How to Perfect Customer-Facing Roles
Imagine walking into a store to be greeted by a warm, welcoming smile from a receptionist. They speak to you in a kind tone, prove extremely helpful with your queries, and emanate a cheery disposition. What kind of an impact do you think this would have on you? A receptionist is a classic example of a customer-facing role. Customer-facing employees in an organization play a vital part in a company. They are responsible for cultivating customer relationships, contributing to positive customer experiences, and boosting customer loyalty.
What are Customer-Facing Roles?
Customer-facing roles are any jobs in a business that involves direct contact with customers. Employees in customer-facing roles interact with customers daily and are a vital touchpoint for customer experiences. They are usually directly responsible for the image of your business in the eyes of a consumer.
In today’s digital age, the idea of customer-facing roles has evolved. Earlier, receptionists, customer service agents, and sales reps were perhaps classic examples of customer-facing roles. Today, social media managers, PR executives, and even live chat agents come under the ambit of customer-facing.
In short, any employee who interacts with customers regularly and helps them ease specific pain points in their customer journey is considered to be in a customer-facing role.
Examples of Customer-Facing Roles
As we have already established, customer-facing roles entail interactions with customers. In today’s world, most employees brush shoulders with customers at some point. However, for a role to be defined as customer-facing, there needs to be regular interaction with external customers.
There are different positions for customer-facing roles in various companies. For instance, on-site sales representatives would be an essential touchpoint for customers in the auto industry when purchasing a vehicle. For tech companies, customer support agents are important customer-facing representatives.
There are numerous customer-facing roles, and job descriptions are evolving every day. Some of the broad categories of customer-facing roles in an organization are:
1. Customer Success Roles
Employees directly responsible for bringing in customers are the number one customer-facing role to focus on. Depending on the industry, these may include:
- Customer success managers
- Onboarding specialists
- Customer training executives
- Customer service specialists
- Customer service agents
2. Customer Support Roles
Employees who provide routine support to external customers, apart from service agents, are also counted among customer-facing roles. Some of these include:
- Field service technicians
- Customer care representatives
- Customer liaison officers
- Call center executives
- Live chat agents
- Social media managers
- Waiters, bartenders, etc. in the hospitality industry
- On-field support executives in retail outlets
3. Administrative Roles
Specific administrative roles may also require customer interactions. They fall under customer-facing roles too. Some examples are:
- Counter attendants
- Clerks, porters, attenders, etc.
4. Human Resources
Sometimes, certain human resources executives can also count as customer-facing roles. Although they may not interact with external customers daily, they are still responsible for creating a company image during recruitment. Some of the customer-facing HR roles include:
The Right Fit for a Customer-Facing Role
Every job description requires specific skill sets. Customer-facing roles are no different. For a person to be a good fit for a customer-facing role, some basic skills are prerequisites. Being an amicable person with a friendly disposition is non-negotiable. A person also needs to be an excellent conversationalist to be able to connect with customers.
Apart from these, if you are considering moving into a customer-facing role, ask yourself these pertinent questions before taking the plunge:
1. Are you empathetic with people?
Empathy is a cornerstone of a great customer experience. Empathetic employees can forge a real connection with customers, get them to engage with the business at a deeper level. They can put themselves in customers’ shoes to address their grievances. A 2018 study by M&C Saatchi found that an empathy deficit can cost a business an average of $300m every year in revenues. A customer-facing role requires a person to be empathetic.
While empathy is a natural trait in many, it can also be cultivated over time. Some ways to be an empathetic executive is to:
- Be a good listener
- Put your customer’s needs above all else
- Strive hard to give your customers the best experience possible
- Be kind and gentle even with the most difficult customers
2. Can you think on your feet?
Another trait to have to be successful in a customer-facing role is to think quickly on your feet. Customers can come up with the most absurd requests and queries. The person on the other end of the conversation should be able to come up with solutions quickly and efficiently without inconveniencing the customer.
For instance, you may come across an aggrieved customer who perhaps, does not speak the same language as you do. How do you bridge the communication gap? A person who is a fast thinker might be able to rope in a colleague who understands the language or use technological tools like a translator or a live chat tool to navigate the issue.
3. Are you a problem solver?
A big part of being a customer-facing executive is solving customer problems. An intelligent executive is proactive with customer troubleshooting. They anticipate issues before they arise and have solutions ready for worst-case scenarios. If you are someone who is a natural problem-solver, then a customer-facing role is an ideal position to seek out.
For example, customer service representatives may have to deal with angry customers when there is a problem with a product. In such situations, the rep will have first to calm the customer down and then give them an easy solution to fix the issue. Sometimes, you may not be able to solve problems right away. In such cases, you have to be agile enough to connect to someone who can solve the problem. The goal should be to serve your customer.
4. Can you carry a conversation without getting emotional?
Circling back to the point of angry and aggrieved customers, they are commonplace in any business. There will at least be one occasion where a customer refuses to budge. In such situations, it helps to remember that the customer is always right. You need to be able to navigate such situations with patience and perseverance. Getting emotional or agitated under pressure conditions is not a positive quality for customer-facing roles. However, being while the roles don’t call for an emotional person, it does require an empathetic person. If you think of yourself as a rational, patient, and empathetic conversationalist, then such a role would be perfect for you.
5. Can you fight for what is best for the customer?
Finally, a customer-facing role will require you to do whatever it takes to give your customers the best customer experience possible. Sometimes, this may mean picking internal battles. For instance, if you come across a customer who has been at the end of a poor business decision, say getting a defective product, then going the extra mile to ensure they receive a replacement is the mark of a good customer service executive. If you ever find that the company is being unfair to a customer, you have to be willing to fight for their rights. It is also in the interest of the company to ensure that your customers get the best.
How to Improve Your Customer-Facing Skills
1. Get on calls with customers constantly.
Practice makes perfect. The more you talk to customers, the better you will get at it. Spend a lot of time interacting with customers on calls and emails, then analyze what works and what doesn’t.
2. Pay attention to your customer’s choice of words.
When it comes to conversations, words matter the most. Empathetic words like ‘thank you, ‘please,’ and ‘I understand’ can help improve a conversation. Make a list of words that exude kindness and understanding. Use them frequently in conversation with your customers.
3. Watch how teammates with similar roles interact with customers
When it comes to interacting with customers and improving customer experiences, there is always scope to learn from others. Pay close attention to teammates who do well with customers. Try to emulate their tone of voice, words, and deal with tricky situations. Learning on the job is always a smart idea.
4. Read books on psychology.
Speaking of learning, there’s more than one way to learn about customers. There are plenty of books out there in the market that decodes customer psychology. Books like Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy by Kit Yarrow, Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini, or even the Handbook of Consumer Psychology are some excellent places to start.
5. Get to know your customers well.
Knowing your customers well can help you strike up meaningful conversations with them. Use available data from past interactions, social media platforms, and other sources to include these in discussions. Also, politely asking about their wellbeing and family’s wellbeing can help forge deeper relationships.
6. Be proactive with customers.
Good customer-facing employees solve problems for customers after they arise. The best ones proactively solve problems even before customers can identify them. This helps improve your brand image and the way customers perceive you. Problem anticipation and solving is an important skill to have when you are in the customer-facing role.
7. Use the right tools to connect with customers.
Data is a great source to help with customer connections. Look for customer data from your CRM software, live chat, and social media, you can find out a lot about customers. Employ these tools well to improve your communication and interaction with customers.
8. Identify the proper channels that support your customers.
Different customers like to reach out and connect through other channels. In today’s hyper-connected world, you need to reach customers where they’re at. Be it phone calls, WhatsApp messages, live chat tools, or even AI chatbots; you need to be able to communicate with customers on the channels they most prefer. Ensure you understand your customers’ preferences before you reach out and talk to them.
Ace Your Customer-Facing Role with Freshchat
Customer-facing roles can be a cakewalk with the right tools. Using a customer messaging software like Freshchat offers intuitive insights into your customer to help understand their needs better. An integrated solution that lets you connect with customers is a bonus to any customer-facing role.
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