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15 Customer service skills for every employee to k

11 September 2014, 2:07 pm

There are certain customer service skills that every employee must master if they are forward-facing with customers. Without them, you run the risk of finding you business in a disturbing customer service train-wreck, or simply losing customers as your service continues to let people down. Luckily, there are a few universal skills that every support member can master that will immensely boost their interactions with customers.
Below are 15 most needed skills. It is the customer service skills that matter. When most business publications talk about customer service skills, things like “being a people person” tend to take the spotlight…
It’s not that this trait is out-and-out wrong, but it’s so imprecise and comprehensive that it is hardly a help to those looking to get involved in support positions within a company, and certainly doesn’t help out entrepreneurs/founders who are looking for the right set of skills when hiring the all-important folks who will be taking care of their customers. Let’s get into some specific skills that every support employee can mater to “WOW” the customers that they collaborate with on a daily basis…
1. Patience
If you don’t see this adjoining the top of a customer service skills list, you should just stop reading. Not only is patience extensive to customers, who often reach out to support when they are baffled a disheartened, but also important to the business at large: we’ve shown you before that great service beats fast service every single time. Yet endurance shouldn’t be used as an excuse for lazy service either! If you deal with customers on a daily basis, be sure to stay patient when they come to you stumped and dishearten, but also be sure to take the time to truly analyze what they want – they’d rather get appropriate service than be hurried out the door.
2. Attentiveness
The capability to really listen to customers is so essential for providing great service for a number of reasons. Not only is it important to pay attention to individual customer interplay, but it’s also important to be observant and vigilant to the feedback you receive at large. For example, customers may not be saying it straight forward, but perhaps there is an extensive feeling that your software’s dashboard isn’t laid out correctly. Customers aren’t likely to say, “Please improve your UX”, but they may say things like, “I can never find the search feature”, or “Where is the function at again?”
3. Clear Communication Skills
For all the “mumblers” and people who love to ramble on, you need to listen up! It’s okay to find out more about your customers, but make sure you are getting to the problem quickly; customers don’t need your life story or to hear about how your day is going. More importantly, you need to be careful about how some of your communication habits convert to customers, and it’s best to err on the side of caution whenever you find yourself inquiring a situation. When it comes to important points that you need to communicate clearly to customers, keep it simple and leave nothing to doubt.

4. Knowledge of the Product
The best forward-facing employees in your company will work on having a deep insight of how your product works. It’s not that every single team member should be able to build your product from scratch, but rather they should know the full particulars of how your product works, just like a customer who uses it everyday would. Without knowing your product from front-to-back, you won’t know how to help customers when they run into problems.

5. Ability to Use “Positive Language”
Sounds like foolishness, but your ability to make small changes in your conversational patterns cab truly go a long way in creating happy customers. Language is a very important part of congency, and people (especially customers) create an idea about you and your company based of the language the you use. Here’s an example: Let’s say a customer contacts you with an interest in an exact product, but that product happens to be backordered until next month. Without positive language:”I can’t get you that product until next month; it’s back-ordered and nonexistent at this time.”
With positive language like”That product will be able next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse.”The first example isn’t negative by any means, but the tone it channels feels abrupt and impersonal, and can be taken the defective way by customers. Contrarily, the second example is stating the same thing (the item is unavailable), but instead focuses on when/how the customer will get to their decision rather than focusing on the negative.

6. Acting Skills
Let’s get real sincere… sometimes you’re going to come across people that you will never be able to make happy. Situations out of your command (they had a terrible day, or they are just a natural-born complainer) will sometimes glide into your usual support routine, and you will be greeted with those parasite customers that seem to want nothing else but to pull you down. Every great customer service rep will have those basic acting skills necessary to keep up their usual cheery personality in spite of dealing with people who may be just plain grumpy.

7. Time Management Skills
Although many research on why you should spend more time with customers, the essence is that there is a limit, and you need to be concerned with getting customers what they want in an adequate manner. The trick is that this should also be used when realizing when you clearly cannot help a customer. If you don’t know the answer to a problem, the best kind of support member will get a customer over to someone who does. Don’t waste time trying to go above and beyond for a customer in a area where you will just end up wasting both of your time.

8. Ability to Read Customers
You won’t always be able to see customers face-to-face, and in many situations you won’t even hear a customer’s voice! That doesn’t discharge you from understanding some basic principles of behavioral psychology and being able to read the customer’s current emotional state. This is a valuable part of the personalization process as well, because it takes knowing your customers to create a personal background from them. More importantly though, this skill is vital because you don’t want to mis-read a customer and end up losing them due to confusion and misperception.

9. A Calming Presence
There is a lot of methods for this kind of personality, but it all symbolizes the same thing. The ability that some people have to stay calm and even control other when things get a little hectic. The best customer service reps know that they can’t let a heated customer force them to lose their cool; in fact it is their job to try to be the “rock” for a customer who thinks the world is falling down due to their present problems.

10. Goal Oriented Focus
This may seem like an unfamiliar thing to list as a customer service skill, but it is vitally important. I noted that many customer service experts have shown how giving employee’s unburdened power to “WOW” customers doesn’t always create the returns that many businesses expect to see. That’s because it leaves employees without goals, and business goals + customer happiness can work hand-in hand without developing in poor service. Depend frameworks like the Net Promoter Score can help businesses come up with guidelines with their employees that allow lots of freedom to handle customers on a case-to-case basis, but also leave them priority resolutions and “go-to” fixes for common problems.

11. Ability to Handle Surprises
Regardless of the above, sometimes the customer support world is going to throw you a curveball. Maybe the problem you encounter isn’t particularly covered in the company’s guidelines, or maybe the customer isn’t reacting how you thought they would. Whatever the case, it’s best to be able to think on your feet… but it’s even better to create guidelines for yourself in these sorts of situations. Who? What? How?

12. Persuasion Skills
A lot of people won’t see this one coming! Wise customer support personnel know that oftentimes, you will get messages in your inbox that are more about the eagerness of your company’s product, rather than having problems with it. To truly take your customer skills to the next level, you need to have some mastery of persuasion so that you can assure interested customers that your product is right for them. It’s not about making a sales pitch in each email, but it is about not letting potential customers slip away because you couldn’t create an irresistible message that your company’s product is worth purchasing!

13. Tenacity
Call it what you want, but a great work ethic and an enthusiasm to do what needs to be done (and not take shortcuts) is a key skill when providing the kind of service that people talk about. The many memorable customer service stories out there (many of which had a huge colision on the business) were created by a single employee who refused to just do the “status quo” when it came to helping someone out. Remembering that your customers are people too, and knowing that putting in the extra effort will come back to you ten-fold should be your driving motivation to never “cheat” your customers with inactive service.

14. Closing Ability
Being able to close with a customer means being able to end the conversation with confirmed pleasure, and with the customer feeling that everything has been taken care of. Getting booted after a customer service call or before all their problems have been addressed is the last thing that customers want, so be sure to take the time to confirm with customers that each and every issue they had on deck has been entirely cleared up. Your enthusiasm to do these shows the customer 3 very important things: That you care about getting it right. That you’re ready to keep going until you get it right. That the customer is the one who decides what “right” is. When you get a customer to, “Yes I’m all set!” is when you know the conversation is over.

15. Willingness to Learn
This is probably the most general skill on the list, but it’s still necessary. Those who don’t seek to to improve what they do, whether it’s building products, marketing businesses, or helping customers, will get left behind by the people ready to invest their skills. We love how the BufferApp team approaches this ability with their wonderful monthly customer happiness updates. The updates are public, detailed, and go through how the support team (and the team at large) handled incoming emails every month. What better way can a startup’s support team learn as it goes then breaking down their own customer happiness metrics each and every month, for the public to see?

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