Mastering communication in customer service might seem like a simple concept.
However, as the contact center continues to evolve, preserving clear, effective communication across every channel is growing more complex. In today’s world, communicating well with your audience doesn’t just mean responding to queries quickly.
Contact center agents need to ensure they’re connecting with each caller or contact in a way that feels straightforward, personalized, and human. This is particularly crucial now that AI is playing a bigger role in our customer service interactions.
Investing in strategies to improve communication in customer service doesn’t just improve customer satisfaction scores and increase loyalty. It can also lead to more efficient service interactions, improved employee productivity, and increased opportunities to growth.
Here’s how you and your team can enhance communication in customer service.
Why Ensure Clear, Efficient Communication in Customer Service?
Exceptional customer experiences rely on fantastic, clear communication. Strong communication skills and habits serve as the foundation for positive interactions with your audience. Whether your contact center agents are selling products or addressing an issue, they need to communicate well.
Failure to invest in clear, efficient communication in customer service leads to more frustrating, complex interactions. Customer effort scores increase, average handling times grow, and customer churn rates accelerate. Even a single negative interaction could be enough to convince 61% of customers to abandon your business forever.
Alternatively, good communication in customer service delivers a host of benefits. With the right communication skills, agents can build stronger relationships with customers, demonstrating empathy, emotional intelligence, and compassion.
Plus, good communication reduces the risk of misunderstandings and confusion in the contact center. If customers receive clear guidance on how to solve a problem, they’re less likely to call back for clarity. This means agents spend less time dealing with repetitive issues.
The Factors Impacting Communication in Customer Service
Although excellent communication in customer service is essential for any contact center, it can be difficult to get right. There are numerous factors that can damage the outcomes of an interaction, from using the wrong technology, to relying on complex terminology.
The most significant factors that influence communication in the contact center include:
- Technology: The wrong technology can have a huge impact on the clarity and efficiency of contact center conversations. Problematic connections, issues with call quality, and noise or static can make it much harder for people to understand each other.
- Convenience: Communicating with a customer service team should always be straightforward and simple for a customer. That’s why it’s so important to make accessing your team easy on all of the right channels, with a comprehensive CCaaS solution.
- Personalization: Customers want their interactions with contact center agents to be fast and efficient. However, they don’t want to compromise on a personalized experience. Calling customers by name and tailoring the service to their needs increases satisfaction levels.
- Consistency: Today’s consumers want to access the same customer service experience regardless of which channel they’re using. This means they should receive the same level of guidance, respect, and support from agents on every platform.
- Training: Providing agents with training to improve soft skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, and compassion is crucial to a good level of communication. Excellent communication skills need to be honed and optimized over time.
Ways to Improve Communication in Customer Service
Optimizing communication in customer service is an ongoing process, and something business leaders should be investing in on a regular basis. As customer preferences and priorities change, your communication strategy should evolve with it. Here are some of the best ways to start upgrading your communication strategies in the contact center.
1. Teach Agents Empathy and Patience
Around 96% of customers say empathy is crucial to excellent customer service. However only 8% of contact center agents say empathy is their greatest strength. Demonstrating both patience and empathy can be difficult for agents exposed to frustrated, or even angry customers.
However, it’s a crucial part of building strong customer relationships. Teaching agents how to imagine themselves in the shoes of their customer, and show kindness will significantly improve CSAT scores. Simply using empathy statements like “I understand why you’re frustrated” can make a huge difference. The more empathy an agent shows, the more customers will appreciate your business.
2. Prioritize Clear, Concise Communication
Clarity is essential to effective communication. In a contact center, agents may need to walk customers through the process of troubleshooting a complex issue. Using industry jargon means its more likely customers won’t understand what they need to do, leading to longer handling times.
Providing agents with scripts and knowledgebase articles they can use to simplify difficult topics can help to minimize misunderstandings. There are even generative AI assistants that can summarize complex topics in an instant. Notably, while it’s important to be thorough, agents should also be respectful of their customer’s time.
Encourage agents to get straight to the point for more efficient interactions with customers. This will accelerate resolution times, and make your team more productive.
3. Practice Active Listening
A big part of strong communication in customer service, is understanding the power of listening more than you talk. When agents are presented with similar issues several times a day, it’s easy to clock out and stop paying attention. However, listening is crucial to a great customer experience.
Encouraging agents to use active listening techniques, like asking questions for clarity, or repeating a customer’s concern back to them makes a huge difference. Active listening not only ensures customers feel heard and understood. It also means agents are more likely to discover the root cause of an issue faster, accelerating the path to resolution.
4. Invest in Emotional Intelligence
Concepts like “emotional intelligence” aren’t just buzzwords. They’re essential to strong communication in customer service. One of the reasons Gartner found only 8% of consumers were using chatbots in recent months, is that they’re searching for more human interactions.
Demonstrating emotional intelligence means teaching agents to think about their responses, and match their tone and language to each customer. It also means providing agents with the guidance they need to stay resilient and professional in the face of customer frustration.
5. Use Data to Your Advantage
Technology is an incredible tool for improving communication in customer service. CCaaS platforms provide agents with the tools they need to connect to customers on every channel. They also help agents to track the stages of a customer journey, and transfer information from one agent to the next. This reduces the need for customers to repeat themselves.
Many solutions also come with valuable analytical tools, features for sentiment analysis, and CRM integrations. These data-driven assets in the contact center help agents to discover a customer’s problems faster, and personalize the conversation to their specific needs.
6. Encourage Creativity
Scripting is common in the contact center. It offers an easy way to guide agents through common consumer interactions. But it can also lead to impersonal interactions. Customers today know when agents are just following scripts or being inauthentic.
With this in mind, it’s worth encouraging contact centers to be creative and human in their conversations with clients. Allow them the freedom to ignore the script from time to time, and showcase their own personality. This can lead to stronger relationships with customers.
7. Empower Employees
Customer and employee experience are two closely connected concepts. If employees don’t have the tools they need to communicate effectively in the contact center, they can’t deliver the right results. Business leaders need to ensure they’re empowering their teams with the right resources.
Integrating UCaaS platforms with CCaaS tools gives agents the ability to collaborate with colleagues on complex customer challenges. Using AI tools to automatically surface information in the contact center saves employees time searching for solutions. Even providing agents with dashboards they can use to track customer sentiment can help them adjust their communication strategy in the moment.
8. Pay Attention to Feedback
As mentioned above, optimizing communication in customer service is an ongoing process. The more data and insights you collect about your customers, the easier it is to train your team. Conversational analytics tools, AI systems and reporting features are all excellent for gaining insights.
However, it’s important to listen to the voice of the customer directly too. Requesting feedback from customers about their experiences uncovers both weaknesses and opportunities for growth. It can help you determine where your teams need extra training, or what kind of issues customer face most often.
9. Ensure Agents Can Use the Right Communication Methods
Some conversations are better suited to certain communication methods. It’s easier to walk customers through the process of installing a new piece of software with a video call and screen sharing tools. Alternatively, it might be simpler to provide a quick update to a customer via chat.
Ensuring agents and customers can easily move between different communication channels is crucial in today’s world. This means investing in an omnichannel CCaaS platform that simplifies the transition between channels, and retains conversational context.
Improving Communication in Customer Service
No matter what type of business you run, or what service you provide, excellent communication in customer service is essential. Connecting clearly, concisely, and efficiently with each customer is crucial to improving both the customer and agent experience.
The easier it is for your teams to communicate well with clients, the more likely it is you’ll benefit from more loyal, satisfied customers. What’s more, excellent communication can help to reduce call handling times, and improve resolution rates too.
Don’t underestimate the power of exceptional communication in customer service.