Customer Service Manager Skills and the Makings of an Exceptional Customer Support
Customer Success

Customer Service Manager Skills and the Makings of an Exceptional Customer Support

Six remarkable customer service manager skills to nurture profitable relationships with customers and build loyalty.

Sanjoli Jain

26-10-2021

8 Min

So, you worked your way up the ladder. You got promoted to the customer service manager position, and now you’re all set to manage a high-performing team. You might assume your job would get more accessible now since managing a team does not seem like a task. But you’re only looking at it superficially. Managing a team that manages an infinite number of your customers comes with a set of challenges.

When you start settling into the new role, you’ll realize the need for an entirely different skill set. As a customer service manager, you’ll be in charge of fostering a productive environment for your team. You’ll have to deal with critical issues from day one. You’ll also need to oversee the performance of your employees and ensure that your team is keeping pace with service demands.

Customer service involves dealing with critical situations from day one. When something goes wrong, the customer service manager is the first person responsible. Whether a team delivers a memorable experience or answers, the queries depend on the customer service manager’s skills. Building efficient customer service manager skills is not limited to ensuring customer success but also how happy and satisfied their team members are with their jobs. Perhaps initiating strategic direction and providing leadership are essential skill sets of a customer support manager.

It is their job to nurture profitable relationships with customers and build loyalty through remarkable strategies. If you are a customer service manager or aspiring to become one, we’ve listed some best qualities that you’ll need. These tips will help you advocate customer success through a deep understanding of both customer and business needs. Build and lead a strong workforce with these five customer support manager skills.

6 Must-have Customer Service Manager Skills

1. Responsive Communication

Responsive communication is the barest minimum customer service manager skill. It is an essential skill to build regardless of the industry you work in. The way you and your team communicate says a lot about your brand. Responsive communication would always work as it makes the customers feel that they’re heard.

Every day will come with new types of queries and problems. Managers and their teams need to be responsive and adaptive to situations. As a manager, you must lead the process and set a good example. A customer service manager must set an ideal example, even if it means getting their hands dirty or keeping the company’s spirit high. Managers should also coach their customer support employees to handle challenging customer calls and busy workloads.

How to Build Responsive Communication Skills?

There is no fixed rulebook or fixed ways to ensure responsive communication. But here are some ways that can help:

  • Acknowledge a customer query or an escalated issue as soon as possible.
  • Write back to your loyal customers often.
  • As a manager, you can write relevant blog posts on Medium and Linkedin and connect with your audience.
  • Make your vision clear and convey the same to your team.

2. Planning & Strategy

Planning and strategizing is yet another must-have customer support skill. A manager must get involved in planning and building customer-centric strategies. It is said that “when it comes to customer service, haste makes waste.” Building a deliberate, detail-oriented strategy will go a long way in meeting the needs of your customers.

While framing the strategies, make sure you keep in mind the “SMART goals” approach:

customer support manager skills

Design workflows that enable collaboration between your support employees. Collaboration will bring a loyal customer base and engage employees too. As a manager, you must continuously strive to discover any unmet needs. It would help if you also made sure that your goals and strategies ease your agent’s job.

Problem Solving Capabilities

Problem-solving capabilities are a significant part of planning and strategy. Your problem-solving tendencies will make you aware of the potential problems that may occur in the future. You can then plan accordingly and be ready for almost all possible situations.

Apart from this, you will need to be present and available to help your employees solve problems and get them going if they’re stuck somewhere. You’ll also have to deal with problems (leadership and management problems) like budget priorities, proving the ROI, bringing changes in your processes, company advocacy, etc. So how do you get ready for all these problems?

How to Build Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving skills can only be improved through a proactive approach. It will help if you communicate with your support team continuously. The more aware you are of a situation, the more likely you will solve the broader problem.

Thinking, discussing, and talking out problems will straighten half the things for you. And only this will help you build strategies you can use in your day-to-day support. Also, keep in mind that the solutions to the problems must be backed by data and should prove their grounds when quantified. “Why?” you’ll ask. Keep reading.

Recommended Read: How to Improve Your Customer Service: 7 Tips That Always Work

Importance of Making Data-Driven Decisions

Creating measurable goals and providing data-driven insights is yet another must-have customer service manager skill. If data back your strategies, it’ll help you remove roadblocks from your support and reduce the cost invested in the support process.

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.”

Daniel Keys Moran

“Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.”

Charles Babbage

Especially in today’s world, where most customers are techno-savvy, managers can utilize analytics tools to find the loopholes in their systems. As a customer support manager, it is essential to keep track of important KPIs and metrics such as average time response, breached SLAs, agent performance, customer satisfaction scores, etc. These numbers will help you achieve stiff targets and improve overall productivity.

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3. Empathy and Diplomacy

Empathy: Not just customers, you’ll need to be empathetic towards your employees as well. You’ll need to take everyone’s needs and priorities into account while making decisions.

Diplomacy: Diplomacy is the most significant part of managerial positions. The same applies to customer support managers. They need to be tactful when it comes to navigating through tricky situations. You’ll need both these skills while dealing with both angry customers and frustrated employees.

While it is always good to give full affirmations to customers, a little diplomacy can save you from unnecessary customer frustrations. Diplomacy is all about phrasing, word choice, and delivery tone. It will ensure that the person you’re speaking to understands your position and reason even when you’re delivering bad news.

How to Build a Combination of These Skills

Empathy and diplomacy both are critical in a customer-facing role. Hence, instead of looking at empathy and diplomacy as two different aspects, I’d rather suggest you see and use their combination.

Every manager must agree that they’ll never be able to please everyone as a manager. But by practicing empathy and being rational in your decisions will save you from losing your customers. You can start by practicing various reflecting and listening techniques in your conversations. Talk and repeat what you as a customer would want to hear. Try to clear your intent whenever you speak. Clarify everything with your employees. Be affirmative yet indulging.

Diplomacy can be learned by watching how the diplomats do it. Only a rational approach would work. Read about how to choose the correct phrase and try rephrasing your regular day-to-day customer conversations. Deliver the right thing instead of delivering with emotions.

4. How to Best Handle De-escalations

There are always customers who want to speak to the manager regardless of best efforts and response from the customer service teams. It is a clear indication that the customer is unhappy. As a customer support manager, the customer will churn if you do not look into it at the earliest.

Under these circumstances, managers need to step in and work on what’s best for the company and customers. You can negotiate with the customer, take an affirmative stand. It is the best way to de-escalate any conflict. If the customer demands seem impossible to fulfill, you can communicate with them better and let them know. If you don’t do it, the consequences can be damaging.

Let me walk you through this with an excellent example:

Company Name: Proposify, A SaaS Company

The CEO of Proposify noticed that a customer was constantly complaining about the software. He noted that the customer was asking for solutions that were not possible to fulfill. After weeks of continuous complaints, the CEO decided to talk to the customer directly.

A SaaS Company

The CEO apologized for this company’s inability to meet the customer’s needs and also offered to provide a refund along with competitors that the customer should try. To his surprise, the CEO got the following response:

A SaaS Company-2

It is a perfect example and a right blend of empathy, diplomacy, and affirmation to de-escalate any issue. If you work for the customer’s best interest, the customers will know, and they’ll be delighted. In the beginning, it seemed like they’d lose a customer, but they gained a loyal customer and a valuable testimonial instead.

5. Team Building & Productivity

Managers are not the ones who can do the work better than the support reps; they are the ones who can get their support reps to do the work better than they can.

Frederick W. Smith

The primary goal of a customer support manager is to build a team of support representatives committed to carrying forward the company’s vision and providing exceptional service to customer issues. It starts from hiring the right people and training them adequately. As a customer support manager, you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of all your agents and help them grow.

It will help you eliminate unnecessary barriers that may bring down the quality of customer service. Good managers know how to keep themselves, and their teams motivated. Play your team’s strengths and guide them in the weak parts. Create a transparent work environment so that everyone can express their needs. Your trust and respect will create a sense of belonging in them, resulting in better performance.

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Recommended Read: Seven Tips to Skyrocket Your Agent Productivity

6. Innovative Solutions for Customer Engagement

We live in a world where ideal customer service practices are not limited to only delivering good services. The key lies in the answer to “How agile your customer support is.” It depends on your support to witness continuous improvements. It would help if you adopted innovations to support infrastructure by keeping your customers in mind.

A customer service manager’s skill involves enriching experiences for employees and customers. How will you do this if you’re not aware of the latest trends and technologies? For example, enabling a seamless omnichannel experience is something that the customers consider as a bare minimum. Now, if you do not know this, how will you work towards implementing an omnichannel experience? It is a fact that your customer support may seem ancient if you do not follow the trends or, worse, are not aware of the trends. There’s no solution to this except for reading and engaging in dedicated customer support communities. As a manager, you must know what your competitors are doing, what kind of employees they hire, the software they use, the technology that prevails in the market, etc. Once you start engaging, you’ll have half of your future problems resolved!

Recommended Read: Top 10 Customer Service Trends to Follow in 2021

BottomLine

An amazing experience can turn a satisfied customer into a brand advocate and promoter. Customer service managers and teams have a significant role in fuelling your company’s flywheel and generating positive reviews and retention. All these things will matter to the company’s bottom line. This perspective will allow you to keep the company’s goals in mind as you’ll put customers first.

The job of a customer service manager is not an easy task. It is very different from being an agent, and it requires an entirely different mindset. As a customer service manager, you’ll have to deal with the toughest of the issues, build a customer-centric approach, think about your employees, all this while ensuring that the customer satisfaction rates do not dwindle. It is a challenging role and a multi-tasking one. It puts you in a unique position to represent your company and build a brand image that no one else can build. I hope the above customer service manager skills will help you build the right attitude and prowess. You’re all set to rock.

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