10 Crucial Customer Service Skills
November 28, 2022 •Andrew Reiter
In a competitive and saturated market, customer service is becoming increasingly important when it comes to standing out. But what is customer service? Customer service refers to the qualities and practices that give your team the tools they need to create a positive experience.
Your digital customer experience can have a huge impact on your overall success. Eighty-nine percent of consumers are more likely to return to a business after a positive customer service experience. On the flip side, a negative customer experience can do damage to a company’s reputation, as 61 percent of consumers would never return to a brand after a poor experience.
Customer service is a highly interpersonal trait that requires understanding verbal and nonverbal cues. However, superb customer service is still a mix of soft and hard skills. Digital customer service is nuanced. Here are some of the top customer service skills to make customers feel seen, heard, and valued—and keep them coming back.
1. Active Listening
A great digital customer experience doesn’t just mean listening to customer problems or concerns. It’s about connecting with real people and paying careful attention to what they need, being able to sum up important information and understanding how to respond to customer emotions throughout.
Active listening can help you figure out how to best serve your customers. Here are a few tips for active listening:
- Let the customers talk—give them a chance to express all of their concerns.
- Listen fully, instead of thinking about what you are going to say next, and make sure you understand exactly what they want and need.
2. Effective Communication
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as the feeling you’ve been misunderstood, which is why effective communication is so essential. Great customer service professionals know how to keep communication simple and clear. This is chiefly important in digital communication, where messaging is a critical pillar of the customer experience.
Consumers want clear, concise answers and to know exactly where they are in the process of finding a solution. For example, if a customer wants to know why their package is late, they don’t need every minute detail, but they do need clear information on when they can expect their shipment.
3. Problem-Solving Skills
Part of a great customer experience is discerning exactly what the customer wants, even when they can’t communicate it clearly, then figuring out how to help them achieve their final goal. It means having strong problem-solving skills.
One example? A customer struggling to reset their password doesn’t just want to reset their password; they want to log into their account. Instead of just telling them how to reset their password, you could manually reset it for them, provide new login information, and even inform the user on how to address the issue should it happen again in the future.
Patience is invaluable when it comes to customer service. Consumers who are reaching out often are frustrated or confused, so professionals need to meet these emotions with patience to alleviate their concerns.
Patience means truly listening to what customers’ problems are, as well as what they need. Your team should be happy to take the time to hear what they have to say and resolve the issue at hand. When a customer is shooting off a long list of concerns, they must be met with patience—even if emotions are heightened.
5. Knowledge of Products and Services
Customer service requires having a deep knowledge of your products and services. Not only does this help your customer experience team solve customer issues, but it can also help them upsell or cross-promote products and services authentically.
Your digital customer experience team should be experts on your brand, what you do, and what you offer. That’s how you cultivate successful, positive customer service interactions. It’s like having a comprehensive playbook to address even the most complex issues and advocate for your customers’ needs.
6. Positive Attitude
Sometimes, customers get frustrated, or even angry. The most important thing your team can do is stay positive, even when customers are disgruntled. This may not only help solve the problem at hand, but can turn a customer’s day around, restore confidence in your brand, and build lifelong customer loyalty. Conversely, meeting frustration with frustration or spite will only increase a customer’s dissatisfaction.
What does this mean? Positive language, patience, empathy, and understanding should all be a significant part of customer service and customer experience training. Customer service training is an indispensable way to prepare your team to stay positive, even in the face of unhappy customers.
7. Adaptability and Resourcefulness
CX experts agree that adapting to what customers need from moment to moment is a major priority for a brand’s digital customer experience. Being agile and resourceful is essential to seamlessly meet the needs of customers—and it may mean thinking outside the box to come up with the right solutions. Being adaptable also means being able to embrace change behind the scenes as technology evolves.
8. Willingness to Learn
Your customer service team may not know all the ins and outs of every product (yet) or all the technical solutions at their disposal. However, they should be willing to learn about them to fill in the gaps. This also extends to:
- Learning how to be a better communicator
- When to follow protocol and when to think creatively to solve problems
- Discovering new technologies and different solutions
Even the best team members have room to improve. If you’re looking to build a team that’s a key part of your CX strategy; a team that can go anywhere, they need to be willing to learn and grow.
9. Emotional Intelligence
Customer service calls for empathy, without taking things personally so that you can understand what each individual needs, figure out what to prioritize, and how to best help them.
If a customer service representative can show empathy, customers will feel heard and valued, which makes it much easier to address an issue successfully and positively. It humanizes both sides and helps agents deliver a more personalized, tailored solution.
10. Time Management
Stellar customer service representatives have a strong grasp of time management. This is not just better for your bottom line, consumers expect fast resolutions. Seventy-three percent of customers prioritize quick solutions and 59 percent want expedited answers.
Time management can also be a technical solution; customer service agents need software that makes these quick resolutions possible. This may look like pre-drafted responses and messaging channels, and even AI-enabled chatbots, but customer service agents should also value time management.
Your Customer Service Partner
At RUI, we value exceptional customer service as much as you do—and we’re here to be your CX strategy partner.
To learn more about how we can enhance your customer service experience, connect with our team today.