Industry insight

The 6-star ninja skillset for kick-ass customer service

You’ve been bounced around like a pinball, from one department to the next. Grinding your teeth, listening to the same bad song, over and over again. Your impression of the company with whom you’re dealing is barely hanging on by its fingertips. It’s the make or break moment. The next person who answers the phone will determine whether the company is slated or celebrated on social media. Is it a Muppet, or a Support Ninja?

1. Knowledge: Know Thy Opponent

A ninja knows their opponent through and through. Ensure your team is equipped with all the knowledge they need to deal with anything the customers throw at them. The knowledge stream must run in many directions. And no, that is not a Zen proverb uttered by the wise warrior, but rather sound business advice. (Although those two forms of knowledge frequently overlap.) AI-powered customer support platforms can put a broad scope of practical knowledge about the customer at your team’s fingertips, in an instant. Added to this, the client service team must be up to date about company policies, product specifications and how the purchasing process works. Knowledge is not just power; it is the future.

2. Creativity: The Art of the Warrior

If something occurs that is not within the prepared brief for engagement, creative thinking is an essential employee trait to troubleshoot situations. The ability to think outside of the box and come up with unique and creative solutions will diffuse almost any situation. The goal is a productive solution for both parties. Your team of ninjas must be aware that sometimes to attain that goal, the simplest option is required.

Occam's razor is the problem-solving principle that the simplest solution tends to be the correct one. But to discover this simplicity in the complex, self-complicating system of business, requires a creative imagination. Encourage your team to develop their imaginative thinking, so that the problem-solving ideas can happen in the moment and with a well-practiced ease.

3. Empathy: Take the Journey in Another’s Shoes

Empathy is the emotional capacity to show you understand someone else’s experience. Take a moment to reflect on the last disgruntled client you had to deal with. Feel their jaw-grinding frustration and the tension headache, creeping up the back of the neck with white-hot talons. That’s where your team needs to meet them. In that place. That will allow them to understand what the irritated client is going through.

According to a State of the Workplace Empathy study done in 2018 by Businessolver, 87% of CEOs see a direct link between empathy in the workplace and business performance. There is also a direct link to increased productivity, consumer retention and an overall business health. This is echoed by 79% of HR professionals who were interviewed for the study. Business people are so used to thinking about the bottom line, but the bottom line in most customers’ minds isn’t financial, it’s emotional.

4. Self-Control: Sway Like Bamboo

When the exasperated person on the other end of the line is one call-on-hold away from spitting fireballs, you need a cool, calm and collected team with warrior-like self-control. For, the consequences of not having self-control could have long-lasting implications for your company in a world of wide-reaching social media.

To develop the ninja art of staying calm with the storm, a useful tool is to plan ahead: “If X happens, then I know to do Y and Z.” There are well-proven crisis management methods that can be applied. One example is to conceptualize a mental map, one that allows your team to visualize a productive course of action for various situations.

Remind your team to depersonalize from the situation when it becomes too heated. By staying calm and focused, your ninja’s will be able to trust their gut as to how to ensure a productive and beneficial result for both all parties involved.

5. Right Speech: Speak the Words of the Wise

What separates your team of ninjas from the average call-centre operator? The crafty communications weapons at their disposal. One such example is to use the phrase, “What I hear you say is…” and then repeat the issues that the customer is having. That way the customer immediately feels heard and vindicated.

If you get someone who’s belligerent due to past experiences, be prepared to deal with it professionally and courteously. Then change the tone of the conversation to a positive one. Here are some ways in which this can be achieved:

  • Focus on the solution
  • Use their name regularly
  • Make them feel like they’re doing business with a human, not with a company

6. Effective Listening: Hear the Sound of One Hand Clapping

Why does it seem like some call centre agents have cotton candy stuffed into their ears? Fortunately, ninjas have seemingly enhanced sensory perception. But they don’t only want to hear what is being said, they need to truly listen. 80% of customer service is listening. Recommend that they begin to hear with their ears, but listen with their brains. As information is coming in, they should be conceptualizing and processing responses and possible paths of action.

Great customer service is a powerful tool in business. This is why Support Ninja skills are necessary to wield such power. When it is done incorrectly it can lead to the ruin of a company, through reputational damage. However, if it is used wisely it can result in an enormous payback in terms of loyalty through and creates brand advocates by transforming negative experiences into positive outcomes.