Working a customer service job requires a certain set of abilities known as soft skills. Having the right soft skills can equip your employees to assist customers, create memorable experiences, and do their jobs more effectively. After all, as customer service professionals, your employees are responsible for giving customers helpful advice, ensuring that clients walk away satisfied, and representing your company in a positive light. Discover the key customer service skills for success and find out how to help employees improve theirs.
10 Essential Customer Service Skills
While your customer service employees may need technical skills like computer literacy and data entry, they also need soft skills to excel at their jobs. Make sure they've mastered the essential customer service skills below.
1. Communication Skills
When your employees work directly with customers, clear communication is essential. Your employees need to know how to share relevant information and answer questions verbally. They should know how to discuss products using terms that every customer can understand, and they should be able to reply to inquiries without hesitation. If they provide customer service via email or through online chat applications, your employees should be able to provide the same level of communication in writing.
2. Listening Skills
Although speaking clearly is an important component of communication, listening is just as critical. To communicate effectively, your employees should also know how to listen to customers when they ask questions or voice concerns. In most cases, effective listening requires tuning out distractions, understanding both the content and the context of the conversation, and assessing the customer's tone of voice. If your employees provide online customer service, they may also need to practice their reading skills.
Customer service employees have the potential to interact with people who are in a wide range of moods or who are dealing with a long list of challenges. To have the best possible interactions with challenging clients, customer service employees need empathy. They have to do their best to understand their customers' feelings and assess what their clients need to resolve a situation in a satisfactory way. Even when customer service employees can't fix a situation completely, empathy can help them demonstrate genuine care and concern.
When your customer service employees answer the same questions or handle similar issues all day, every day, they might get bored or lose patience. If they regularly work with angry customers or clients who have had to endure lengthy wait times, they might be the target of a lack of patience regularly. Even when they encounter impatient customers, your employees should strive to stay in control of themselves. When they maintain patience, they're more likely to resolve issues effectively and make customers happy.
5. Positive Attitude
Working a customer service job can be uniquely challenging, especially if clients tend to be demanding or critical. One of the best ways to counteract negativity and leave customers satisfied is to have a positive attitude.
When practicing positivity, your employees should focus on upbeat language that highlights solutions and possibilities rather than inaction and frustration. When serving customers in person, your employees should also take care to use positive body language, which includes smiling, making friendly eye contact, and standing straight.
6. Product Knowledge
Whether clients want to compare multiple products as they decide which to purchase, get help with a malfunctioning product, or access in-depth information about services, customer service employees have to be able to answer these questions accurately. They should have a deep knowledge of every product or service your company sells. Customer service employees who don't understand the products they represent are likely to make confused clients more frustrated. In contrast, knowledgeable employees can help customers get more value from products and feel more confident in their purchasing decisions.
While being too assertive has a tendency to escalate situations, showing just the right amount of confidence can help customer service employees handle situations more effectively. Being confident lets employees take charge of situations, which tends to inspire trust in customers. When customers have a higher level of trust in an employee, it reflects positively on the company and can contribute to a more satisfactory resolution for everyone.
Although customer service employees may not have extensive sales training, they should have basic persuasion skills. In many cases, customers who ask questions or seek support are also considering making purchases. When customer service employees have the ability to answer questions, resolve problems, and gently persuade clients to make purchases, they can make customer experiences even better while benefiting the company's bottom line.
9. Conflict Resolution
To provide effective customer service, employees must know how to resolve conflicts successfully. They should understand how to identify problems, assess possible fixes, select the best solution, and implement the option that's likely to produce the optimal results. When employees master the art of solving conflicts quickly and effectively, they can make customers happier, which benefits your business.
No matter how calm and collected your employees might be, working in customer service can inspire constant surprises. If your employees only understand one way to resolve a situation or reach a goal, they might get frustrated quickly. In contrast, if they're flexible, they can adapt to almost any situation while guiding it toward an appropriate resolution.
How to Improve Customer Service Skills
Your employees may not have perfected their customer service skills yet, but that doesn't mean they can never learn these important capabilities. Encourage them to take the steps below to improve their customer service skills.
Encourage Employees to Ask for Feedback
One of the best ways for employees to develop their customer service skills is to request feedback. Consider allowing employees to ask customers directly about the level of service they provided. Alternatively, you can set up a system for monitoring employee performance and providing feedback on a consistent basis. You can even establish customer service goals and use feedback to determine their improvement. No matter which method you choose, remind your employees not to take the feedback personally, and to use it to improve their skills instead.
Invite Employees to Read Reviews
If you don't want your employees to get feedback directly from customers, consider requesting that clients leave anonymous reviews instead. Then invite your employees to read the reviews regularly so they can identify what makes customers happy or dissatisfied. Encourage your employees to identify the qualities that satisfied customers mention regularly, so they know which skills to prioritize.
Let Employees Practice On and Off the Job
Your employees may struggle to improve their customer service skills if they never have an opportunity to test them out. Try letting them practice their product knowledge and conflict resolution skills during each shift so they can advance their skills. You can also encourage them to use key skills like confidence and positivity during their downtime, so they'll be ready to put them into practice at work.
Improving soft skills takes dedication, but with a little effort, your employees can tackle the 10 essential customer service skills for success. With your encouragement, you can help them acquire the customer service skills they need to do their jobs well and represent your company in the best possible light.