Everyone in an organisation needs to know what it takes to keep customers happy. According to research published in Forbes, 59% of companies with a CEO who is focused on customer XP report higher revenue growth, compared to companies without a customer-focused CEO. The customer-focused culture is led from the top and should be observed and adhered to company-wide. In a fast-changing world during a global pandemic, priorities are changing. Here are the 12 main customer service skills every employee in your organisation should know about, today.
- 1. Good communication skills
One of the most important customer service skills is the ability to clearly communicate. Good communication is not just about being able to talk in a clear accent and articulate yourself well. It requires the ability to listen and understand before clearly communicating a response. Great communicators with the right knowledge and training can develop excellent customer service skills.
- 2. Patience and empathy
Amongst all the good skills to have for customer service, patience and empathy are vital. The customer senses when the person they are speaking to doesn’t care or empathise, which can turn a small issue into a bigger one. By demonstrating empathy and a genuine desire to resolve the issue, your staff become more effective at their jobs and your customers feel an emotional connection, causing sales to go up.
- 3. Attentiveness
We’ve all had one of those calls where the person says our name wrong or simply doesn't have the records up on the screen in front of them. Staff should be attentive, organised and prepared for client contact. If they don’t know how to say a name they can ask the customer directly and help build some rapport. Attentiveness also relates to the conversation itself. Is the rep taking notes to prevent the customer from having to repeat themselves? Are they picking up on non-verbal cues and subtext in the conversation?
- 4. Time management
What is the role of a service employee within your organisation? Are they a worker bee that must complete hundreds of tasks a day or are they a skilled ambassador that should complete quality work? Within any organisation, time management is always an area of concern. The conventional wisdom suggests that more tasks completed means increased revenue, and fewer tasks means less revenue. If your rep completes 50 calls a day resulting in an 85% satisfaction rate, is that better or worse than them completing 35 calls a day resulting in a 98% satisfaction rate?
Customers who experience dissatisfaction more than once are 80% more likely to start considering switching to a competitor. Your reps need to manage their own time effectively with a strong focus on quality over quantity.
- 5. Good working knowledge
Your customer facing staff are ambassadors for your brand which is why customer service skills are so important. As ambassadors, whatever service or product you provide, your reps have to know it inside out. Having special customer service images, manuals and dummy models to hand can help when trying to see what a customer might be describing. Customers also appreciate when the person they are speaking to has personal experience with the products and service and demonstrates empathy and insight.
- 6. Negotiation skills
Some conversations are more heated than others and there might come a point when a customer service rep needs to have the autonomy and authority to offer compensation. The client might demand five months of refunds when only one month is owed. Here the customer service rep should be able to negotiate a suitable refund that pacifies the client but doesn’t leave the company at a severe loss. Negotiation can also mean diplomacy and caution. By being mindful and negotiating the terrain carefully, reps can avoid unnecessary distress or offence.
- 7. A calming presence
Customers can be emotional, and being on hold for 20 minutes hoping their issue can be resolved quickly could result in some pent up frustrations. One of the most excellent customer service skills your team could possess is a naturally calming presence. Research has shown that people are hard-wired to reflect the emotional state of the people in front of them. If your rep has a calm, peaceful demeanour then even the most agitated customers will be pacified by them.
- 8. Good humour
Just as reps with a calming presence can reflect a sense of calm upon a frustrated customer, a rep who encounters a good-humoured customer should be able to play along. Ideally, all customers will come away from an engagement with your reps happier than before, which is why good humour is so important.
- 9. Persuasion
Some lists detailing essential customer care skills suggest that the ability to act is important, as though customer service reps must assume a character and deliver information and advice like they haven’t said it a hundred times before. While this is partly true, we think it’s more important that the reps are simply persuasive. They should be able to persuade a customer that they aren’t exhausted after an eight-hour shift, or that they have the skills and knowledge to resolve their issue. Persuasion is only as good as the actions that follow, so customer services have to have the skills to back up their claims.
- 10. Tenacity
An outbound customer services team might make hundreds of calls a day with many being unanswered. The ability to remain tenacious and upbeat right until the last call of the day is imperative. Together tenacity and patience can help when dealing with difficult or frustrating customers. When walking a client through a particular technical issue over the phone, a customer support rep who can remain friendly, upbeat and engaged for the duration can help a customer feel more comfortable as the call goes on.
- 11. Eagerness to improve
Hopefully, your teams will share stories about difficult encounters and how they resolved or overcame them. This should create an environment of shared experience and ongoing learning and improvement. Some companies might formalise the training and monitor interactions with customers to see where improvements can be made. This is pointless if the customer services rep you’ve hired doesn’t already possess an eagerness to improve. When considering which customer care skills your potential customer services teammate might have, try to see if one of them is a self-motivated desire to learn and improve.
- 12. Positive attitude
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, is the ability to remain positive. This skill is vital within the customer services team to keep staff motivated and on track, but also essential when speaking to customers. Positivity can be combined with all of the skills described above to make each of them even stronger. Patience and positivity prevent a client from feeling like a nuisance. Negotiation and positivity can ensure the client is happy with whatever your company decides to offer them. Positive staff members can help create an internal culture where staff are happier and more effective in their work.