#1 Effective Listening
The foundation for providing great service is, first of all, the ability to simply listen to what a customer is saying. Customers are already often frustrated about something when they call, and nothing compounds that frustration more than to feel misunderstood and misinterpreted. Listening isn’t just about hearing what is being said, but also what is not being explicitly said in order to offer the best solution.
Empathy is essentially the ability to see and feel the world through the eyes of another by experiencing their emotions. In customer service, empathy means the ability to identify with and, hence, validate the customer’s problem and the consideration and respect for the customer goes a long way in giving the customer a sense of trust in the process. So, put aside your own viewpoint, and try and see things from the customer’s point of view.
Maintaining a sense of empathy will also help in maintaining one’s self-control, and that’s important because customer service reps are sometimes going to be the primary target of customer frustration. However, at the same time, it requires the skill to listen to emotion without emotion, to always be aware that that the customer anger is not directed at you personally, even if their language is, so stay calm and under control at all times to diffuse these situations.
#4 Clear Communication
If you are not a great communicator, you will probably not make it in customer service for very long. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively verbally (and written) is essential. This means getting to the problem at hand quickly and keeping the small talk to a minimum. In other words, finding the balance between being friendly and conversational and giving the right answers in a removed, professional style. Clarity isn’t just important for making your customer feel good and secure; it can also have a big effect on your bottom line.
#5 Positive Language
Language is a powerful tool and the way in which you use it will determine whether your words are received positively or negatively. Especially in the realm of customer service, small shifts in the way reps communicate by using only positive language can reap tremendous benefits. Being optimistic can help a customer stay positive, too. By simply using positive language that reflects confidence in finding a solution, this will reassure a customer and improve the entire customer experience.
#6 Persuasive Speaking
While speaking clearly and positively are both essential aspects of effective communication, it doesn’t end there. Keeping your customers at the center through active persuasive speaking skills can dramatically help your customer interactions. The key to persuasive speaking is always putting the focus on the target of persuasion, i.e. the customer. For example, always calling a customer by name, using the active tense in words or phrases, as well as avoiding your personal thoughts or opinions that take the focus off the customer.
#7 Time Management
Proper time management in customer service means supplying customers what they want in a timely, efficient manner. While there is obviously a need at times to spend more time on particular customer issues, customer service reps need to be aware when they cannot help a customer. If you don't know the solution to a problem, the best kind of customer service means transferring a customer over to a rep that does. Sometimes, trying too hard to help a customer will cause more harm than good.
#8 Learning Ability
One of the most essential customer service skills is indeed the ability to learn about and internalize everything there is to know about each product or service, as well as the various solutions for various circumstances, and to have them on the tips of one’s fingers. This also includes company offers, sales, as well as the knowledge of all call center technology to deliver customer service with full confidence.
Adaptability means being able to take that knowledge and use it to adjust to any situation at any given time, making it one of the most essential customer service skills. One service interaction may completely differ from another, so customer service reps need to be constantly prepared to handle the pressure of coming up with the right solution for every problem that gets thrown at them at the moment.
#10 Desire to Improve
In customer service, there’s always room to improve. Customer service reps who aren’t looking to improve themselves and find solutions to their own problems are going to be hard-pressed to consistently find the solutions to other people’s problems.
[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that align with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.