Customer service skills – are they underrated?


Customer service skills – are they underrated?

I’m sure you’ve all turned to customer support at least once for help – whether it’s a search for information, a complaint, an internet problem, or something else. What experience have you had in those situations? Did the person on the other side understand your problem, solve it, and be patient and pleasant? That feeling you had during and after your contact with customer service is important!

People who work in customer support should have well-developed so-called customer service skills. If they are nurtured and developed, you will feel that the person on the other side is patient with you, listens to and understands you, and even if your problem is not solved, you will feel good

Although we meet with customer support very often, sometimes even several times during the day, we are often not aware of the skills and knowledge of the people on the other end of the phone, chat, or e-mail.

Customer service is the practice of supporting customers before, during, and after the purchase of a service or product. A customer support person helps the consumer/user to find out how to use the product or service and resolve any errors or defects that may occur. Customer service is the backbone of any company. It is a service, which means genuine human interactions are of the greatest importance.

Customer service skills are traits and practices that equip you to address customer needs and foster a positive experience. In general, customer service skills rely heavily on problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Customer service is often considered a “soft skill,” including traits like active listening and communication. Some of the skills are clear communication, critical thinking, creativity, adaptability, negotiation skills, time management, etc.

However, do you feel that the mentioned skills are desirable, even necessary, outside of customer service positions? For example, sales positions, jobs in the hospitality and service industry in general, or in a marketing agency. For example, if you’re a graphic designer meeting with your client about their latest project understanding what good customer service takes can help you.

On the other hand, if you don’t have an outward-facing job, then you might not think it’s important to improve your customer service skills. Well, think again. Throughout your career, you’re likely to experience numerous professional situations that require good customer service skills. For example, you might have to fill in for a colleague who usually handles customer inquiries. Your boss could ask you to participate in a meeting with a client, which means you should be able to field questions and provide information or even to propose a solution to a problem.

Therefore, whether you formally work in customer service or not, you need to have a basic understanding of customer service skills. Whatever your department, seniority or industry may be, you’re responsible for the experience your customers have with your company, which is why you should be concerned with your customer service skills. In addition, sometimes the users are actually your colleagues – and then you also need to have an understanding of their needs, to be able to hear their opinion, and criticism, help them better understand a topic and successfully solve a problem.

How can customer service skills be improved?

Anyone can benefit from improving their customer service skills. Being a good communicator, having empathy, and actively listening, for example, will help you be a better employee and colleague overall.

Let’s mention some of the customer service skills that can be useful for different professions:

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotions and perspective. Have you ever been on the phone with customer service and wanted to shout ‘Put Yourself In My Position!’? You were asking the other person for empathy. When you empathize with another person, you try to imagine how you would feel if you were them. Empathy is a powerful tool you can benefit from in contact with others. It changes relationships for the better, even short-term relationships such as when you are dealing with upset, embarrassed, or angry end-users or other customers. Customer service is more than just solving technical problems. It’s also about building good relationships with customers and co-workers.

Great customer service requires patience in communication when helping others meet their needs. The ability to stay calm and keep from taking things personally will help diffuse tense situations with angry customers, clients, or co-workers.

Active listening
Active listening can help you better understand what your customer feels, wants, and needs. To practice active listening, pay close attention to what the customer is saying, and take note of their body language and tone. Ask follow-up questions to make sure you understand the other side. Paraphrase – repeat what you heard in your own words, to confirm that you understand the other party well. Wait until they’re done speaking to come up with your response.

Clear communication
Ensure you convey to customers exactly what you mean. The ability to communicate clearly when working with customers is a key skill because miscommunication can result in disappointment and frustration. The best customer service professionals know how to keep their communications with customers simple and leave nothing to doubt.
Whenever you are dealing with people frequently on the job, verbal and written communication skills become very important. Being able to effectively communicate your ideas, a company policy or a resolution to an issue helps the customer feel like they are being cared for well and you have their best interest in mind.

Best customer service professionals have a deep knowledge of how their companies’ products work. After all, without knowing your product from front to back, you won’t know how to help when customers run into problems.

Time management
In both customer service and life skills, the ability to manage time efficiently affects productivity at work and can mean the difference between a satisfied customer excited for their next visit or an unsatisfied client waiting to speak to management. Things take time — usually more time than we realize. In order to become an effective team member, it’s important to learn to estimate how much time a solution will take, how much it will cost, and how many other things you have to deal with.

Anyone may develop customer service skills and build customer loyalty as well as foster strong relationships among employees and teams. It is likely you already possess some of these skills or simply need a little practice to sharpen them.

With focus and determination, you can work to enhance the skills you need to be effective at customer service. Problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and optimistic thinking are traits that, when consistently practiced, can help you be an efficient attendant and a great co-worker. Consider the following suggestions to improve your customer service job skills.

  • Ask for feedback from colleagues and listen closely, as they can provide insight you may have missed in a self-evaluation.
  • Also, ask for feedback from customers or clients. Keep track of your feedback, and reflect on it with each new round to get an idea of your improvement.
  • You can practice skills like active listening and patience with everyone on and off the job, including colleagues and customers. You may also find that improving your knowledge of the service or product your employer offers improves your ability to resolve issues with customers.
  • Look for ways to practice your skills outside of work by volunteering or seeking continuing education courses or training.
  • Don’t forget that every new experience with people can be a field where you can develop and improve these skills.

How do HR recruiters screen customer service skills?

So, since these skills are widely applicable and desirable in various professions, recruiters attach great importance to them. It is not always necessary that these skills are stated in the job requirement, but the fact is that they are desirable. Also, service delivery skills can be an indicator of the ability to successfully establish relationships with people and professionalism in performing work.

Recruiters, therefore, pay attention to these skills during the entire process of recruiting and selecting candidates. They are quite noticeable already at the first contact when the candidate responds to an email or phone call. Then, during the interview, we can notice how attentive and active the candidate is as a listener, in what way and how clearly he communicates, and even how he shows empathy. Also, based on certain situational questions, the way a person solves a problem or manages challenging situations with clients can come to the front.

To sum up everything

During our careers, it is almost impossible to avoid interacting with people. In addition to handling customers and clients, we must also be able to work as a team. You will be dealing with all kinds of people with different personalities. With a heterogeneous group of individuals, there are bound to be differences. Having customer service skills allows you to troubleshoot and resolve issues in a professional manner. This holds especially true for high-tension situations.

The effort to develop your customer service skills can only become your relationship strength and a great asset in any business context you find yourself in.