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The Top 20 Customer Care Skills

Customer service skills in restaurant

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?

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. Warmth – showing genuine warmth towards a customer and treating the customer as you would want a member of your family to be treated. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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. 
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Organised – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  So always plan ahead and don’t leave everything to the last minute.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Calmness – even though chaos is happening all around you, keep calm and do what you can to resolve problems.
  20. 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.

Start the journey to improve your customer service skills

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.

7 reasons why customer service is important to your business

Why customer service is important

Every business textbook starts with the statement that customers are essential for the survival of a business.  Without customers, there are no sales and the business fails.  But there is a balance to be struck between profit and service.  Delivering a world class service is costly in terms of time and that puts pressure on the bottom line.  Provide a very low level of service and customer complaints rise as well as customers walking down the street to the competition.  Business owners therefore need to realise why customer service is important and why it should receive a higher priority in the business.

What is customer service?

Let’s start with a definition of customer service.  One of my favourite definitions is from the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.

Customer Service is how a business looks after its customers. This includes everything from the moment a customer makes contact with your business; during the provision of a service and after sales care.

Consumer Council NI

“Looking after” a customer is at the heart of this definition but also is the fact that customers have different touchpoints with a business during their customer journey.  A business interested in delivering excellent customer service will ensure that the user experience is spot on at every touchpoint – from answering a social media enquiry, serving a cup of coffee or even a follow-up email to ensure that everything was to the customer’s satisfaction.  In other words, rolling out the red carpet for every customer.

So having determined what customer service is, why is it important to a business?  Here are the top seven reasons.

#1 Excellent customer service leads to more repeat business and increased customer loyalty

Imagine it’s time for a takeaway coffee and there are two coffee shops in your area.  Both sell excellent coffee and their prices are the same.  But you have a favourite coffee shop – the one with shorter queues and friendlier staff.  A few welcoming words can make all the difference and even better, when staff get to know and use your name.  A repeat customer can spend hundreds or thousands of pounds more in your business and all for the sake of “looking after” a customer in a way that shows they really care.

So the number one reason why customer service is important to a business is because it is linked to sales.  84% of organizations working to improve customer service report an increase in sales and that’s a figure that you can’t afford to ignore.

#2 Customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition

On average, it costs approximately five times more to attract a new customer than it costs to retain an existing customer.  It therefore makes economic sense to get it right for every customer every time in terms of stock availability, price and customer service.  Keep your existing customers coming back to you and hopefully they will spend more on your products at future visits. 

You are also more likely to sell to your existing customers as they already know your business, your products and your staff.  After all, people buy from other people and if the relationship is already there, you are off to a flying start.  Research indicates that there is a much higher probability of selling to an existing customer (60-70%) than a new customer (5-20%).  Existing customers are also likely to spend more in your business as they have already had a positive experience with you in the past.

#3 Excellent customer service improves the customer’s overall user experience with an organisation

 

You may be selling an absolutely fantastic product or service but if the customer service doesn’t match the product quality, the customer is disappointed with your organisation.  The next time they wish to purchase the same product (and all other factors being equal), it is very likely that they will shop with another business.  In other words, excellent customer service is the icing on the cake for a quality product and is a major contributor to customer satisfaction. 

The converse is true too.  Should the customer service be poor, this can push many customers to look for alternative providers.  A staggering 89% of customers will begin doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.

#4 Excellent customer service can lead to a reduction in formal customer complaints

No business wants to receive complaints but whenever you are dealing with customers, it is highly likely that complaints will pop up from time to time.  Formal customer complaints can take a long time to investigate and after all “time is money”. 

With excellent customer service, customers are more likely to make more informal complaints which can be resolved more quickly.

Customer complaint

#5 Excellent customer service can improve the organisation’s reputation and strengthens your brand

By investing in high levels of customer service at every point in the customer journey, the organisation’s reputation is enhanced, and your brand is strengthened.  In other words, you become a business that people want to do business with.  This helps to attract future investors and employees as well as new customers.

#6 Staff have more job satisfaction and pride in the company

Management depend on their staff to deliver excellent service to customers.  If the staff team feel empowered to devise new ways to please customers and the business owners take on board at least some of their suggestions, staff will have more “buy in” to the company’s success. 

By valuing customers and working hard to look after them, a more customer-centred organisation is born.  Overall helpfulness increases for both the “paying” external customer but also for work colleagues ie the internal customer. 

Staff satisfaction levels should rise as should their pride in the business as well as a reduction in employee turnover.  Of course, happier staff will lead to happier customers who will keep returning to the business and spending more.  It is therefore important to continually invest in customer service training to enhance staff’s customer care skills.

#7 Excellent customer service leads to more word-of-mouth recommendations and more positive online reviews.

When you delight your customers, they become part of your marketing machine and spread the word about their customer experience.  This is the best type of advertising to do and it’s free!  Some people will recommend your business when talking to friends and family but the more digitally savvy ones will write a review on Google, Facebook, Trip Advisor or Trustpilot.  Online reviews can potentially be seen by hundreds of people so that is excellent PR for your business.

Writing an online review about customer service

Customer service cannot be ignored in any business.  It is important to consistently get service right to make sure that customers keep returning to your business, whether physically, on the phone or online.  If not, your customers will act with their feet and simply go to another business where they feel appreciated.


Did you know that Customer Sense deliver online customer service training courses? 

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