Today’s consumers are conditioned to expect a top-tier, high-tech customer experience. They can order lunch on an app, have groceries delivered at an exact time and rush retail orders to their homes in as little as an hour.
Now that they’ve gotten a taste of convenient, digital-first customer experiences, they apply these standards to all their brand interactions. This holds especially true for customer service, which is best served up through sophisticated messaging channels, according to customer demand for extreme convenience. According to Helpshift data, 83% of customers would make messaging their primary means of contacting customer support if they could be guaranteed an immediate response.
Luckily, bots can be the perfect helper for human agents. Brands can rely on bots to meet customers’ easy asks, such as checking on shipping status or checking if an item is close to going out of stock. However, now that bots can free up agents to be more productive, it'll become even more important for agents to become brand ambassadors and sales professionals.
Sales reps and customer reps have more in common than they think. They are both looking to solve the customer’s problems, which often provides an opportunity to upsell them. Because this is the case, customer service agents will need much more training support than they’re currently getting. Here’s why they need to be trained like strategic salespeople rather than customer assistants.
- Many brands leverage customer reps as a sales entry point. Often organizations rely on their customer service agents to act as drivers of sales. In these cases, chatbot technology presents a strong opportunity to cut down on the back-and-forth with customers so that staff can focus on complex customer cases. But this requires they have a high-level understanding of the brand, customer needs and optimal solutions. Many customer service agents are responsible for extending the customer lifecycle, and shifting low-level customer asks to bots frees them up to do so.
- Customer service reps can build value for customers when things go wrong. Even when customers have an issue that needs fixing, they probably didn’t want to reach out to customer service in the first place — in fact, 62% of customers say they dread contacting customer service because of the long wait times. In these cases, the loyalty and retention of a potentially unhappy customer is on the line, and agents must be properly trained on how to navigate these scenarios. After providing superior customer service, the agent has a chance to suggest additional products where they create value for a happy customer. Proper customer training will also provide them the means to successfully identify these opportunities.
- Strong customer service teams ease the sales team’s burden. Customer service agents have the chance to right a customer’s wrong and save them from walking out the door and to another brand. This position puts them in a prime spot to have a measurable impact on customer retention. Less customer churn means sales reps can focus more on bringing in promising new business, while customer service takes care of the hiccups that may arise so they can retain and upsell existing business. By providing better-quality sales training to your customer service agents, you allow your sales team — and by default, your entire organization — to thrive.
As customers’ expectations elevate due to sophisticated brand experiences, and bots step in to handle all elementary customer service requests, human agents will find themselves facing more challenging customer cases — and will be expected to impress. They deserve to be set up for success in those situations. Providing them similar training resources as you do for your sales team improves their performance and helps them feel valued while on the front lines with the customer.