Customer service skills are so important for businesses to get right because of its undeniable ability to help you maintain your existing customers and acquire new clients. Effective customer service doesn’t happen by throwing one of your employees on the phone or at the front desk and having them deal with customers.
Ensuring your customer service representatives have the right skillsets to be able to take on the most complicated and the most difficult of customers is going to make a big difference. PwC found that 54% of consumers in the U.S. believe customer experience at most companies needs improvement. To help you determine what customer service skills can help you make the most difference, here is a list of 20 skills every customer service rep should have.
Essential Customer Service Skills
1. Understand the Customer
Customer service reps shouldn’t just find out what the problem is and determine a solution, though that is important. Your reps should truly understand their customer. Remember that they are human and have emotions. They may be beyond frustrated with your company or your product. Your employees should empathize with these customers, let them know it is understandable that they are frustrated, and tell them they will do whatever it takes to make it better. Ultimately, they are finding out the problem and giving a solution, but with a human element.
2. Product Knowledge
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is for your customer service reps to understand your product or service backward and forward so they can quickly and efficiently provide solutions without having to look them up or ask other people. A knowledgable employee will help put a customer at ease.
3. Listening Skills
Make sure you spend the time to actively listen to what your customer needs. Don’t just assume based on the problem with the product that you understand the issue entirely until you listen to them intently. They may be having doubts about your entire company. Listening to them can go a long way.
4. Time Management
Time management may be one of the most mysterious of customer service skills for many. However, time management is very important to make sure you can spend the appropriate amount of time with each of your customers and do the administrative work that goes along with your day.
5. Problem-Solving Skills
Along with all of the people skills you should have, problem-solving also needs to be in the mix. With effective problem-solving skills, you should be able to quickly determine solutions for just about any problem your customer comes to you with. Rather than just having the knowledge of possible solutions, you need to be able to think on your feet about the best way to solve problems.
6. Dealing with Your Own Emotions
This may be one of the most difficult customer service skills to have. If you have a sick child and didn’t get any sleep, plus someone cut you off on the highway on your way into work, it can be difficult to put all that aside. However, as soon as you face that customer or pick up that phone, all that personal stuff needs to be put aside.
7. A Lot of Patience
Unfortunate, but true, your customer service reps are going to need to have a lot of patience. They may deal with a customer that is so irate and irrational that it doesn’t matter if you offer them free service for a year, they are still going to be flying off the handle. This is when patience becomes your best friend. Instead of getting irate right along with them, let them know what you can do for them and wait patiently as they eventually de-escalate enough to have a civil conversation.
8. Always Be Attentive
This may be most difficult in times that you need to have patience as well. Being attentive means that you’ll need to be focused on your customer even as your phone is ringing with another customer, your co-workers are shouting questions at you, and your boss is breathing down your neck. Pay attention to your customer and it will be noticed and appreciated.
It may be tempting to talk to someone who is so similar to yourself as a friend and relax your tone and your language around them because “they get it.” Don’t. Always maintain your professionalism at work, especially with your customers.
10. Creative Thinking
This one may seem out of the ordinary, but thinking creatively can help you bring together many of the other customer service skills mentioned here. If you are able to problem-solve, understand the unique needs of your customers, check your attitude at the door, and think positively, you’ll be able to make connections to help your customers much more effectively. Think outside-the-box and find solutions that will make everyone happy.
11. Clear Communication
Misunderstandings happen. Clear communication can alleviate most of them. If you let your customer know that you are “free,” meaning you are free of other obligations, but there is a charge to your service, you’re going to cause some misunderstandings. Make sure you communicate clearly. In this instance, let them know you are “available.”
12. Use Positive Language
Instead of saying, “we might be able to do that, but it won’t be easy,” try, “we can certainly try everything we can to make that happen.” You’re not making promises, but you are using positive language.
13. Understand Human Psychology
There is much to understand about human psychology in customer service. For example, Entrepreneur contends that people are more interested in themselves than they are you. So, instead of talking about yourself or your company or the many accolades about your product, talk about them. What do they like or dislike? What would they want to see in order to improve their satisfaction? Seems simple enough, but isn’t as intuitive as other customer service skills.
14. Willingness to Learn
This goes for both learning about products and solutions as well as learning about customers and their needs. For a customer service rep to be willing to learn instead of sitting back and waiting for the information to get to them can go a long way.
15. Understand the Guidelines
While you may have a good understanding of the products and solutions, it’s also very important to know what the guidelines are so you know what protocols to follow and not break any important ones mistakenly.
16. Confidence Matters
Confidence is one of those customer service skills that may seem like you either have it or you don’t. However, as long as your customer service reps know their products and know their customers, they can have the confidence they need to make quick, educated decisions.
17. Responding Quickly
There are a number of ways to respond to customers these days. When they get in touch with a concern or comment via phone, email, chat, social media, or whatever, make sure you respond to them quickly. The timing of your response may change depending on the channel, for instance, a chat conversation should be replied to immediately, whereas a social media comment can be attended to within a few hours.
18. Positive Attitude
Choosing to have a positive attitude will help you with every one of your customer interactions. Putting your personal struggles aside and wearing a smile will help you have a positive attitude. You don’t actually need to be in a good or positive mood, you just need to choose to portray it outwardly. You may be surprised, your actual mood may change.
Being authentic with your customers is very effective. There’s a big difference between “putting on a happy face” to exude a positive attitude and being completely fake. Be you. Just be the nicest version of you.
20. Teamwork Skills
The ability to work with your teammates, bosses, and others is very important in order to have a complete set of customer service skills.
Customer Relationship Management
In order for your customer service teams to be able to maintain their skills, manage their customer relationships, and have enough time for the administrative tasks, customer relationship management (CRM) software can help.
Agile CRM is one such solution that can put all of your customer representatives’ information at their fingertips for every transaction. Plus, its automation features will help save time and money.
American Express completed a study that concluded that 33% of consumers would consider changing companies after only one instance of poor service. Losing one-third of your customers because of a misinformed or grumpy customer service representative would be devastating. Make sure your team maintains these customer service skills and keep all of your customers satisfied.
If you would like to see if Agile CRM can help your reps with their customer service, try it for free for the first 10 users.