08 February 2023

The supreme list of customer service skills.

The supreme list of customer service skills

What separates a good customer service representative from a great one? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but having the right set of skills for the job can make you truly stand out. Being able to successfully and efficiently provide customer satisfaction is the foundation of a strong brand, and having agents with highly-attuned abilities such as the ones we’ll discuss in this article is the perfect place to start making that a reality. 

With this supreme list of skills, your customer support team will be ready and raring to provide the best-in-class experiences for your user base, all whilst developing themselves along the way. Let’s dive into the world of customer service.

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What is customer service?

Ever had an issue with a product or a service that you needed to resolve quickly? Needed a helping hand with paying a bill or was confused about the status of an order? That’s usually where customer service begins - the moment when you need support from a trusted brand in order to answer questions you might have about a purchase you made with them. 

The job of a customer service representative is to be on the other side of the phone or chat, ready to help you with whatever it is you need. For that reason, they need to be armed with excellent knowledge, great listening and communication skills, and a large dose of empathy and adaptability, to name a few key points.

What makes customer service good?

Good customer service is tailored to individual needs. It should be friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Great support agents should also have the ability to respond to inquiries quickly, accurately, and effectively. Additionally, teams should go above and beyond expectations by offering additional solutions and providing follow-up support. Good customer service also requires reps to be transparent and honest, as well as being able to show empathy and understanding in all interactions. Finally, anyone working in this kind of role should have a customer-centric mindset that is focused on providing solutions and creating positive experiences.

Why is good customer service so important?

In a nutshell, because it’s the key to ensuring satisfaction and loyalty. Your audience expects the agents they’re contacting to be knowledgeable, polite, responsive, accurate, and empathetic when addressing their needs. Investing in a customer service representative’s skills can help increase retention, build trust and loyalty, and boost confidence in the company's products or services. Additionally, good service can help drive engagement, referrals, and help establish credibility in the marketplace, all whilst amplifying your CX. This makes it a vital part of a business strategy.

What do customers expect from customer service representatives?

Customer expectations are getting higher every season, and they want the people they’re calling to be professional, clever, responsive, and empathetic - all in one. But what else are they expecting from their experience with your brand?

  • Professionalism – They expect reps to be professional and respectful when handling inquiries and requests.
  • Knowledge – Agents should have in-depth knowledge about services, products, and processes, so they can provide solutions efficiently.
  • Politeness & Courtesy – There’s nothing worse than speaking with a rude or unhelpful support agent!
  • Responsiveness – Responding promptly and effectively can keep your customers coming back for more each time.
  • Empathy – People like people who care, and truly feel for their struggles.
  • Transparency – Be honest if you don’t have the answer, or if the answer is one the other side may not want to hear - it’s better than sugarcoating the truth.

What are the key skills for a successful customer service representative?

Contact with customers is part of almost every industry in the world, which means that the list of necessary and crucial skills to succeed in this type of role could be much more exhaustive. However, there are many abilities that will help an agent provide the best possible service in most interactions with consumers. We’ve listed a few of the most crucial ones below.

Key skills for customer service representatives

Let’s play persuasion.

Customers want to feel reassured and understood when interacting with a support agent. Using their skills of persuasion, agents can help to build trustful relationships, make sure that requests and inquiries are resolved in a timely manner, and work more efficiently when communicating a brand’s products or services. It’s also a particularly useful skill to have in stressful situations, when it might be necessary to calm a customer down or keep them in the loop about difficult news.

Another great benefit of the ability to persuade is the corresponding ability to cross- and upsell to customers. This is an evolving area of CX for brands, and an excellent opportunity to create even more profit and loyalty from your consumer base. With great persuasion, you’ll be better equipped to handle anything a customer might throw your way.

Have a heart.

Empathy is a key customer service representative skill. Being able to understand a caller’s needs and respond in an understanding manner can help reps build trust and loyalty. If a consumer feels that they’ll hear a thoughtful, kind, and sympathetic voice on the other end, they’re more likely to get in touch with your brand if they need support instead of automatically switching to a competitor - which happens more often than you might think.

Empathy also helps support teams better assess the issues that come to them, as well as provide solutions quickly and efficiently. With empathy, CX reps can ensure customers leave their service experience feeling satisfied and valued.

Adapt to thrive.

Switching from one channel to another, learning new technology, resolving requests that range from simple data input all the way to complex technical questions and long-term solution management - all of these scenarios are possible even in just one day of working as a support agent. Which means that adaptability is an important skill for them to possess. 

Being able to adapt various processes and strategies to inquiries and needs is essential for quick resolution and after that, loyalty and satisfaction. With this customer service representative skill, you can quickly assess situations, come up with solutions that best fit your needs, and learn from what you know to improve in the future.

Patience is a virtue.

Handling tens or even hundreds of calls or chats a day can take its toll on even the best of us. Each time a different issue, a potentially frustrated caller, or a new and convoluted inquiry that might stop you in your tracks before you answer it. For all those reasons and more, it’s crucial for agents to remain calm and stay patient.

Making sure customers feel heard, understood, and reassured is a consequence of a consistently patient approach, and something that will always be greatly appreciated and benefit your brand. This makes patience a hugely important customer service representative skill, in that it shows care and consideration from the perspective of your brand.

Keep an ear out.

Listening is an essential part of providing great CX. Being able to actively listen to needs and inquiries is a customer service representative skill which can help them truly understand what is needed on the other side, tap into the empathetic side of the interaction, and provide solutions quickly and efficiently. 

This is what makes active listening such a vital ability in today’s day and age. Really putting one’s self in the shoes of the other party and combining this with empathy and problem-solving skills can produce a better understanding of any concerns or issues that need resolve and help preempt similar ones in the future.

How to improve your listening skills

How can you improve your listening skills?

  • Stay focused – Avoiding distractions can help customer service reps stay focused on customer conversations and provide customer solutions more efficiently.
  • Ask questions – Asking customer questions can help customer service representatives better understand customer needs and provide customer solutions more effectively.
  • Don’t interrupt – Allowing for pauses during customer conversations can help customer service representatives assess customer needs and provide customer solutions more effectively.
  • Don’t assume – Try not to jump the shark and give yourself time to truly listen to the other person, rather than just waiting for your turn to speak.
  • Repeat key facts – Paraphrasing customer requests can help customer representatives ensure they understand customer requirements and provide customer-focused solutions.
  • Write down important points – Taking notes during customer conversations can help customer service reps remember customer details and provide effective customer responses.

Keeping time.

With so many different kinds of requests and the increasing use of omnichannel strategies, managing time efficiently is becoming more and more important. Besides, customers need answers as soon as possible, and not having to wait too long for a resolution is one of the key performance metrics for any brand’s customer support teams.

Additionally, considering all of the training, product knowledge, process sharing, strategizing, and data analysis that typically goes along with any customer support role, it’s vital to have good time management to stay on top of all tasks and ensure your workload doesn’t get too difficult to handle.

The importance of resilience.

Resilience is extremely important for customer service reps, as working in this kind of career can sometimes be stressful. Agents must have the ability to stay positive and keep their composure in difficult interactions, while being able to take feedback constructively and remain patient during inquiries. 

The ability to rebound quickly is also a consequence of resilience and hugely important for an agent, as this allows them to continue providing excellent support. Remaining confident and professional despite customer dissatisfaction or complaints, requires a high level of resilience, and is what can separate good teams from excellent ones.

What are some key hard and soft customer service representative skills?

Whilst we’ve already named several of the most important ones, there’s a crucial distinction to be made between hard and soft skills in this industry. We’ve broken down a few of them below, but what’s key to remember is that maintaining a balance between the two areas can help you succeed in the most diverse areas of customer support.

Key hard vs soft customer service skills

The soft skills.

Having a range of customer-focused soft skills allows anyone working in customer support to be successful. These customer service representative skills include excellent communication abilities, active listening, problem solving and conflict resolution, customer empathy and negotiation. Additionally, reps should also have patience and the ability to manage difficult situations in a professional manner.

The hard skills.

When it comes to hard skills, agents should have excellent knowledge of software such as CRM databases and ticketing systems. Additionally, they should also have a solid understanding of the company's product or service offerings, so that they can assist customers more effectively. Furthermore, they should also possess good technical writing and CX writing skills, as well as data literacy skills. It might even be beneficial for them to have experience working with AI-based solutions such as chatbots or translators.

In the world of tech.

Modern customer service teams should be tech-savvy and have the ability to use CX software, customer relationship management (CRM) software, analytics tools, surveys, social media channels, and chatbots. Additionally, reps might have basic knowledge of computer programming in order to make small changes or tweaks to service software or databases.

Working in customer support using voice channels may also necessitate confidence in using more complex phone and IVR systems, whilst still being able to gather feedback through surveys and queue their inbound calls. Analytics tools can provide applied insights that better a brand’s understanding of their users’ needs and preferences. Finally, CX teams could also be tasked with monitoring feedback platforms such as reviews and ratings websites in order to monitor satisfaction levels and ID pain points. 

As the world of customer support evolves, using AI-powered tools such as chatbots, virtual assistants, conversational AI, translation programs, or performance management systems could all very quickly become part and parcel of a customer service representative skill portfolio.

In conclusion.

Keeping your skills sharp and learning what is evolving in the world of customer experience is a great way to stay on top of the most in-demand abilities that could help you thrive on this career trajectory. By developing these skills, you can stay at the forefront of the competition and carve out an incredible career for yourself in this arena. Perhaps the next step lies right here at Transcom?