How is a customer support agent different from a telesales agent and what are you more inclined to be

It cannot be denied that there are different types of positions in the world of CX. There are many options for a remote agent to choose from such as telesales agent, cross-selling and up-selling agent or specialist, customer support agent, remote help desk service agent etc. Out of the lot customer support and telesales are two vital aspects of a business that involves direct interaction between an organization’s personnel and its customers. The responsibilities, tasks and goals of a company or organization’s telesales and customer service departments are carried on by telesales agents and customer support representatives also known as call centre agents. 

At this point, it is common for getting the jobs of telesales agents mixed up with customer support representatives like a slip of the tongue. At first glance, these two different job functions might seem like it is the same as they may cross over but each has its own strategy and ways of execution which cannot be mistaken to be the same. Telesales agents make outbound calls while customer support representatives typically deal with customers calling the brand or business regarding an issue they are facing with a product or service.

Regardless of the duties and responsibilities that accompany the role of each of the job roles, the ultimate objective of both these positions is to make sure that their customers are happy and satisfied. That said, these roles have some key differences that need to be explored that can eliminate any confusion of how a customer support agent is different from a telesales agent. 

Telesales Agent: An Overview 
A telesales agent’s primary goal is to acquire new customers for the brand or business that they represent by making outbound calls and setting up appointments and meetings for potential customers who may be converted into purchasing customers. Telesales seeks to sell services or products and these calls often happen at incredibly high frequency. 

Being a part of the company’s remote sales team, they directly contact customers directly via phone to make sales calls by setting up appointments or qualifying prospects. There are two types of telesales calls, one being inbound calls and the other being outbound calls. Inbound telesales agents receive calls from existing customers or prospective clients whereas outbound telesales calls refer to the agent reaching out to potential customers or existing ones to encourage or educate them regarding a company’s offers, new products or services etc. 

What exactly does a telesales agent do?
A telesales agent needs to have excellent communication skills and sales experience along with customer service knowledge. This agent will tend to spend most of their time persuading prospective and existing customers to purchase products or services. This means that a telesales agent must be persuasive, persistent and most of all, patient. One needs to be equipped with product knowledge, current market trends etc in order to deal with different customers and to thrive in a sales environment. Listed below are some of the roles and responsibilities that a telesales agent must perform. 

  • Initiate direct sales with customers or leads over the phone. 
  • Asking the right questions in keeping the customers engaged and supplying them with relevant information to keep them updated and interested. 
  • Listen to the needs of the customer so as to generate repeat business. 
  • Answering all questions or concerns regarding the product or service that the customer may have. 
  • Staying updated on all the information regarding the products and services offered by the company. 
  • Meeting sales quotas. 

A few requirements that certain companies might need in their support representatives include:

  • Creative thinking skills and engaging conversational strategies. 
  • Impeccably paced communication skills, emotional intelligence and other interpersonal skills
  • A positive attitude combined with a healthy work ethic. 
  • Ability to manage stress and handle rejections.

Some of the goals in addition to acquiring new customers for telesales agents include: 

  • Provide brand recognition by leaving customers or callers with an excellent impression of the company through effective communication and customer management skills.
  • Converting difficult leads into customers. 
  • Using data provided by the company to pursue promising prospects with persistence and persuasion. 
  • Helping to lessen negative reactions from callers, leads or customers.

Breaking it down by stats:

  • According to Salesforce, 70% of customers say that support agents’ awareness of sales interactions is vital to keeping their business. 
  • According to Brevet, only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs. 
  • The RAIN Group reported that of buyers who accept telesales calls, 75% report that interest in the product is the most important factor. 
  • According to Hubspot, 84% of buyers complain that telesales reps are annoying in their efforts to convince them to make a purchase. 
  • TOPO reveals that 87% of prospects state that telesales agents do not understand their needs.

Customer Support Agent: An Overview 
The fundamental goal of a customer support agent is to resolve any concern or issue that a customer has with their product or service in the most efficient manner. A customer support agent is the assistance, guidance or support that an organization or company provides to its customers while they interact with a brand. It is entirely based on the requirements of the clients. On many occasions, support also assists customers while shopping and influence their buying decisions while in other instances, it happens only after the customer has made his purchase decision. Yes, it is reactive and most often used when a customer has certain apprehensions or is not satisfied. 

American Express recently conducted a study on the effectiveness of customer satisfaction on retention and found that 33% of shoppers were more likely to switch companies after one poor customer support interaction. Customer support is an integral part of customer relationship management which further enables customer retention. It also helps the customer form an opinion about the company while speaking and iterating with those who should represent its value in the fullest possible way. Moreover, customer support services could be very easily classified as an area of customer experience. Quite often, the entire customer experience can be largely based off on a customer support interaction, proving that it is an integral area and its core role is to provide support. 

Let us give you a relatable example if a customer were to receive a damaged product and contacts customer support regarding it, that interaction with the customer support agent will be a make-or-break moment for retaining that customer. When a customer support agent contributes towards the retention of a customer, he or she enables the business to develop its credibility and embark on a path that leads to long term business growth. 

What exactly does a customer support agent do?
On a typical day, a support agent is responsible for assisting customer inquiries while also resolving and escalating complaints and grievances, ensuring that the needs of customers are prioritised and addressed in a timely manner. In addition to this, customer care agents also take orders of the customers or callers, process their payments while also setting shipment or delivery schedules and so forth. From the business perspective, they help with the development of strategic procedures, as well as operational methods and techniques so as to increase productivity and assist in generating more revenues and profits for the company. Listed below are some examples of the responsibilities that represent typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles as a customer support agent.

  • Manage large volumes of incoming calls
  • Identify and assess customer’s needs to attain and maintain satisfaction
  • Provide valid, accurate and complete information as requested by the customer using the right tools and methods. 
  • Meet customer service team or personal targets and call handling quotas. 
  • Handle and manage customer complaints, provide appropriate solutions and alternatives within the scope of the company and also within the time limits established. 
  • Strictly follow and maintain communication guidelines, procedures and policies. 
  • Take the extra effort at engaging customers and going the extra mile to meet or exceed their expectations. 

A few requirements that certain companies might need in their support representatives include:

  • Strong communication and phone contact skills.
  • Familiarity with CRM systems and practices. 
  • Soft skills such as active listening, empathy and creative problem-solving. 
  • Ability to identify and adapt or respond to different customer types. 
  • Ability to prioritize, multitask, and manage time effectively. 
  • High school diploma

Breaking it down by stats:

Source: Hubspot

  • Oberlo reports that 92% of customers would stop doing business with a company after three poor customer service experiences. 
  • According to Mckinsey and Company, 70% of buying decisions are based on how the customer feels like he or she is being treated. 
  • American Express records that 68% of customers say that a pleasant representative is crucial to having a positive service experience.
  • According to InfoLink, 84% of customers say that support agents are not able to answer their questions effectively. 
  • According to American Express, 40% of customers want agents to focus on taking care of their needs and requirements quickly. 

Some similarities and differences are… 
That both telesales agents and customer support agents can result in both new and repeat sales. That is both can attract customers through the medium of word of mouth. The difference here is that their objectives are different. Telesales agents need to focus on revenue and qualifying leads by handling a variety of inbound or outbound calls whereas support agents need to prevent continued customer troubles, assist in upsells,  answer detailed questions, build stronger brand equity etc. Telesales agents will be responsible for closing sales deals over the phone and maintaining good customer relations while also bringing in new customers while support agents are responsible for handling various customer problems, queries, etc. 

Customer support + Telesales = Positive Customer Experience but what works best for you? 
The best customer support representatives are genuinely excited to interact with customers and help them out. They tend to be empathetic, patient and passionately communicative. They understand the value of good communication and presentation skills while also understanding the importance of every customer interaction they have. Customer support agents tend to put themselves in their customers’ shoes while fighting to give them the best of what they need and more. Support agents tend to add value and enhance the customer experience and their journey with the brand or business. A customer support agent can effectively collect customer feedback which businesses can use to grow and get better. In addition to that, problem-solving also comes naturally to these support agents. They are confident at troubleshooting and investigate if they don’t have enough information to answer client questions or resolve their problems. The target and challenge here are that customer support agents are required to ensure excellent service standards while responding efficiently to customer inquires and also maintaining high customer satisfaction. 

Now, an effective telesales representative builds repeat business or sales through strong customer relationship management by concentrating on customers’ wants and needs, rather than using high-pressure sales tactics. Understanding the skill, requirements and expectations of these two positions will help you determine which is more ideal for you and for your career. Get on board with VOIZ to get started either as a customer support agent or as a telesales agent today!

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