Who makes a good customer service agent?

I talk all the time – I’d make a great customer service agent.” We hear that quite a lot. But is that picture of customer service really accurate? And what traits are we actually looking for when we recruit new staff?

5 myths surrounding who makes a good customer service agent:

We like busting myths. In the past, we have among other things explained why response times don’t say a whole lot about the real value of customer service, and why customer service is actually quite a bit more difficult than it looks. Now it’s time to bust some myths surrounding the types of traits you need to make a good customer service agent.

MYTH 1: The more you talk, the better

This might be the most common and persistent myth about customer service: that people who talk all the time, who are known among friends and family as a chatterbox, make the perfect customer service agent. Sure enough, as a customer service agent you do need to be good at expressing yourself. Sometimes you might need to talk quite a lot in order to explain something to a customer and make them trust you.

On the other hand, time is important, and unnecessary chatter can make for quite a negative customer experience. After all, the customer isn’t calling customer support for a chat, but to get an efficient solution to a problem.

The truth is that it’s often more important as a customer service agent to be empathic and perceptive than it is to be talkative. We need team members who are good at leading and steering conversations, and above all they need to be good listeners. They need to be able understand what’s not being said so that we can plug the gaps and contribute with the information the customer actually needs.

MYTH 2: Extrovert makes social expert 

Another thing a lot of people like to point out in interview situations is how social and extroverted they are. Interestingly, introverts seem to have a particularly well-developed ability to listen and read situations, which is incredibly important in customer service work. We have many introverts in customer service roles, who are incredibly gifted and very good at streamlining and organising – they only talk about what’s really important.

Naturally, being sociable and positive can also be helpful, especially when it comes to creating a pleasant dialogue with the customer. But in contrast to what many people think, we’ve noticed that introverts are often very good at making a strong first impression. Sometimes it’s just a case of stepping into a professional role; perhaps they’re very good at switching between private and professional expressions, or it’s all about confidence in the professional role, where they quite like to step in and lead in a way they don’t always like to do in social contexts.

Just like any organisation, we obviously need breadth in order to find a good dynamic. If everyone’s a shy introvert, there won’t be a whole lot of action – and anyway, we can all learn from each other. But we like to work with agents who perhaps see things not everyone else sees – those who listen and read a situation before they step in.

Are you too shy to work in customer service? Perhaps that’s the wrong question. Consider instead whether you’d enjoy taking the reins in a professional situation where you feel safe.

MYTH 3: Show your strength and go it alone!

Do you tend to emphasise at job interviews how independent you are? We’ve noticed that a lot of people like to stress how easy everything is for them and how smoothly the work will go. It seems many of us are wary of creating problems and being in the way.

In reality, we’re all regularly faced with tricky decisions and situations where we need to bounce ideas off each other and ask for help. Here at 3C Online, we like to work with people who are honest and willing to be vulnerable. The ability to ask for help often benefits us as a team, as it’s only then that we can collaborate and find good solutions that help us grow together.

MYTH 4: Dare to be bold and be pushy

This myth is a classic in customer service and telesales, especially when it comes to sales. There’s a notion of a good agent as someone who talks and talks, who argues on the phone in order to succeed at any cost, even if it leads to doubt and uncertainty over time – sometimes even if their methods border on dishonesty.

This, in other words, is according to us a myth. Firstly, an excessively pushy agent rarely makes for a very good customer experience, and secondly, we’d like to ask what qualifies as success in this instance. Because if a customer signs a contract but feels stressed, or if they have important questions that have yet to be answered, then they likely don’t feel happy nor safe, and the relationship probably won’t last very long.

Sales agents who believe in the product or service they sell aren’t afraid of questions from the customer. A skilled agent dares to tackle the awkward aspects that other sales people rush to skip past. It’s not, in order words, about arguing – it’s about being honest, about never tricking the customer, and about creating an agreement built on understanding and secure choices. What are the customer’s needs? It’s your job as a customer service agent to understand those needs and answer questions with a view to get the customer to understand how your offering suits those very needs.

MYTH 5: You’re only on the phone all day

Chatting on the phone is one thing – and it can, as we’ve outlined here, be something of an art. Manning online live chats and responding to emails is something completely different – and in many ways, that too is an art. Some agents are amazingly good at steering phone conversations but are not very good in writing; others are real live chat ninjas but far from that effective on the phone.

If you’re not just perceptive and methodical but also happen to have a good memory and a brain that likes to switch quickly between different tasks, you might become an exceptional customer service agent, because you’ll be able to respond efficiently to an email while awaiting information from a client in a live chat – without getting the different cases mixed up. If, in addition, you find it easy to adopt new digital tools and jump between different systems, you might have a rewarding, challenging career in customer service ahead of you – even if you’re the complete opposite of a chatterbox. After all, our most valued agents are those who are confident and efficient across all channels, who see and understand the bigger picture, and who will easily and happily change channel when they realise that that’s exactly what a customer relationship needs.

Did we put you off a career in customer service? Or perhaps you’re an introvert who loves helping people and are good at streamlining and organising, and you’ve only just realised that this might be for you?

Most important of all is probably motivation – so if a career in customer service sounds appealing to you, we’d love to hear from you!