Since you’re reading this post, it’s very likely that you’re considering a career in customer service — though you could be an employer looking to hire some top-notch customer service representatives for your team. Either way, it’s essential to know what makes a fantastic customer service professional, as it’s a trickier industry than many assume.
After all, there’s a lot more to it than robotically answering phone calls or wheeling out canned responses in live chat windows. It’s a tough job that many get wrong, and having the right skills can make the difference between solidifying a customer’s loyalty and having to field their complaint. But what are the right skills?
In this post, we’re going to cover five essential skills that every good customer service worker needs. This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but anyone who possesses each of the following five skills has the potential to do well in customer service. Let’s begin.
In the often-brutal world of customer service, professionals are called upon to juggle numerous tasks and priorities. These can include handling incoming calls, responding to emails, and managing escalated issues. To provide customers with the best possible experience, it’s crucial to develop effective time management skills that enable you to balance these competing demands and ensure timely responses.
One way to get better at managing your workload effectively is to get into the habit of setting yourself goals and deadlines. This can help you focus on the most pressing tasks and keep you making steady progress. Additionally, using organizational tools (such as to-do lists, calendars, and project management software) can help you keep track of your tasks and deadlines, ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks.
Finally, it’s essential to know when to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you’re the sort of person who tends to try to do everything solo, keep in mind that good customer support demands collaboration. Get out of that habit and get used to the idea of reaching out to your colleagues or supervisor for support when necessary.
It’s an obvious thing to note, but customer service professionals have to interact with people every day. They may need to talk on the phone, in person, by email, or through social media. And then there’s live chat, something that’s increasingly common at all levels of business (due in no small part to the affordability of modern chat tools, e.g. live chat software by Crisp). Can all these engagements be managed without strong communication skills? Not for very long, assuredly, because the cavalcade of upset customers will inevitably take its toll.
But what does communication as a skill involve? Firstly, above all else, it involves listening. Listening closely and understanding exactly what a customer is saying is a mission-critical concern. If you don’t know how to parse a complaint, or when to ask a clarifying question, you’ll never be able to help them. It’s an impassable obstacle.
Then, once you’ve grasped the crux of their concerns, you need to be able to respond in a clear and concise way. Using simple language, avoiding industry-specific jargon and maintaining a positive tone are all crucial components of delivering an effective response. It isn’t just about addressing their issue: it’s also about making them feel heard and valued. Ultimately, mastering the art of nuanced communication will enable you to better connect with your customers and provide more personalized and satisfying experiences.
Customer service representatives often have to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to a variety of issues, and this fast-paced problem-solving process starts with the ability to analyze a situation quickly and effectively. You need to be capable of gathering all relevant information and asking clever questions to get the most significant answers.
Once you have the information you need, you have to consider multiple solutions, weighing the pros and cons of each option to choose the best course of action based on the unique needs of the customer and the policies of your company. The ability to anticipate potential outcomes isn’t something that comes naturally to many people, so it typically takes effort.
And when something goes awry (as it surely will), you need to be able to change course. This might mean trying a different tactic, seeking input from colleagues, or even escalating the issue to a higher authority within the company. Ultimately, the goal is to resolve the customer’s issue as efficiently and effectively as possible, and that takes innovative thinking and adaptability.
Empathy is another crucial skill for customer service professionals. When customers ask for help, they’re often feeling frustrated or upset. Instead of ignoring this, customer service representatives should recognize and acknowledge those emotions: in doing so, they can show that they genuinely understand what the customers are dealing with.
The more empathy a support assistant can extend to a customer, the stronger a rapport they can build with them, and that rapport is vital in creating a positive customer experience. Easy engagement makes customers feel more comfortable and supported during the problem-solving process. It also helps them feel more at ease when sharing their concerns.
Overall, empathy is a key component of any successful customer service interaction. If you don’t have the skill to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and build an understanding of their emotions and drives, you should aim to cultivate it. Thankfully, this is quite an easy thing to work on, as you can broadly develop it in your personal life.
Even if you enjoy it, the reality is that customer service can be challenging and sometimes even emotionally draining. You might have to deal with angry or upset customers, navigate difficult situations, or face criticism from your peers or managers. In such scenarios, it’s crucial to have a thick skin and the ability to bounce back from adversity.
Due to this, you need to view resilience as a skill: something to hone through developing coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. There’s value in practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques: learning to breath well and taking up meditation can help you maintain a sense of calm no matter what’s going on around you, setting you up for high-pressure situations.
So there you have it – five essential skills for a customer service role. If you’re looking to break into this field, putting effort into developing these skills will set you on the path to success. Good luck!