7 key skills for customer service jobs
Types of customer service jobs
Customer service itself can mean a variety of things. Job types can include customer service representatives, receptionists, or call centre operators. A lot of jobs in hospitality like guest services also revolve around customer service.
So what happens in a customer service role? A lot of it is interacting directly with people. Whether it’s in person, on the phone, through email or online chat, a customer service rep listens and attends to a customer or client’s needs.
As a customer service rep, you’ll need to relate to others on a personal level. This shows that you are attentive and care about the customer’s needs (even if you don’t actually care). You represent your company, and this applies to any member of the team. As the face of the company, offering a good experience and interaction for the customer is what you should aim for. This gets the customer to trust in the company more, and your great service can help build customer loyalty.
Because of how much human interaction you’ll be doing, this makes the job require mostly soft skills. You’ll probably need some tech and computer admin skills here and there, but it’s mostly focused on interpersonal skills. Here are 7 skills required for a customer service job. These include soft skills that help you work better with people, both people on your team and customers you meet on the job.
1. Listening skills
When you’re attending to a customer, it’s important to listen and show that you’re listening as well. By knowing exactly what they need, you’ll be able to find the right solution to their problem.
The other thing is showing that you’re listening. One thing that customers definitely don’t love is being ignored or feeling overlooked when they’re trying to find help. That’s why you have to use your body language and verbal responses to demonstrate that you’re actively listening. Nodding, making eye contact, asking questions are all good communications habits to keep. If you’re talking to someone on the phone, you could make small verbal acknowledgements and ask questions to keep the conversation going. Only small ones though, as you don’t want to rudely interrupt the person on the line.
2. Communication skills
A conversation is only made better with good communication skills. And clear conversation is crucial for customer service. Your communication skills can help you efficiently express yourself to the customer, and offer them the help that they need.
Communication skills are especially important for phone conversations, even for email and online chat too. Because the customer can’t see your body language, you’ll need to pay attention to the language that you’re using. Speak loud enough and choose your words carefully to convey a cheery tone.
For email and online chat, you may want to use appropriate words and phrases in proper length sentences. Being polite and attentive is the key to nailing online communication.
3. Positive attitude
Sometimes it’s quite daunting to deal with customers who are upset or even angry. But keeping a positive and upbeat attitude while carefully dealing with their problems can really help.
Positivity can be infectious, so your customer’s mood could improve by interacting with you. Of course, you should also focus on how you can help them. A solution to their problem would be the best mood booster. Just don’t appear to be too cheery, as that can come across as fake and pretentious.
Maintaining a positive attitude requires a level of emotional intelligence and adaptability to new events. You can work on this by being observant and try to pick up on other people’s nonverbal cues to understand. Having a sense of humour can certainly come in handy with this as well.
4. Conflict resolution
Being a creative problem solver is a very big part of a customer service job. You have to find ways to fit the certain needs of a customer to solve their problems. You’ll also need to be prepared to deal with angry or difficult customers
Sometimes the situation is out of your reach and the solution is beyond what you can do for the customer. You have to be able to utilise your conflict resolution skills to come up with something to keep everyone happy. In these scenarios, you might have to try to stand your ground as well.
The ability to recognise and understand someone’s emotional state is what you need to understand the customer’s perspective. This way you can better tailor your attitudes and behaviour to give them the ideal experience.
Having empathy allows you to think in the customer’s perspective. Think about what they would want, and how they would want to be treated. Then you can figure out how you can offer a better customer service experience.
In terms of customer service, proactivity involves anticipating the customer’s needs. Now this doesn’t mean trying to develop clairvoyance, it just means that you should try to provide something that the customer might also need. This comes hand in hand with knowing the product or service well enough to be able to use it well. By doing so, it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile for the customer, which can really elevate their experience.
Also, try not to seem passive or timid. This comes off as indifference or low confidence. Customers may think that you are not capable enough, and you may be met with the dreaded “can I speak to the manager?”
Speak confidently in a steady tone, loud enough for the customer to hear you. Direct communication and strong eye contact is key.
7. Sense of responsibility
Take charge of your work. Having a strong sense of responsibility to your work not only shows how dedicated you are to the job, but also the customer. This sometimes involves owning up to mistakes.
Mishaps do happen from time to time, and you’re lucky enough to be the first point-of-contact when a customer has a problem. Even if it’s not your fault, you still have to apologise on behalf of the company. It’s really all about making the customer feel validated, after all.
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