17 Customer Service Skills that Your Employees Must Learn

By Eman Azzoz - October 18, 2019

Each career has different skills and traits that can be gained or improved to do the job right. Customer service is one of the jobs that need interacting with people. You represent the business whenever a customer contacts you for a specific problem.

So, customer service is all about communicating with people to help them solve their problems and deal better with the product/service you provide. It's a one-to-one interaction with each customer who reaches you.

In this article, we mention some skills and traits that help employees make customers happy and satisfied.

  1. Empathy
  2. Patience
  3. Clear communication skills
  4. Active listening
  5. Positive thinking
  6. Positive language
  7. Problem-solving
  8. Quick thinking
  9. Creativity
  10. Ability to handle surprises
  11. Work under pressure
  12. Time management skills
  13. Deep knowledge of the product or service
  14. Willingness to learn
  15. Admitting Ignorance
  16. Basic computer skills
  17. Understand customers' behaviors

Empathy

Empathy is the magic that can solve most of customer service issues. Showing concern and understanding customer's situation is the first thing that may absorb customers' anger and open the route for the helping step. Once you empathize with your customer, you show him/her that you are on their side.

Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Damon Richards

Patience

Patience is a logical result of empathy; if you put yourself into others' shoes, you would easily be patient with their negative attitude.

A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.

Moliere

But how would you keep patient when customers are driving you crazy?

They get mad over you, they don't understand the solution you provide, they are impatient, and the list goes on.

Whether you like it or not, you will face different types of difficult customers daily. Angry, complaining, slow, and rude customers are the most common out there. While cool, clever, and polite customers are the rare ones.

Patience is strongly related to tolerance and self-control. The conclusion is to be wise to resolve and patient to perform.

Clear communication skills

Okay, you are cool, and you understand customer's feelings, now what?

Any customer service rep need to explain simple or complicated information to customers through different communication channels. Thus, you need both verbal and written communication skills to solve their issues in a clear and simple way.

Keep it short and simple, avoid ambiguity and industry terms, stress at critical points, and make sure the customer understands what you say by asking questions from now to then.

Active listening

Active listening means to concentrate, understand, and then respond to what you've heard. According to Wikipedia, active listening is used in counseling, training, and solving disputes or conflicts. And that's what you do as a customer service rep.

When to interrupt the customer to calm them down, how to ask clarifying questions when needed, and how to rephrase what you've heard; are all related to the active listening skill.

Positive thinking

What your brain says is the engine for your actions. Self-talk has magnificent power in everybody's life. It's what results in a positive or negative attitude. If you are dealing eight hours five days a week with "Customers' Problems", you may be prey for stress, depression, panic, anger, and most of bad thoughts and feelings if you don't think positively.

Negative thinking is the enemy of rationality. It limits your options, paralyzes your thoughts, and disables you from analyzing the situation.

Those who can free themselves from negative thoughts and keep positive while facing each customer will increase their productivity, decrease stress, and, of course, satisfy customers.

Positive language

This skill is developed by the prev one plus intelligent word choice. It's a basic communication skill that uses the words' weapon wisely. The same meaning may be expressed in different ways generating different feelings in the receiver.

The words, phrases, and questions you choose should lead your customer to see the positive perspective of the situation and develop positive thoughts in their minds.

Problem solving

As we mentioned in the intro, customer service is all about helping people solve their problems. So, technically, you are a problem solver. Problem-solving is the ability to formulate the problem, think of all possible solutions, select the most applicable one, apply it, and check if it solves the problem. Otherwise, provide another solution.

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.”

Steve Jobs

Like most of the skills in our list, problem-solving relates to other skills that are mentioned below.

Quick thinking

"Think fast. Talk smart"

Matt Abrahams

Fast thinking is about processing the inputs you deliver from the outside world quickly and coming up with the proper response in the minimum time. It's highly noticeable at sports where a second is fetal for a goal or point.

Try to imagine yourself at a football team, and you receive the ball, what would you do with it? Would you run with it or would you pass it to another team member?

Understanding the customer's problem, categorizing it, choosing between different solutions, and responding to the customer within the minimum time requires a fast thinker.

Creativity

Sometimes you need to think outside the box and suggest things that aren't written in the documentation.

Coming up with innovative ideas isn't limited to design, marketing, or developing departments; everyone can innovate as long as this innovation is consistent with business values and policies.

Ability to handle surprises

From time to time, you face unusual situations where you don't know what to do. It's not about creativity here; it's about facing the unknown with confidence and wisdom.

Surprises need self-control and a defined flow that shows when and who to ask.

Work under pressure

Let's be clear about that, customer service is one of the most stressful jobs out there. If you get panic whenever the situation gets out of your hand or the workload increases, then you should develop that skill or rethink about going on customer service career.

Work under pressure includes organizing and prioritizing your work when multiple tasks are calling to be done immediately.

Try to go out of your comfort zone and put yourself into difficult situations where you take full responsibility for lots of things at a limited time, then watch yourself in these situations to evaluate your ability to deal with pressure.

Time management skills

"So little time, so much to do"

That's when time management skill araises. How you organize your tasks? How you balance between giving each customer enough time and lowering response time?

In short, how you manage your most valuable resource to service more customers effectively.

Deep knowledge of the product or service

Training is the first thing each customer service rep will have before start working. Knowing the product/service from both customer and employee prospective is essential to understand the customer and be able to help. 

Besides knowing the product/service, you should have deep knowledge about contracts' conditions and business policies. Also, customer service reps should be connected to different departments on the company and be aware of any updates or trends that occur.

Willingness to learn

That's the initial requirement for the previous point. If you aren't eager to learn new things, your knowledge will shrink till being worthless. In a knowledge economy world where mental work roles the market, it's hard to find a work where continues learning isn't required.

As a customer service rep, you will be learning new things about your product/service every day. When new features are added, when the business extends to cover more areas, and when more customers ask about things that aren't in the documentation; you will need to learn more.

Every day is different, and each customer is different. Things improve and change rapidly. And you should be up to date. Also, the work environment should encourage updating customer service reps with news feeds regularly.

Admitting Ignorance

There is a great gap between what you don't know and what you don't know you don't know. The least is what you already know. Knowing what you don't know is the other side of the willingness to keep learning because you can't seek what you don't see.

It might be awkward to admit that you don't know something about the product or service you serve, but it's normal not to know something from time to time. That's why knowing your limits, having the courage to admit that you don't know, and asking for help without beating yourself up will make you a better customer support rep.

Basic computer skills

Even if your product/ service isn't technical, you need to know how to deal with the computer (we are in the computer age after all). Skills like fast typing and data entry are required to help you perform your job faster.

Understand customers' behaviors

Psychologists are doing their best to understand the complicated creature which is called "Human beings". Psychology is used in multiple fields such as marketing, sales, artificial intelligence, and, of cource, customer service.

By understanding human behaviors, you understand yourself and the people you deal with. That benefits you in both your social life and your career as a customer service rep. Once you understand customers' feelings and personalities through their behaviors, you will be able to fulfill their needs in the best way possible.

Final words

Though dealing with customers may be stressful and sometimes hard, it's a great joy when you solve their problems and hear the thank-you phrase from the other side.

Good luck with generating happy customers!