The business landscape has changed in the past year, but it’s clear that customer service skills are more important than ever. Today’s customers have adapted to a range of service models, including chat support, email help, phone-based representatives, and more.
Brands that can identify customer’s issues, clarify problems, and quickly offer solutions will grow and thrive in any market. Learn about 21 customer service skills needed in 2021, including vibrant options that enhance automation in customer service.
1. Active Listening
At its core, customer service is about listening to your community.
Every member of your company should focus on active listening, which is the art of focusing on what someone is saying. Don’t try to jump ahead of your customer, assume what they're going to say, or prepare your response while they’re talking.
Instead, truly engage with what they’re telling you. Active listening can make any customer service interaction easier on both sides.
2. The Ability To Prioritize
Triaging is a vital skill for any customer service rep, particularly people who work face-to-face with clients.
Today’s employees may be responsible for many different tasks ranging from email queues to order fulfillment to online transactions and, problem-solving. The ideal rep can prioritize the most important task at any given moment.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Society could use a little more empathy and compassion after the events of the past year.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to respond thoughtfully and appropriately to customers based on their emotional state.
Any experience customer service worker has faced a frustrated or upset customer who calmed down after they felt heard. Emotional intelligence helps employees respond to every customer in the best way possible.
4. Standardized Practices
Standard operating procedures should be a foundational part of your business model.
Your employees should understand the typical practices and be confident applying the guidelines in all situations. Moving towards automation in customer service helps you take standardization to the next level.
Automated responses, email outreach, and marketing campaigns allow you to streamline your customer service while remaining consistent.
Some customers have simple concerns that are relatively easy to address, but other customers bring complex, tangled problems to the table.
The best customer service team members are patient with each customer. They remember that the customer may not be familiar with every policy and are happy to explain the process.
Patience and understanding can increase customer satisfaction in even the trickiest situations.
6. Digital Literacy
As society becomes increasingly digital, customer service representatives should be familiar with common tools and technologies.
Customers may get in touch through a variety of modern methods such as chat, whatsapp, social media,emails and more. Customer service staff can help their clients by keeping current on digital changes and advances.
A customer service team is on the front lines of a brand’s response. Representatives may be the first people to catch patterns such as defective products, website errors, or misprints.
A curious customer service rep who investigates recurring concerns can be a valuable asset to their company in the long run.
8. Product Expertise
Likewise, a customer service professional should understand how their supported product works.
Whether they manage a physical or digital product, it will be easier to identify customer’s issues when a rep is familiar with the product.
Representatives should study their brand training and invest as much time as possible in learning their product.
Building a knowledge base and keeping it up to date is the best way to master your product and its new features
Teamwork is vital in customer service. A well-prepared service rep knows how to respond quickly to customer requests, including by bringing in other teams and experts.
Some customers will have complex problems that need to be escalated to a manager or another response team. Service reps should feel comfortable and empowered to take this step whenever necessary.
By using automatic classification tools for customer requests, collaboration between agents can become more seamless.
10. Positive Language
Customer service team members can set an interaction's tone by using positive language.
Uplifting words and a friendly tone of voice can help customers feel welcomed and understood. Positive word choices also paint the brand in the best possible light, building positive associations for the customer.
Customer service can be a challenging job. Any team member who’s worked over the holidays, after a major product release, during a recall, or in any other difficult situation is well aware of this fact.
Self-control allows reps to stay cool, collected, and professional regardless of their challenges. This attitude helps team members provide a good experience for the customer while also maintaining their professional standards.
12. Analytical Skills
Customer service workers have direct interactions with customers. They may be the first or only line of defense against inappropriate or fraudulent transactions.
On the other hand, representatives may be the only contact for customers who are legitimately facing extenuating circumstances. A good service team member can analyze a situation and make the right choice based on facts.
Moreover, relying on Artificial Intelligence and RPA, it is easier to detect fraud, and instantly forward the problem to the right managers in the company.
13. Time Management
Time management is a valuable skill in many settings. In a physical store with a nightly closing time, customer service workers need to encourage customers to finish their transactions and go home without any hard feelings.
Likewise, phone or digital support staff must be mindful of their queue and wait times, helping clients solve their problems in as quick a time as possible.
14. Persuasive Speaking Skills
Persuasion is useful in many customer-facing interactions. Once a customer service rep can identify customer’s issues, they can gently guide the customer towards desired outcomes.
From convincing disappointed customers not to cancel a subscription, to upselling an additional product line, to signing customers up for a loyalty program, there are many reasons why persuasion is one of the most useful customer service skills.
A customer service rep may improve performance and customer satisfaction by using templates predefined and optimized to meet any customer requirements.
Customer service reps will succeed when they can adapt to many different scenarios.
Every customer has a unique backstory, problem, and relationship with the brand. Service reps should be ready to work with a new and different person in each interaction.
Adaptability also helps representatives who may be called to help a different department or temporarily manage a new task.
Just like every customer is different, so is every customer interaction.
Some situations fit neatly into standard procedures and guidelines, but other problems are harder to qualify. Creative thinking can help a customer service rep find a useful resolution that makes the customer happy while also remaining within the brand’s standard policies.
17. Writing Skills
Customer service has traditionally been handled in person or through phone calls, but written communication is becoming a major focus.
Chat help, support emails, social media direct messages, and many other tools are widespread thanks to growing automation in customer service.
When a human representative is writing to a customer, they should use their best writing skills. spelling, grammar, and online etiquette help present the company in a good light while maintaining positive customer relationships.
Persistence can be necessary for customer service. Some customers require multiple touch-points to help them resolve their complaints.
Other users don’t immediately engage with a company but do eventually convert after repeated attempts. Tenacity is a vital customer service skill because it helps customer service reps make these follow-up contacts.
Tenacity can also drive a customer service rep to find a solution for their client, even if it means spending a little extra time on the issue.
A company’s policies must be evenly enforced, or they become meaningless. A standard doesn’t stand for anything if it’s not true across situations.
A good customer service rep is consistent in their actions and decisions. When working with customers face-to-face, team members shouldn’t allow someone’s dress, mannerisms, or other forms of physical appearance to influence their decisions. Similarly, phone or online reps who can pull up a client’s account information shouldn’t let income levels, zip code, age, or other elements play a part in their actions. Consistency will help all customers feel equally valued and respected.
Information about all customers must be accessible immediately and comprehensively. For this reason, advanced tools, directly connected to a CRM, are always recommended.
Confident decision-making is an important part of learning how to respond quickly to customer requests.
Customer service representatives should be decisive and confident at work. When a rep can provide a firm answer that’s fair and backed up by company policy, this provides a foundation for the customer interaction.
Both the customer and the staff person can move forward when they understand the basic decisions that have been made.
21. The Ability To Admit Not Knowing Something
Even the best customer service representative is still a person. Occasional outlier situations may be so far outside a team member’s training and experience that they’re not sure what to do.
It’s always best to be honest with the customer in these cases. A good team member is comfortable telling a customer that they’re not sure, but that they’re going to find out what to do next. This admission makes the interaction more transparent and helps the customer know that their problem is being addressed.
In the future, make sure you integrate this new case into the collaborative customer relations tool, so that each agent who comes across this issue again will be prepared to respond appropriately.
Focus On Customer Service
Customer service remains a vital aspect of any industry. No matter your role, experience, or area of expertise, everyone must build their customer service skills to succeed.
Skillsets such as understanding how to respond quickly to customer requests, staying positive, thinking creatively, and the other tools we discussed will help any professional. Work on your individual skills and encourage a customer focused culture to improve results at any level.