9 min read
17 Essential Customer Service Skills and How to Develop Them
What is Customer Service?
Customer service is a resource that provides support to your company’s clients. They are professionals that you can hire internally or through a third party. Customer service agents answer customers’ questions through many outlets, phone, email, chat, and social media. These professionals assure you of numerous qualities like active listening, empathy, problem-solving, and communication. This service will ensure your customers the guide they need to navigate whenever they have a problem. The best thing about having a customer service option is that your company can customize it to its visions and values.
What are Customer Service Skills?
Excellent customer service is the attribute and feature support a business and its employees provide to clients who use their service or buy their product. Every business needs to have the best customer service to be able to have excellent customer satisfaction. To offer the best customer service you must follow these four key aspects.
- Personalized: To provide the best customer service, you must know your customer’s wants and needs. You can gather some information by asking questions, using social media, and providing your customers with seasonal surveys to collect all the necessary information.
- Proactive: Please don’t wait around for customers to reach out, take advantage of all your potential customers and give them a call. Mention everything you need; recommendations or assistance. This action creates customer loyalty.
- Opportune: There are many ways to communicate with your customers, like; phone calls, online chat, email, or in person. Study what your customers prefer in communication tools, so they can always return if needed.
- Professionalism: Being very knowledgeable about the company you own or work for is vital. To help your customers efficiently, you must know about all its products and services.
Why are Customer Service Skills Important?
Businesses thrive because of their excellent reputation. If your clients frequently have bad experiences with you, they will not want to buy your product or use your service. Customer service skills are fundamental because they generate revenue; if your company provides excellent and consistent customer experience, your customer satisfaction rates will instantly increase.
According to many studies, U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to bad customer service, and seven out of ten consumers say they’ve invested more money to do business with a company that provides excellent customer service than one that doesn’t.
Companies must constantly provide support by keeping in touch through monthly newsletters and services, even when clients do not ask for it.
17 Essential Customer Service Skills
To become an experienced customer service agent, you will need a number of skills. In the following list you will find 17 essential customer service skills that will boost your customer service techniques.
1. Active listening
What is active listening? It is the ability to focus 100% by understanding the message and the information and concerns the customer gives and replies with all the information you’ve received during the conversation. It would be best if you made your customer feel heard.
For example: When a patient calls a clinic to make an appointment, the customer service agent should listen and make the customer feel heard. An agent could ask “When would be the best time you would like your appointment? Is this an emergency?” Make them feel like you are concerned, this action will make them stay loyal.
What are adaptability skills? These skills mean that you can adapt to any situation. Being able to work under pressure or quickly respond to your customer inquiries even when it’s challenging conversation. A great way to become more adaptable is to work on your soft skills, communication skills, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.
For example: A customer contacts a dentist’s office and informs them they will run late. As a customer service agent, you must think on your toes and tell them next time that you will send them a message and an email to remind them of their appointment so that they will always be on time.
Becoming patient takes practice. Dealing with all kinds of customers, specifically if they are frustrated, rude, or hard to understand can get frustrating as an agent. As a professional agent you can not get into a heated argument with a customer, if you cannot control your frustration the reputation of the company can diminish. Practicing sympathy with your customers can help you present a positive attitude and will eventually calm them down and honor the fact that you were patient with them.
For example: A customer leaves your hair salon, and it starts to rain outside; they return instead of turning them away. A great way to keep them loyal is by being patient with them and winning them over. “Let’s get that hair fixed right away.” This way, your customer will be satisfied, and you will have kept her loyal to your business.
4. Technical Expert
Every customer service professional must be knowledgeable about the company’s technical side. Agents should be up-to-date on all brand details, the purchasing process, product or service usage, and the company’s policies. Knowing all the company’s details can be a great tool to upsell a product or a service.
For example: A car salesman helps a customer choose which car is the best choice for them specifically. This salesman knew everything about the vehicle, its capabilities, and various details because he was an expert car salesman. This builds clients’ trust, knowing that they are dealing with professionals.
5. Problem-solving skills
Having the skill to solve problems quickly is an essential customer service skill that every agent should have. Picture a customer contacting the business with a problem or a complaint; the only thought going through the customer’s mind is solving this problem as soon as possible. As a professional customer service agent, you are trained to experience hostel customer calls, so you must be patient and compliant and respectfully solve their problem any way you can.
For example: A customer sends a message on the company’s chat and has difficulty logging into their account because they forgot their password. The agent then performs a manual password reset and walks the client through creating a new password so they can log into their account.
Being an expert really helps in problem solving scenarios.
6. Conversational skills
Conversations occur on a daily basis and in many different ways, through numerous platforms and channels. However, good communication skills should be clear and straight to the point. Language plays a huge part in communication; when speaking to your customer, you should inform them of new products and company policies directly and help solve their problems calmly and transparently. Body language should be positive and welcoming when speaking to a customer face-to-face.
For example: When a customer calls to order dinner, your customer service representative answers with a cheerful and welcoming tone that sets the mood for the entire conversation.
7. Time management skills
Every excellent customer service has quick responses to every customer inquiry. Today, customers expect instant replies, specifically on online chat. Providing customers with adequate information is crucial; no one wants to waste their time.
For example: If you are an online representative, you must reply within seconds of your customer’s inquiry. Online chat was created for a faster and more accessible customer experience.
8. Collaboration skills
In the work environment, collaboration occurs when teams work together to achieve the same goal. Good collaboration skills are when you can work well with others and set the same goals and objectives for the company.
For example: Every team member should have a strength the other teammate doesn’t so they can achieve better outcomes. Imagine you and your colleague working on a project, you create the ideas, and they execute them.
9. Writing skills
Writing skills give you the advantage of communicating clearly with customers. Writing is an essential tool used in all companies and corporations worldwide. An agent must have a range of writing skills that can provide more opportunities in any industry to become popular enough to generate new employees and clients.
For example: While applying for any job, an applicant must fill out an application that requires the simplest writing skills.
10. Persuasion skills
Persuasion is a skill people use to convince people to act or agree with an idea they propose. Customer representatives that operate persuasion to persuade customers to purchase a new product or switch phone plans hold great skill. Influencing others to act on actions professionals recommend will significantly impact your company’s sales.
For example: When a customer calls the company’s hotline, an agent helps them with their inquiry, but before they hang up, that agent doesn’t forget to introduce new products and services of the company and persuades that customer to upgrade to a new plan.
11. Creativity skills
Creativity is essential; an agent needs to think on the spot. Using your imagination to create new ideas for the company is an excellent skill. This skill will increase employee attraction and retention, improve teamwork and collaboration, and enhance productivity and problem-solving.
For example: Every week there is a team meeting and your entire team gets together, it’s brainstorming time. You started bouncing off ideas with your teammate and suddenly a new idea comes to mind. Brainstorming is a great way to awaken your creativity skills.
12. Acting skills
Situations where you have to act occasionally happen as an agent during one of your shifts. Sometimes things happen that are outside your control; for example, a customer who is having a bad day and taking it out on you will occasionally occur. Every excellent customer agent needs basic acting skills to keep up with occasional hiccups with a customer.
For example: A customer calls, and it’s your first shift of the day; they seem angry and must calm down. Your first instinct is to try to have them lower their voice, try to console them, and keep stating that they are correct; that is when acting comes in handy. It would help if you remembered the customer is always right, think on your toes, and satisfy your customer.
Open-minded people are known to be good listeners without being judgmental. They picture different opinions and don’t overanalyze them. As an agent, you must be open-minded because you never know who is on the other line, stay professional, and listen. Becoming open-minded means being more insightful about various beliefs, lifestyles, and cultures worldwide. There are many benefits to being open-minded, like gaining compassion for other people, developing great personal confidence, building mental strength and knowledge from the conversations you’ve had, and becoming more honest with your emotions.
For example: As a customer service representative, you will receive many unique encounters. One day, while sitting at your desk at work, a customer comes up and starts speaking a different language that doesn’t seem familiar. This is the time to open your mind and try to calm them down, start trying to communicate, be creative, grab a pen, and start drawing. Maybe in the end you will understand them.
14. Critical thinking skills
Critical thinking is a skill that helps you analyze facts to understand the problem and come to a solution. There is a process with critical thinking; you must gather information and data, ask specific questions and generate possible solutions.
For example: If there is a conflict between two of your team members, you can use critical thinking to understand both points of view and decide which action to take to resolve the problem between them.
15. Ability to read customers
It is crucial that you understand simple principles of behavioral psychology. This knowledge will provide you with an understanding of different customers’ emotional states during a phone or face-to-face interaction. Try to watch for clues while communicating with your customer, read their mood to see which direction your language should take. The ability to read customers will go a long way with them.
For example: A customer couldn’t
A customer service agent always needs to be goal oriented. There is a career path to becoming an agent; you don’t just stop at being an agent. There is always a better position and more to learn. Set a career timeline, set goals, and see what you can achieve. You never know; this could be the encouragement you need.
For example: A great way to achieve your goals is if you can do it as a team. Set a meeting at the beginning of the month with your team, set individual and team goals and encourage each other to achieve them.
17. Tenacity skills
You must be eager to accomplish all your tasks for the day. A great work ethic is a key skill when giving the kind of service that people rave about. This skill will make your customers have positive feedback and will impact the company tremendously.
For example: Whenever an agent finishes their shift, they don’t go home; they stay after hours and work on new ideas to increase product sales.
How to Develop These Customer Service Skills
Here are four tips on how to develop the customer service skills listed in this article.
Learn new skills
You can enhance your skills like empathy and patience with everyone you interact with, in and outside the office. You should also update your product or service knowledge so your solutions will improve when you speak to your customers about their inquiries.
Ask your manager for feedback
Your manager is there for you in any work-related task or interaction. A great way to develop yourself is to send your conversation reports to your manager so they can support you on your strengths and points you need to improve.
Follow up on customer feedback reports
If your employer provides customer feedback forms, take the chance to review them to see what needs to be worked on. Following up on customer’s feedback can benefit you. Also, at the end of every call you can ask your customers for their feedback to see if they were satisfied with their call.
Set career goals
All customer service agents should set years objectives and goals for their career, work at achieving those goals, and learn from them. This is a great way to grow in your field.
An excellent customer service representative has to work on many qualities to ensure 100% customer satisfaction. Using the 17 essential customer service skills, should help grow your customer service career path.
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