The key to a successful business lies the quality of the customer service it provides. Good customer service can lead to repeat customers, positive word-of-mouth, and an overall good reputation.
On the other hand, a single unpleasant encounter can drive your customers toward a rival.
This highlights the influence of superior customer service and why employees possessing excellent customer service skills is essential.
Customer service skills are important for anyone interacting with customers in any capacity, not just those in dedicated customer service roles.
Ensuring customer satisfaction is impossible without providing outstanding assistance.
However, which customer service skills are the most important to look for and teach to your employees? Continue reading to discover which skills are top priority.
What is customer service?
Customer service is the process by which a business aids its customers before, during, and after the customer’s purchase of goods or services. For instance, customer service can take the form of:
- Explaining product features.
- Presenting other products the business offers.
- Advising customers on the appropriate way to use their purchases.
What are customer service skills?
Customer service skills are the essential qualities and abilities needed to effectively and positively interact with customers, resolving their issues and leaving a good impression.
These skills are cultivated through training and hands-on experience.
Customer service skills can be broadly categorized into two main types:
- Hard skills (technical skills): Hard skills include abilities that are teachable and measurable. These skills are often acquired through formal education and training. In customer service, hard skills might involve managing data entry, conducting research, compiling information, or acquiring an in-depth understanding of the products for which they provide support.
- Soft skills (interpersonal skills): These skills include the personal traits that enable someone to interact professionally and harmoniously with others. These skills depend on an individual’s personality, although they can be nurtured through training and will become more refined and natural over time with experience. Key interpersonal skills in customer service encompass active listening, demonstrating empathy, and patience.
Both hard and soft skills are needed for delivering outstanding customer service.
While hard skills provide the technical expertise necessary for the role, soft skills contribute to building positive customer relationships and creating good experiences.
A successful customer service professional typically possesses a balance of both skill sets.
Excellent customer service skills and how to improve them
Every employee who interacts with customers must acquire customer service skills and follow certain customer service tips. The following are key customer service skills and how to improve them.
Persistence is the act of continuing in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition.
To build a good rapport with customers, you need to be persistent in dealing positively with displeased customers, disoriented buyers, replicated inquiries, and never-ending customer queues.
Persist in a positive attitude. If your first efforts to find a solution to a customer issue fail, persist in seeking a new avenue of possibility.
Let your customer know that’s what you’re doing, too.
Tips to improve on persistence:
- Take deep breaths and keep in mind the customer’s attitude is not personal.
- Keep an open mind about potential solutions.
- Relax and think through your actions.
Being kind to your customers maintains a cooperative communication environment.
According to a study by PwC, 42% of survey participants indicate they would be willing to pay a higher price for a pleasant and welcoming experience.
Furthermore, kindness builds a foundation of trust in all the activities you carry out with your customers.
By having your service reps approach interactions with kindness, your service will gain a good reputation for treating customers well.
Service representatives may need coaching on the proper language to express kindness.
Tips to improve on kindness:
- Empathize with customers.
- Learn to answer questions in such a way that doesn’t blame the customers for their issues.
- Learn methods of staying patient.
Curiosity is the urge to know more. For instance, if you are having trouble understanding a customer’s issue, always ask more questions.
By being curious, you can gain a deeper understanding of what the problem is currently, as well as the customers’ needs in general.
While the quality is innate, consciously practicing asking more questions will make it feel more natural over time to service reps without the instinct to do so, giving them more skill.
Tips to improve on curiosity:
- Keep in touch with your customers to make sure solutions worked long-term.
- Have a bank of questions for your customers based on what has helped in the past.
Enthusiasm is excitement to do something. When customers can tell you’re eager to help them, it lowers their stress levels when they contact you for help.
Maintaining enthusiasm for solving problems within your customer service team also makes the job environment more pleasant.
This skill tends to be a team-wide practice of positive attitudes, which can take some work when customers are often negative.
Tips to improve on enthusiasm:
- Try to maintain a positive attitude on the team.
- Celebrate victories.
- Learn to express enthusiasm in your tone, whether in your voice or written words.
- Approach issues with a can-do attitude and expect the same of your team.
Systematically approach solutions
Applying a systematic approach to customer service means approaching every customer’s inquiry with the same process, such as identifying the issue, uncovering circumstances around the problem that may have some effect on the solution, and finally pursuing a solution.
The result at each step, and the customers’ answers to questions, should define the next step, and your support agents should know what that step is.
If they don’t, they should know who to ask.
Tips to improve on your systematic approach to customer interactions:
- Have procedures in place and clear role definitions in your team.
- Implement training on processes and practice scenarios.
- Note every day’s progress for future reference.
Anticipating surprises prepares you to perform any kind of customer service duty, helping build a positive, action-oriented work environment.
By expecting surprises, your team can manage and know how to handle the occasional unique situation.
This leads to less stress and time wasted on not knowing what to do. Looking for issues before they arise can also lead to a proactive approach to finding solutions.
Tips to improve on surprise anticipation:
- Make sure your team knows what to do when encountering unique situations. Instill an attitude where these situations are interesting rather than panic-inducing or inconvenient to supervisors.
- Outline each step of the customer journey when changes are implemented to identify potential pain points. This will help you anticipate where things might go wrong and prepare to help.
- Keep track of trends and changes in your industry that could impact your customers. By being informed, you can anticipate surprises related to market shifts or technological advancements.
The ability to manage time effectively helps customer service representatives meet your service-level agreement with your customers, thus leading to good relations.
Some reps will be better than others at this, but good training and self-awareness can keep them productive and customers satisfied.
Tips to improve on time optimization:
- Set reminders in calendars and use sticky notes if useful.
- Keep in touch with your customers. Keep a schedule for updating them.
- Be friendly but stay on topic during conversations with customers.
By being resourceful, your team can come up with different ideas of how to solve problems, thus enabling you to solve issues faster.
Tips to improve on being resourceful:
- Learn more through reading industry-specific blogs and publications.
- Listen to and ask for other people’s opinions.
- Take the time to familiarize yourself and team with the resources available.
Having full knowledge of the product you support means you can help customers with a variety of questions and issues.
By knowing the ins and outs of the product, you can be a customer resource that can brainstorm solutions alongside the customer, thus building a good reputation for your company’s support team.
Tips to improve on product mastery:
- Read documentation, attend training, and keep updated on industry news.
- Understand how your product is different from competitors’.
- Exercise your knowledge by producing knowledge base documents for your colleagues and customers.
Importance of good customer service skills for support teams
We cannot emphasize the importance of these skills, and here’s why they are crucial for a customer support team:
Customer retention and loyalty
- Happy customers stay. Good service builds trust and fosters positive relationships, encouraging customers to come back for more. Loyal customers are repeat buyers, valuable sources of referrals, and sometimes brand advocates.
- Retaining existing customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones. By minimizing customer churn through good service, your team saves the company money and resources.
Improved sales and revenue
- Excellent service builds rapport, making customers more open to recommendations and additional purchases. A skilled team can identify customer needs and suggest relevant products or services.
- Loyal customers spend more over time, increasing your revenue in the long run. Excellent customer service skills contribute to maximizing the lifetime value of each customer.
Competitive advantage in the market
- Good customer service can be a powerful differentiator in today’s competitive landscape. Customers increasingly value helpful, efficient interactions.
- A team with great customer service skills can easier navigate evolving customer expectations and industry trends.
Brand reputation and advocacy
- Customers associate good service with a trustworthy and reliable brand. When customers experience excellent service, they tell their friends, family, and online communities. This organic buzz builds a brand’s reputation and attracts new customers.
- Positive reviews and ratings on social media and review platforms boost your brand image and build trust with potential customers.
Skilful resolution of conflicts
- Strong customer service skills can help resolve conflicts and handle customer complaints effectively. A well-handled complaint can turn a negative experience into a positive one.
- In times of crisis or when a company faces public backlash, a skilled customer support team can mitigate the situation by providing clear communication and solutions to affected customers.
In summary, essential customer service skills are tools that you can use to deliver the best support experience to your customers.
If the entire support team develops and practices them, your company’s reputation for stellar support will attract more and more customers, helping your business grow.
Try a live demo to witness how BoldDesk by Syncfusion can improve your customer service efforts. You can start a 15-day free trial to try its features yourself. For more information, contact BoldDesk support.
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