Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business.
Good customer service increases customer loyalty, generates word-of-mouth business and increases the amount of money customers spend. Poor customer service has the opposite effect and can even destroy a brand.
AnswerFirst has been in the customer service industry for more than 20 years and through our experience we’ve learned what basic skills it takes to provide excellent customer service. Here’s our list of the 20 most important customer service skills.
Be A Good Listener
One of the most common reasons for problems between a business and its customers are breakdowns in communication. Misunderstandings and miscommunications can cause a lot of frustration for customers so it’s important to try to avoid these situations. One of the best ways to avoid communication issues is to simply listen.
As a result, the people who make up your customer service team must have excellent listening skills. They need to be able to carefully listen to whatever problems your customers are having so they can take the appropriate action.
Most people think they are good listeners, but it’s something that takes time to really master. If you have customer service reps that aren’t good listeners, don’t worry! Listening well is a skill that can be learned. Check out some online resources for quick tips.
Sometimes customers make it very difficult to keep one’s cool, which is why it’s so important to have self-control. Those who are not able to control their own emotions when dealing with a customer will eventually end up snapping. This situation can do a lot of harm to your business’ reputation.
Customer service can be very stressful because it’s very common for the customers who need attention to be aggravated or upset. Employees who deal with customers must be able to distance themselves from the upset and focus on solving the issues at hand. Employees that lack self-control or emotional intelligence should not be placed in customer service roles.
Patience truly is a virtue and a skill that is great for those who work in customer service. Anyone who talks to customers all day and doesn’t have much patience will not last very long.
Impatient customer service reps might have a tendency to rush customers through the support experience. While it’s great to be as efficient as possible, it’s important not to rush or pressure customers. People do not typically respond well to impatience when they are trying to get a problem solved.
Aptitude for Learning
Those who work in customer service can really benefit from learning about the various products and services their company has to offer. The more a customer service rep knows about the company, its products or services and its policies, the easier it will be to help customers.
Make sure your customer service reps are hungry for knowledge about your business. As things change in your business and industry, a customer service rep with an aptitude for learning will always be able to provide your customers with the support they deserve.
Dealing with customers on a regular basis also requires a good amount of confidence. When customer service reps lack confidence it’s clear to customers and can actually have a negative impact on customers’ perceptions of your business.
Confident customer service reps are less likely to take things personally and are more willing to establish healthy boundaries with customers. Self-confident reps demand a certain amount of respect in a pleasant manner.
Be careful not to mistake an initial lack of confidence in a new customer service employee with an overall lack of self-confidence. New employees may be perfectly confident once they’ve acclimated to their new jobs.
One’s ability to follow through is key when dealing with customers on a daily basis. You need to be able to make good on the promises you make to each customer so they learn to trust you.
It is important to stay current on company policies so you don’t make a promise you cannot deliver on. If you want to do a good job of helping the customers who contact you, it will be necessary to do whatever it takes to come up with a solution that works for everyone.
Control Over Body Language
When helping customers in person, body language is a big part of being successful. Your body language can be either positive or negative, depending on what you are doing.
Tone of voice and one’s appearance can make either a very good or bad first impression on customers. You will need to be aware of this at all times, because you don’t want to make the customers uncomfortable or even offended. Always try to keep your body and posture relaxed while still remaining professional.
Being able to adapt to one’s circumstances can certainly be useful in customer service. If things suddenly take a stressful turn, you will need to know how to handle the situation gracefully. You should be able to respond appropriately to any situation no matter how sudden it is.
When you practice this skill, you will be able to handle any surprise or unexpected turn in a conversation with ease. The best customer service workers are those who are skilled at doing their jobs no matter what happens.
Good Under Pressure
Not everyone does well under pressure, but it’s important to possess this particular skill when it comes to customer service. This can be a tremendously stressful line of work, which is why you must be able to deal with pressure very well.
Those who start falling apart when things get tough won’t do very well when working with customers on a daily basis. You need to be extremely reliable, which sometimes means staying strong even when you are feeling pressured by either the customer or the situation as a whole.
Customer service typically entails using a computer, so you will need to have these skills. If you are not good with computers, you won’t be good at your job. A computer will allow you to find solutions for customers quickly and efficiently, but only if you are skilled enough.
Computers and technology in general can be of great help to any customer service representative, but you need to know how to use it properly. If you feel like you could improve your computer skills, take some time to practice off the clock so you can get better.
Another skill that customer service representatives need to possess is flexibility. There are a lot of situations in which satisfying the needs of certain customers may require you to bend the rules just a bit. You cannot please everyone, but the more flexible you are the better off you will be in this line of work. This can be a little bit tricky because it is sometimes difficult to know when to go outside of strict standard operating procedure. The point is that you shouldn’t be too rigid with the customers you deal with, especially when the situation calls for flexibility.
Perhaps the most basic thing that anyone who works in customer service needs is solid communication skills. If you are not able to communicate with customers clearly and concisely, the chances of actually helping them with their problems will be very low. If the customers you are speaking with do not understand what you are saying, you won’t be able to make any progress with them. Customer service workers must be able to communicate ideas in a way that customers understand completely with minimal back and forth.
Being efficient when helping customers is something else that you must do, because otherwise you won’t be able to help very many people in a given day. If you want to tend to as many customers as possible each day, you will need to work as efficiently as possible. You simply will not be able to handle a good number of customers over the course of your shift if you do not work efficiently. This means learning how to solve customers’ problems as quickly and definitively as possible. The less time you have to spend with each customer, the more efficient you are going to be as a whole.
Maintaining a positive attitude throughout all of your interactions with customers will serve you well. It can be easy to get discouraged and become cynical after a while, which is why this skill is such an asset in this line of work. Those who can remain positive and upbeat despite dealing with rude or difficult individuals on a daily basis will do very well in customer service. You will want to keep in mind that your attitude is half the job.
You must be persistent when it comes to solving a customer’s problem, whatever it happens to be. The more persistent you are, the better your chances will be of resolving the issues that the customer has. Sometimes this takes a while, but it’s well worth all of the effort when you consider what a good job you have done by the end. A lot of people tend to get very flustered and pass the problem on to someone else, but this isn’t the right way to deal with customers.
Customer service is all about coming up with creative solutions to problems on a regular basis. Sometimes the answer is very straightforward, but other times you will need to be a little bit creative to get the job done properly. The more creative you are, the easier it will be to solve the problems that people come to you with. Creative problem solving will take you very far in the world of customer service, so you will need to keep this in mind.
Sometimes you will need to be assertive when you are interacting with customers. If a customer does or says something that crosses a line, you must be ready to step up and tell them their behavior is unacceptable. It’s important that you understand the difference between being assertive and aggressive though. You can be assertive while still being respectful, but being aggressive is just rude and unnecessary. The fact is that customers respect representatives that are assertive, so you will definitely need to show this particular trait when speaking with them.
Sense of Humor
One important part of customer service is being friendly, so it pays to have a sense of humor. While it’s true that not every customer you talk with will want to joke around with you, you should be able to implement a little levity when the situation calls for it. You never want to laugh at a customer, but a good sense of humor can be incredibly helpful when you are stuck in a tense situation. It can be difficult to know when to use your sense of humor, but it’s something you will figure out as you go along.
In the case of customer service, being a leader means taking responsibility for your customer’s problems and setting out to resolve them. It is about getting the source of the problem on your own and doing a good job of fixing it. While it’s true that many customer service representatives work with others, it’s still important to have solid leadership skills.
Those who are able to effective manage their own time at work as a customer service representative will be able to work as efficiently as possible. Time management is particularly important in this type of job, so you will need to make a point of using the time you have wisely. There is simply no way that you are going to be truly productive unless you learn how to manage your time effectively.
Outsource Your Customer Service
Even with proper training, not everyone is a good fit for dealing with customers. At AnswerFirst, we know the personality traits and job experience it takes to make an employee an amazing customer service rep. We utilize our knowledge during the hiring process and then further refine candidates by putting them through our industry leading training programs.
The result is an elite team of customer service professionals who are available around the clock to handle our clients’ clients. If you’ve ever considered outsourcing your customer service, contact us to learn more.