These 25 customer service must-have skills are what you should have in order to excel in the customer service industry. Customer service professions are one of the most difficult professions in the world. This is because the jobs revolve around dealing with people and human beings can be very complicated to deal with.
It is therefore important to master some skills that can help you become better at dealing with people as well as maintaining your mental health along with the pressures that come with the job. What are the 25 customer service must-have skills you need to excel in this field of expertise?
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #1: Adaptability
Adaptability is one of the key aspects of having a good career in customer service. As a rule, you cannot make any changes to your life or your career unless you are able to adapt. This is why it is essential to keep on learning and keeping up to date with developments in customer service trends.
One good example of why adaptability is important is what happened this year. Without enough time to prepare, customer service agents were deployed to work from home. Most people had never experienced this type of setting up and adapting to the changes was difficult for most people. It is possible that up until now, some people are still trying to adapt.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #2: Willingness to learn
Having the willingness to learn is one of the customer service must-have skills. It is a very important quality. In this competitive environment, it’s essential to have the ability to adapt and learn when the going gets tough. Customer service trends are ever-changing. This is why having the willingness to learn is so important.
There are training programs that can help you become a better, more successful customer service professional. These programs can help you improve your skills, help you learn new ways to apply what you know, and most importantly, help you develop a positive attitude towards your career.
You don’t have to be an exceptional person to become a better employee. All it takes is the willingness to learn and a good coach.
For more on learning and employee engagement listen to this podcast with Jim Harter, Chief workplace Scientist with Gallup.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #3: Tenacity
Tenacity does not always have to come from you. Sometimes it will need to come from someone else. This person is called a mentor. Find a mentor in customer service and ask them about your career goals and how they managed to achieve theirs.
Finding a mentor can take time and you should expect to have to give something up, but you will be greatly rewarded for what you give up.
There is a lot of sacrifices involved in this process, but you will be much more likely to stay on track if you have a personal and professional support system in place.
For more on tenacity listen to this podcast with Claudette Rowley.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #4: Be Persuasive
Persuasion is a skill that is very useful. Many people get a job in customer service without actually knowing how to be persuasive in their job. This is because many people do not realize how powerful persuasion is.
The first thing that you need to realize is that there are many things in your life that you are able to change with the help of your persuasive skills. However, you also need to make sure that you do not overuse your persuasive skills. This is because you do not want to appear as someone who is too pushy.
You want people to think that you are giving the best advice for the position that you’re applying for, and therefore you will need to make sure that you do not use your persuasion skills to push other people towards a job that you know they would never consider.
For more on ethical persuasive tactics listen to my podcast featuring Louis Carter.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #5: Empathy
People often wonder how their empathy is so important because they feel that as long as they are offering a good product or service, customers will keep coming back. But there are times when your customers need you to listen and understand them.
To get customers to stay, you need to build trust, and trust is built on what your customer is willing to do for you. When they are willing to buy from you again, they become happy customers.
It does not matter what products or services you offer, it is what you do in response to the customer’s needs that will determine whether your business succeeds or fails.
For more on empathy listen to this podcast episode with Bob Quinn.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #6: Be Goal-Oriented
If you are going to be successful in the customer service industry you need to have a very defined plan and you need to have the motivation to work towards a particular goal. When it comes to your career then you also need to set out what it is that you want to achieve from it. That way you can move forward with the right attitude.
As a manager or supervisor be sure to create an environment where your agents are motivated to achieve their goals, which will ultimately give you the motivation to stay on track as a team.
If you go back to the past records then you will find that the people who achieve success in customer service have done so consistently and they know exactly how to set their targets and go about achieving them.
For more on how you can be more goal-oriented listen to this Fast Leader Show episode with Julie Winkle Giulioni.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #7: Emotional Intelligence
In this age of technology and globalization, the importance of emotional intelligence in a career is on the rise. When one talks about emotional intelligence, what comes to your mind first?
For example, Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychologist from Cornell University, defines emotional intelligence as a set of skills that includes empathy, self-monitoring, the ability to change a plan once it has been established, and persistence in changing. These are skills that can help you in career advancement.
A job as a customer service representative can be very complex. This is because it involves dealing with people and people can be complicated. Sometimes you can receive calls from customers that are furious, rude, or inconsiderate, this is where emotional intelligence comes into play. You need to be able to remain professional and polite through all those situations.
For more on emotional intelligence listen to the podcast episode with Scott Warrick.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #8: Good Time Management
The ability to manage time in a customer service setting is an important skill for success. Management of time is something that all people need to do in order to get things done in an efficient manner. One of the most important ways to manage time is to plan your tasks before you do them.
Knowing the procedures that you do generally can help you plan better with your time. You have to master things like response time and worst-case execution time. Another good way to plan time is to make sure you set realistic expectations for what you are doing.
How you manage your time has an effect on your contact centers customer experience. For more on good time management listen to David Finkel
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #9: Be Attentive
Attention is one of the most important skills that you should have in customer service. Being attentive means that you should be paying attention to every task that you are doing, especially when addressing a customer’s problem.
Aside from that, being attentive in your career also means that you should also take care of your job, as this is very important. You need to set a reputation for yourself as well as your company
If you are a manager or a supervisor, it is very important for you to ensure that you always have a good relationship with your subordinates. Be attentive to the challenges they face, be attentive to their continuous learning and career development. That way you create an environment that allows them to excel.
For more on being attentive, listen to the Fast leader Show podcast with Aaron McHugh.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #10: Be Calm
Being calm is one of the customer service must-have skills. There are many reasons why you should be calm as a customer service professional, but they are all based on how you handle the situations that will arise along the way. When you become overwhelmed by the responsibilities that have been placed upon you, it is time to start being more positive.
Whether it’s a difficult day in the contact center because a problem has raised in any area in your customer service or you are dealing with a complicated client, you should remain calm at all times. Remaining calm is a result of developed emotional intelligence.
For more on unique perspectives on remaining calm in difficult situations listen to this podcast episode with Gleb Tsipursky.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #11: Acting Skills
If you are a good actor, then you can be more effective at helping others to get what they want and need, which means that you will be much happier in the long run.
Even if you don’t have the natural ability to act, you can work on becoming more capable of it. This does not include becoming a manipulative individual. Always have good intentions when you apply your acting skills.
Acting isn’t really required in all situations that you will encounter in customer service, but it is certainly helpful. Some situations will require you to mask your true feelings which can be difficult if your body language is not matching what you are saying. This is where acting skills apply.
In order to deliver top tier customer service, you need acting skills. This podcast with Andrew Tarvin provides a unique perspective.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #12: Knowledge About your Products and Services
Do you have knowledge of your products and services? Are you able to effectively answer questions about your products and services? Being a customer service representative means that it is also your duty to create a reputation for your company.
You are not able to do this if you don’t fully understand what products or services you are selling and how they can be of value to the customer. If you cannot keep your name and your product in the customer’s mind then your brand can easily fade into the noise.
Your product or service should be of high quality and should not disappoint the customer. You can only achieve high quality if you understand your customer’s needs and how your products can effectively address these needs.
For more on being more knowledgeable, listen to this podcast Neil Sahota.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #13: Communication Skills
Communication is one of the most important customer service must-have skills. The importance of communication skills in a work environment goes beyond simply being able to type. So make sure that you are well versed in communicating in general.
Customer service is mostly centered around communicating. You need to communicate with customers and to be more effective in that area you need to exercise good communication with your team members and team manager or supervisor.
But even if you do not have the best communication skills, you can still learn some basics about what these are and what they mean. It’s a good idea to spend some time every so often taking basic communication courses.
For more on being more on unique communication perspectives, listen to this podcast with Jono Bacon.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #14: Be Patient
Dealing with customers requires a lot of patience. You will come across customers that are difficult to deal with and have terrible attitudes. You need to be patient enough to deal with customers’ problems despite how complex the situation is or how difficult they may be.
Patience helps you see things from the right perspective. It helps you overcome your fears and get over any mental hurdles that you encounter both in your career and in your personal life.
This helps you to be more positive and at the same time be very flexible and adaptable. This is something that can help you excel in all areas of your job. It helps one to remain flexible even in tough circumstances because it helps you to think out of the box.
For more on patience and its impact, listen to this podcast with Nick Friedman.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #15: Positive Outlook
The reason why you should have a positive outlook on customer service is that the area deals with a lot of customer problems. The bulk of the phone calls, emails, etc are customer complaints. It can be training and being exposed to so much negativity for several hours can cause you to feel negative.
The first thing that you need to do is acknowledge it and then you can change how you look at the situation. What you should be focusing on instead is looking for the positives and focusing on the advantages of your job and its value to customers that need your help.
Your career has the potential to be an extremely fulfilling career but if you are not living a happy life with it and you don’t have a positive attitude towards it, you could end up hating it. This can affect your performance as a customer service professional.
For more on having a positive outlook listen to this podcast episode with Chester Elton.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #16: Self-Control
If we think about controlling our impulses, our behavior, and our emotions, then it becomes clear that self-control has some significant implications for our lives. You would think that in order to exercise control, we should always be in control.
If someone is in a situation where they can’t be in control, they might act in a way they wouldn’t otherwise do. But this isn’t necessarily true. When you are in control of yourself, you are able to see things clearly and act in a more sensible and practical manner.
In the same way, if you are in control of what you are doing, you will choose the best thing for your customers and thus providing the best experiences.
For more on self-control and moving forward, listen to the podcast episode with Art Hall.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #17: Be Responsible
Being responsible is very important in customer service. You need to be responsible for your team’s success as a supervisor or manager. As a customer service representative, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are contributing the best that you can for the success of your team.
When everyone on the team is responsible and self-disciplined enough to contribute what is required of them your team can create a customer service experience that is pleasant and reliable.
For more on unique perspectives on responsibility listen to this podcast with Darren Gold.
Customer Service Must-Have Skill #18: Be an Active Listener
Active listening can be defined as listening to what someone else is saying in a business setting that involves both parties communicating. It’s very important for customers to get the best out of their interaction with customer service representatives.
As such, customer service representatives should listen and then understand what the customer is saying. This can be a major difference in whether or not your customer relationship management efforts succeed, which is why it is important to pay attention to what your customers need from you.
For more on how to be a good listener listen to this podcast with Dan Hill.
Skill #19: Work on Self-Improvement
By taking part in personal development courses and personal growth coaching you will be able to put yourself in the right position to succeed as a customer service agent. You will learn how to manage your time better and you will find yourself being able to create your own working schedule based on your needs.
This is essential because even the most successful professionals need breaks. If you are not able to allocate your time to the tasks that need to be done then you won’t reach your goals.
Listen to this inspiring podcast on self-improvement with Dr. Sydney Savion.
Skill #20: Ability to Admit When you Don’t Know (Humility)
Customers will call with inquiries about your products and services, while you should know and understand as much as you can about your products or services, it is possible to miss some information. When you do, it’s important to be humble and admit you need to find the answer.
You should be honest about that with your customer but also update yourself on the information. There will also be times that your job requires something from you that you do not know how to handle. Be honest with your supervisor or manager that you do not know and be willing to learn.
For more on learning humility listen to this podcast with Risto Siilasmaa.
Skill #21: Have Thick Skin
Like I have said before dealing with people can be very complicated. There are times when you will have to interact with customers that are rude and impossible. Some of them may yell or call you names out of disappointment. This means you need to have an attitude of not taking things personally.
You have to understand that most of the time people are just projecting how they feel about themselves. If you are easily affected by situations like these it is important to work on developing a thick skin and understanding that these people do not know you and they can not define who you are.
In some cases, contact centers can have very hectic days. You need to also have thick skin to handle that kind of pressure.
For more on resilience listen to my podcast episode with Kevin Vallely.
Skill #22: Have Effective Conflict Resolution
The importance of conflict resolution in customer service cannot be underestimated. It’s a necessary component to maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers and with colleagues, to keep your company functioning smoothly, and to increase your profits.
While there are a variety of different conflicts that may occur in business, they’re all important to remember. If you’re able to handle conflicts and find a way to resolve them without them getting out of hand, this is a huge advantage for customers, colleagues, and you.
For more on conflict resolution listen to this podcast episode with Scott Warrick.
Skill #23: Have Good Decision-Making Skills
When it comes to decision making in business it is an important aspect of customer service must-have skills. You need to think of the long-term goals your team wants to achieve, the competition you are going to face and the market you will be serving.
It is important to know and understand your products and services and the competition you are going to face so that you will be able to make the right decision. You have to know exactly how you will best serve your customers.
It is always important to be organized so that you can make the right decision when you are faced with a challenge while dealing with a customer.
To be a good leader you need to have good decision-making skills. This podcast episode with Peter Economy explains more on other things you can do to be a great leader
Skill #24: Be Creative
One of the best ways that you can use creativity is by being creative in your career. Creativity can make you successful, but it does not have to be that way. It is possible for anyone to be creative in their career and it is possible to be successful with it.
There are many different ways to be creative in your career. This means that you have more options when you are trying to come up with new ideas, which is why you need to be creative in your career.
As a customer service leader you have to create an environment that allows your agents to be creative. For more on unleashing potential in your customer service representatives listen to the Fast Leader Show podcast with Jeff DeGraff
Skill #25: Be Responsive
To be successful in dealing with the needs of your customers, you will also need to learn how to be responsive in customer service.
One way to add this to your skills by making sure that you are effectively communicating with your customers in order to answer any questions they may have or to tell them about products and services that they might want to buy.
When you are interacting with your customers, you need to be sure that you are not going over their heads and you are not rushing to give your customers advice and recommendations that may not be applicable to them.
Make sure that your customers know that you value their opinion and that you are willing to listen to what they say.
Being responsive is a big part of empathy, for more on empathy listen to this discussion with Shep Hyken
- What other customer service must-have skills do you think a customer service professional should have?
- Of all the skills mentioned above, which skill do you think is most important for a customer service professional to have?
- Which skill do you think customer service professionals can excel without?
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.