For many businesses, people working in customer service roles are often the face of the company. These are the people who engage with customers, encourage customers to come back again and work hard to give the organisation a solid reputation. Customer service is vital for any organisation but good customer service doesn’t just happen. The customer service professionals have to work hard and develop their customer care skills to make sure that every customer has a winning experience during every visit.
So what are the top 20 customer service skills?
- Patience – when a customer is taking time to make a decision, take a deep (but invisible) breath, smile and be patient. Some customers can make decisions instantly whereas others have to weigh up the pro’s and con’s of the decision first.
- Attention to detail – the little things do matter to customers and they remember them. It could be something as simple as remembering the preferred coffee of a regular customer or double-checking the spelling of an email address.
- Good communication skills – the ability to talk to customers is crucial in delivering excellent customer service. But sometimes your job may include responding to emails or social media enquiries so it is really important to adopt a friendly tone of voice in the written word too.
- Using positive language – ie the glass is half full rather than half empty. Focus on the positive aspects rather than highlighting any negatives to a customer. For example, if a customer has been standing in a queue, thank him for waiting when it is his turn rather than apologising for the delay.
- Listening skills – it’s not just about being a good talker, you need to know when to keep quiet and listen to what the customer is saying. Also “listen with your eyes” to watch a customer’s body language which may indicate the customer’s true feelings.
- Empathy – this is about putting yourself in the shoes of a customer ie how would you feel if the long awaited dinner was cancelled at the last minute due to an overbooking by the restaurant manager?
- Warmth – showing genuine warmth towards a customer and treating the customer as you would want a member of your family to be treated.
- Friendly and approachable – a smile goes a long way to show that you really want to engage with the customer and want their business. If you have a “face like a Lurgan spade”, you will not entice a customer to cross the threshold into your business.
- Integrity, honesty and respect in all customer interactions – do not lie because it is likely that the customer will find out in the future and then you (and your business) will lose credibility in the customer’s eyes.
- Be realistic – there are things that you will be able to do for a customer and things that are totally impossible due to time, manpower or space. Do not overpromise and build up a customer’s expectations but instead provide a realistic picture of what you can and can not do.
- Take ownership – when a problem arises, don’t shrug your shoulders and say it is nothing to do with you. Do your best to resolve a customer complaint quickly but if it is outside your control, let your line manager know and ask him/her to handle it.
- Have sound technical knowledge – every job requires technical skills for you to be able to perform it. Make sure that you are constantly developing your technical skills as well as your customer service skills.
- Work as a team – to provide an excellent customer experience at every point of the customer journey, it is really important that you work closely with your colleagues (or internal customers) in your organisation.
- Adaptability – when the unexpected happens, you need to be able to turn your hand to other tasks which may not strictly fall within your job description. Looking after the customer is number one and if you need to sweep the floor after the Christmas tree decorations have been put up before guests arrive, then being adaptable and being prepared to help out is crucial.
- Enthusiasm – be upbeat about your job and your enthusiastic attitude will rub off on your work colleagues plus bring a smile to the customer’s face.
- Organised – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So always plan ahead and don’t leave everything to the last minute.
- Time management – are you spending too much time with one customer and your work colleagues are having to pick up the slack? Be efficient with your time and be fair to your work colleagues.
- Courtesy, charm and charisma – basic manners are a baseline in customer service so “please” and “thank you” should be a key part of your vocabulary. Show your personality too and connect with customers too.
- Calmness – even though chaos is happening all around you, keep calm and do what you can to resolve problems.
- Smart appearance – make sure that your clothing is clean, ironed and not ripped. Follow the company’s clothing protocol eg no sports tops, no jeans or no trainers. Your own personal hygiene levels should be high too and your grooming should be perfect. After all, you are representing yourself and your organisation to the general public.
By the way, this list of customer care skills are not in any particular order but will depend on the job role and industry sector.
How good are your customer service skills?
Well, no one is perfect and there are always areas that can be improved upon. Ask your work colleagues for feedback about your performance. Also take a hard honest look at this list and select three customer care skills that you are weak in. Then take positive steps to improve these specific skills. It may take time to improve these skills which may be the result of a lifetime of bad habits but it is better to make a start rather than do nothing.
When did you last attend a customer service skills training course?
Be honest – it probably was years ago and the likelihood is that your customer care skills aren’t as good as they used to be. We would recommend that refresher training takes place every three years.
With the current COVID-19 regulations in place, all our customer service training is taking place online so if you would like to find out more about our next course, please contact us.