The customer service industry requires employees with a number of soft, or interpersonal, skills. Here are ten soft skills that will benefit you in any customer service job, whether you interact with customers in person, on the phone, or via email. Developing these skills and emphasizing them in a job application and interview will help you rise above the job market competition.
Top 10 Soft Skills for Customer Service Jobs
Clear communication is essential in customer service – you need to know what the customer wants, and be able to articulate what you can do for the customer. Enunciating, speaking loudly enough, and employing an upbeat tone, will help you communicate clearly and positively with your customers. These skills are essential in phone communication as well. If you write or email with customers, be sure to use proper grammar and spelling, and choose words and phrases that convey a similarly upbeat attitude.
Listening skills are just as important as communication skills. Listen carefully to the customer to know exactly what she needs and how you can help her. Demonstrate that you are listening through body language and responses (nod when you understand something, make eye contact, etc.). Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the other person. An important aspect of customer service is simply making the customer feel heard.
People that work in customer service need to be able to calmly handle all customers, even the most negative ones. You must strive to remain calm and cool, even when your customer is not. Patience and self-control will keep you from getting upset and saying something inappropriate.
A positive attitude goes a long way in customer service. Make sure you know all of the benefits of the products or services your company provides, and convey them to your customers. If a customer has a problem with a product or service, focus on what you can do to help him or her. While you don’t want to seem overly happy when a customer is upset, being proactive and optimistic can help a customer stay positive, too.
When dealing with a customer, you want to be able to take control of the situation and do what you need to do in an efficient manner. If you are meek or passive, the customer may not have faith in you. However, you also don’t want to be aggressive or demanding, which can offend customers. By speaking in a strong, steady voice, asking direct questions of the customers, and keeping track of what you need to do, you will convey confidence without being aggressive.
In customer service, you deal with many customers who have a problem that needs to be solved. It is important for you to be a creative problem solver. Always make sure you understand the problem clearly, and offer them possible solutions. Think creatively; often you will need to think of solutions that fit the needs of a specific customer. If you cannot find a solution that works for the customer, help them locate additional help. Follow up with the customer to make sure the issue has been resolved. Customers will appreciate your interest in their problem, and your willingness to help, in whatever way possible.
It is important not only to understand what a customer says, but how a customer feels. An important soft skill is being able to recognize and understand a person’s emotional state. If you struggle to convey empathy, think about being in the customer’s position. How would you feel if you were in her position? How would you like to be treated by an employee? These questions will help you to identify with and better assist your customers.
While you should be friendly with your customers, remember that you are not there to share your life story. When a customer explains an issue they are having, there is no need for you to respond with your own, related problem. A simple “I understand” or “I know how you feel” will make the customer feel understood and appreciated. Customers want you to focus on helping them.
A big part of working in customer service is being able to say, “I’m sorry,” whether it’s for a late shipment or the poor quality of a product. You have to be able to sincerely apologize to a customer on behalf of your company, even when the problem was not your fault.
A sense of humor can make a potentially stressful customer-service interaction more enjoyable. If a customer cracks a silly joke, she will appreciate if you chuckle along with her. However, make sure you are never laughing at a customer (such as when they make a mistake or have trouble with something), but instead laughing with a customer.