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Top 15 Customer Service Skills to Stand Out In 2021 & Beyond

Top 15 Customer Service Skills to Stand Out In 2021 & Beyond

logo Shubham Rajpara
June 8, 2021 | 8 Min Read

Managing a business is not a that simple - specially in the peculiar situation of COVID-19, where businesses are already suffering from massive trauma. In such a situation, having to stand out amongst all competitors out there strongly calls for having great customer service skills. 

Good customer service skills are the key to higher customer engagement, longer customer retention, increased customer lifetime value, and hyper-growth in sales. 

Let us first know the definition of customer service skills first:

What are Customer Service Skills?

Customer service skills are learned behavior and demeanor that help you to interact with visitors and customers in the best possible manner. Customer service skills are soft skills that include traits like empathy, active listening, patience, and ability to read both verbal and nonverbal cues of the customers.

If you know your business has the capacity to deliver great products and services and yet fail to turn visitors into customers then the primary reason for this is -- you probably are not focusing on enhancing your customer service skills. Lacking even basic customer service skills can leave  a good and profitable business in losses.

How Do You Define Good Customer Service Skills?

Zendesk surveyed  3,000 people across the world to find what according to them are good customer service skills. Interestingly, it was found that the 3 most important qualities of customer service revolve around speed, convenience, and empathy.

The good customer service skills in ascending order were:

Quick Resolution to Problems. Customers wanted their problems to be resolved quickly. 

Round-the-clock Customer Service. Getting answers at any hour of the day was super convenient for them. 

Amicability. Friendliness of the agent came in as the third most important quality of a great customer service. 

Speaking of which, here we are going to discuss the top 15 customer service skills every customer support or sales rep should know and adopt. Here you go:

15 Customer Services Skills to Stand Out in 2021

Here are the 15 skills for customer service every customer support and sales executive should know: 

1. Empathy, the wisest of virtue

The value that I really learned to appreciate deeply and which I talk about a great deal is empathy. I don’t think it is simply a “nice to have” but I believe it is at the centre of the agenda for innovation here at Microsoft” 

-Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

Empathy is an essential customer service skill if your end goal is a happy and satisfied customer. 

It can be precisely described as a skill to sense and interpret the emotions of others by stepping into their shoes. 

Empathy enables business people to understand the issues their customers face and helps them efficiently solve them.

When your sales team is empathetic, it helps your customers feel heard and understood. And these are the positive responses you would want to instill in your customers. 

2. Brush up on your communication skills 

Another foundational skill for customer service is communication. 

Communication not only includes the way you provide a solution to an issue, but it also includes listening. 

Actively listening and understanding the customers' problems is the only way to give them a tailored and satisfactory solution in a respectful manner. More on active listening in the next paragraphs.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind to enhance your communication across channels: 

  • Listen closely and avoid interrupting the customer.
  • Use consistent brand vocabulary.
  • Personalize the communication.
  • Avoid using negative phrases.
  • Use positive language with a lot of empathy.
  • Give thorough answers to technical questions.
  • Make communication clear and concise. 
  • Do not talk over customers. 

3. Self-Control is a power tool

Being a part of the customer service team is like experiencing a new adventure with each changing customer. And, you're always up for a surprise. You can get a polite customer when you start your day, but an angry or impatient one may follow next. A customer service executive has to maintain calm and composure in every situation, even when it seems humanly impossible to do so.  

If you have been having a hard time controlling your impulses while speaking with a difficult customer, here are some self-control pointers that can help:

  1. Look at the big picture. Don't lose sight of the outcome your angry outburst would follow. 
  2. Get enough sleep. 
  3. Start the habit of working out. Brisk walking for 15 minutes a day would do as well.
  4. Know yourself. Do not derive your self-worth from your job.
  5. Sip some drinks. Lemonade and Hibiscus Tea would work wonders. 

4. Active Listening For Proactive Customer Service

You might be wondering about the inclusion of such a basic skill amongst the customer service skills. But, business personnel must master customer retention as a KPI they are tracking. 

A fundamental thing that needs to be understood is that a satisfactory solution cannot be provided without knowing the exact problem. 

Hence, the customer service team needs training to actively and effectively listen to the customers, understand their issues, and respond proactively. 

It is only wise to listen to your customers actively and then offer quick and precise solutions without any delay or escalations.

Moreover, when you listen properly, you offer a hyper-personalized customer experience. According to SalesForce's 4th Edition of The State of The Connected Customers, 63% of consumers want businesses to understand their unique needs and expectations, while 76% of B2B buyers expect the same.

5. Know the Nitty-gritty About The Product 

As per Help Scout’s Elyse Roach, “Having that concrete product foundation not only ensures you have got the best tricks up your sleeve to help customers find the way even in the most complex situations, it also helps you build an understanding of their experience so that you can become their strongest advocate.”

The first and foremost requirement for a person working in the customer service field is product expertise. Suppose the customer service person is unaware of the product, technical specifications, and intricate details,he/she might not be able to solve the customer issues or even answer their questions. 

The key to a quick and satisfactory solution to customer queries is complete product knowledge and expertise. Hubspot research states that 93% of customers will indeed purchase again if the customer service is satisfactory. The satisfaction includes product knowledge and acknowledgment of minor details, among other things. 

6. Patience - The Best Prevention To Disasters 

Another great skill for customer service is patience.

The majority of the customers that reach out to customer service are unhappy or have some issues. Thus, the customer service teams encounter mostly angry and upset customers who require a high level of patience. 

Another scenario that is possible is a struggling customer who fails to explain their problem or is just confused about something. In this case, the customer service person must patiently guide them and understand their concern.

You should not confuse this point with that of self-control.

Patience is different from self-control. Here the customer is not necessarily furious or agitated. They would be having a hard time following what you say. Or might just be confused. 

7. Bend But Don’t Break 

Anyone working in the customer service team should keep some leeway when it comes to serving customers.

Having said that, it needs to be ensured that you are not going entirely against the rules -- harming the company's finances or reputation in the slightest. 

There are times and situations when the solution to a customer's problems is in plain sight -- but it is also something that the automated customer support flow or company policy does not allow. 

You have to be flexible sometimes and create some witty leeway to create extraordinarily happy customers

8. Unflappability

Be a Navy Seal emotionally. 

Or get as close to it as possible. 

A customer service executive cannot afford to lose their cool in front of an angry customer to avoid tail spinning into an embarrassing and detrimental-for-all space. 

The skill of unflappability can help the customer service personnel in the long run, and it is a mandatory one. One cannot express even the slightest discomfort or anger while solving customer issues, not at any cost. 

Cultivating unflappability means having the ability to calm down the customers without getting agitated and providing a satisfactory solution to them. 

9. Be Good At Time Management

You need to have adequate time to spend with a customer to solve their issues satisfactorily. And, you also have to keep in mind that each customer has to be allotted only a particular amount of time so as to not adversely affect the other tasks. 

Therefore, every customer service and sales executive must actively learn to do these two things: 

  • Do not make the customer appear that you are in a hurry. 
  • Solve issues effectively without taking a lot of time. 

Moreover, a customer executive or a sales rep can never be slow. 

You need to value your customer's time as well. According to a Forrester Report, 73% of the customers express that valuing time is the best thing they can do to provide good online customer service.

10. Ask Twice (or thrice) 

Many times it so happens that the customers are not able to explain the problem. Whether it is in writing or on call, they find it hard to convey the exact issue, and here is when customer service representatives need to be extra careful.

To provide a great customer service experience, you need to understand the customer, even when it is difficult. 

Here is how you can do it: Read slowly and multiple times the communications sent by the customers. Do not jump to conclusions. Picking cues from the statements customers say or write, and ask them if this is what they meant. Avoid interpreting without asking twice when unclear. 

11. Be a Team Player

If you are in the customer service field, it is evident that you are working with a team, and this needs to be kept in mind. Teamwork is listed as one of the most important customer service skills by LinkedIn as well. If you learn how to work coherently with your team to achieve goals together, you will succeed in providing satisfactory customer service. If you are not a team player, you will encounter difficulties serving your customers.

12. The Art of Upselling

Upselling is one of the most rewarding skills for customer service to have. 

Being in the customer service team means that you solve the customers' problems and add to the company's profits by upselling. 

Therefore, the people in the customer service team must possess the skill to describe and sell their products easily and appealingly. 

Thus, upselling is one of the highlighting skills that great customer service employees possess. 

If you can make an extra sale while solving the customers' queries, you have mastered the art of customer service.  

13. Be Curiosity

Similar to other customer service skills, be genuinely interested in your customer and visitors. You can do this by asking questions to dig deeper into the perils people are facing. 

You will have to go above and beyond to find more information that helps your customer.

For instance, if a customer calls and complains about your service or product. You can listen, make notes and file them in the "complaint" category, or you can ask more questions like:

  • Why are they unhappy with the product? 
  • What has caused them to call you?
  • Is their problem genuine?
  • Have other customers faced a similar issue as well?

This will not only help you on the customer service front but also help you get valuable insights on your products and service. 

These insights can be of very important use for product managers and developers while designing and developing products. 

Employers should actively look for this customer service skill in their employees; Harvard Business Review found that curiosity is important to an organization's performance.

14. Be a Life-long Learner

With various emerging technologies in the modern era, even the customer service tools and technologies are updated constantly. These updates demand the customer service executives learn quickly about all the changes. 

Therefore, a customer service executive must have the skill of inquisitiveness to learn about all the tools that they are using or going to use. 

The customer service representative must be keen on learning thoroughly about these tools by watching demos and tutorials.  

15. Keep Self Improving 

Improving oneself is a necessary skill for any job, and the customer service field requires it the most due to the adaptation of upcoming technologies, and ever-changing customer queries and expectations. 

To serve the customer more efficiently, the customer service team must keep learning about new technologies, stay motivated, and always push themselves for self-improvement.

If you cannot keep up with the change, then a lack of knowledge can lead to an unsatisfactory customer experience.

Conclusion 

So, these were the 15 potent customer service skills to keep in mind while you are dealing with customers and visitors. 

Give these customer service skills a thorough read and try to adapt them to see the impact for the short and long run. If you are familiar with some of them, try to stay true to them and brush up your knowledge. And for the new ones, congratulations you've learned something of great actionable value today. 

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