusion Thank the user for calling Express your belief that the problem is solved Use short answers that don’t provide a lead-in to additional conversation or communication

35 Client-Friendly Web Sites and Web 2.0
First generation (Web 1.0) Primarily one-way communication with users Cost-effective method of communication with users Second generation (Web 2.0) Promotes collaboration among users Emphasizes social aspects of Web MySpace & Facebook

36 Web Site Tools User forum: organized discussions Blog: message posts
Community members Dell web site Blog: message posts Make posts and community comments on posts FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions Knowledge base: information archive Someone else has probably already experienced your problem Web sites: should be easy to use and exhibit customer service (reflection of business)

37 Purposes of Support Web Sites
Provide product information Take sales orders Access technical support Provide software updates and downloads Facilitate communication with end users Encourage communication and collaboration among users Provide user forums and blogs as comm. media Provide links to related sites

38 Criteria for Eval. a Support Web Site
Content Organization Format Mechanics Accurate Up-to-date Well-organized Avoids information overload Avoids graphics that download slowly Organized by clients needs Uses small units of information Effective navigation aids Correct spelling Correct grammar Let users know it exists – search engine, bus. cards

39 Comprehensive Client Service
Excellent customer service is based on specific values, attitudes, and actions Clients are the primary reason for the support organization’s existence – keep them informed Willingness to take extra measures to satisfy clients Ability to provide client satisfaction depends on adequate support resources (staffing, equipment, budget) follow up surveys Excellent client service skills apply to telephone, face-to-face, and written communications orientations! Most important chapter in book Have to be more than just knowledgeable

40 Chapter Summary Communication and interpersonal skills are the foundations of excellent customer service Listen carefully to a user’s problem description, language and tone Build understanding by restating a problem and through empathy with a user Respond effectively with a greeting, use of scripts and an appropriate tone and style Nonverbal communication such as posture, facial expression, eye contact, gestures, and voice quality affect communication results

41 Chapter Summary Develop a personal incident management strategy
Practice to develop a personal communication style Learn to use telephone dialog skills effectively Basic personality types (the MBTI) can help explain differences in communication, learning, and work styles among users and coworkers Difficult incidents and users require special skills and strategies

42 Chapter Summary A support Web site is cost-effective, but its design should be client-friendly All forms of communication with users benefit from a comprehensive approach to customer service

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