Communicate in Real Time
After completing this module, you’ll be able to:
- Describe the tools and soft skills agents need to effectively communicate via SMS, mobile, and social interactions.
- List the top five communication rules for agents to communicate in real time.
As we reviewed in Unit 1, customer engagement is a moving target. Rather than customers flocking to the service channel the vendor chooses, now the customer dictates which channels you’re required to have available. People want to talk to companies the same way they talk to their friends and families—with a sense of familiarity, care, and trust. It’s now up to companies—and their service agents—to create the same kind of instant and seamless personal service experience.
Customer service agents aren’t just handling phone calls, now they’re juggling cases on other channels like social media, chat, SMS, phone, and email. That means agents need a diverse skill set to accommodate customers on every channel. An agent adept in handling customer concerns on the phone may not immediately have the same repertoire via SMS, for example.
All of these diverse channels give customers more opportunities to solve their problems. But it also creates new problems for agents. Now they have to go back and forth between channels simultaneously, without skipping a beat. It’s no longer one customer at a time, it’s sometimes five customers at a time. Of course, guiding, training, and coaching agents is crucial to ensuring that your omnichannel service agents are prepared for the change. This ensures that they can work more efficiently and effectively to keep customers happy—no matter where or how they contact your company. These five rules are some places to start.
Five Rules of Real-time Communication
1. Don’t Underestimate a First Impression
How you greet customers for any digital chat sets the tone for the quality of the interaction. Agents cannot convey a warm or engaging tone with their voice as they can over the phone. So it’s important to demonstrate the same welcoming feeling with text. Never just gloss over the power of saying a meaningful hello! And remember emojis can add a warm, personal touch that helps customers stay engaged throughout the conversation.
|Deliver Service with a 😊
Say goodbye to “hold, please” and hello to Service Cloud Messaging.
Speaking of emojis. With Service Cloud Messaging, service agents can connect with customers via their preferred apps, including SMS and Facebook Messenger. This Service Cloud add-on allows agents to increase productivity, being able to handle 7-10 message conversations simultaneously versus one phone call.
2. Stop Typing, Start Reading
In a perfect world, a customer includes their entire response in a single chat. But it’s common practice to break up thoughts into multiple messages. Agents can’t jump the gun. Simply wait for the customer to finish their response before jumping in. They’ll love you for it.
3. Social Media Interactions Go Beyond Service
Including more teams goes far to create a service culture across your organization. Customer service agents are manning the front lines when it comes to engaging with customers via social media, but it takes a village to make sure the interactions go smoothly.
- Have your organization set the rules for the tone and language to use.
- Engage legal to help make sure agents don’t unknowingly betray customer trust.
- Initiate HR-administered trainings to keep agents up to date on social media interactions.
4. Always Be Positive
Whether it’s social media, SMS, or chat, the only communication agents have is the written word. And since it lacks the immediate indicators of mood or intention that a phone call does, it’s even more important to use positive language. Reinforce what you can do rather than what you can’t. Phrases like “we appreciate” or “I’m happy to let you know that,” go a long way with customers.
5. Be Empathetic
Never forget that trust is the core of every winning brand’s service promise. When an agent empathizes with a customer’s problem, customers feel like they matter. As agents interact with your customers, make sure they know how to “best guess” as to why the customer is reaching out, and that they are friendly, caring, and helpful from the start. Your customers will feel like they’re being treated fairly and honestly. And your agents will have earned that customer’s trust.
Service Team Tip: Add Soft Skills Coaching to Agent Onboarding
As customers continue to gravitate toward online and mobile channels, agents must learn the art of customer service through the written word. Pointed training on ways to present email, chat, and social media correspondence ensure customers have consistent and positive experiences with your brand.