Excellent customer service is the pinnacle of business. It opens up more opportunities than just deals. But also has the power to define your business and differentiate it from competitors. A recent study states that 86% of consumers would rather pay more for a better customer experience. So clearly, it’s vital to get it right. Read on to discover 8 vital customer service skills you need to transform your operations and go from strength to strength.
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What is Customer Service?
Customer service is supporting customers before, during and after they purchase so that they enjoy the buying experience. Hence, excellent customer service will increase customer retention and fuel business growth.
However, today’s customer service support goes far beyond traditional support. Modern customer service roles are now email, web, text message, chat support and social media.
But regardless of your approach, excellent customer service is more than just answering customers’ questions. It’s fulfilling the promise your brand makes.
Why is Customer Service important?
Why is customer service so important?
Well, consider that 89% of companies now expect to compete on customer experience. This statistic means that people are more likely to do business with people they know, like and trust. So, you can understand why customer service is a critical component of competing effectively.
In the past, customers would determine who they did business with based on price and the product’s quality or service. Now, with so much global competition, customers need an additional driver to trust that you’re the right brand.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed customer service forever. What started as a health crisis quickly became the catalyst in our transition to a digital-first world. More so, a buyer-centric mindset.
Discover how you or your sales reps can use customer service as a differentiator with Ron Kaufman:
What are Customer Service Skills?
Any time you must engage with a customer while properly representing your organization, you’re exercising customer service skills. As such, anyone in sales must be able to exercise high levels of customer service skills.
2 Types of Customer Service Skills
Before we delve into the 8 customer service skills you need to have, it’s essential to understand the differentiation between certain types:
1. Soft Customer Service Skills
Soft skills are hard to learn but are much harder to measure or even evaluate. But, like emotions, soft skills allow customer service professionals to “read” people, allowing them to better relate to the customers they serve. Examples of soft skills include communication, creative thinking, positivity, conflict resolution, motivation, critical thinking, flexibility and problem-solving.
2. Hard Customer Service Skills
On the other hand, hard skills are job-specific abilities or knowledge developed through education, training, or just practice. Examples of hard skills include computer technology, hard communication skills (translating, language skills), project management software and hard marketing skills (Social Media.)
8 Must-have Customer Service Skills
Here are the 8 vital customer service skills you need to have in 2021 to be successful.
1. Product knowledge
It may seem obvious, but the best customer service professionals have robust product knowledge.
How else can you suggest the right product to solve your customers’ problems? Especially if you don’t know how they work.
By studying your company’s products and services, you can better understand your customers’ experience, which positions you as their strongest advocate.
Customers are trying to solve a problem when they connect with your business. Naturally, they may be confused or frustrated when your paths cross.
Hence why customer service professionals must practice good patience skills. As a customer service professional, you need to be ready to take the time to listen, understand and identify your customers’ needs. But this is not a quick process.
By taking a genuine interest with an abundance of patience, your customers will recognise this and be thankful for your guidance. A skill that helps to strengthen your customer relationship in the long term.
As a customer service professional, you’re your company’s voice. This means you need the communication skills to simplify complex concepts for customers. This includes eye contact, body language and using positive language.
We all know that miscommunication can be a source of stress, pain and awkwardness when finding a solution to a problem. That’s why active listening is also one of the most important customer service skills in your communication toolkit.
4. Problem-solving abilities
Customers often know they have a problem. But self-diagnose and prescribe solutions to themselves that don’t work.
Hence, customer service professionals must take the initiative to solve the problem. Or, in this situation, educate the customer and go the extra mile for their satisfaction.
Problem-solving is a vital customer service skill that allows you to offer pre-emptive advice to self-diagnosing customers.
5. Emotional intelligence
What exactly is emotional intelligence?
It’s the capacity to recognise your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and understand how your emotions affect others.
Yet, it also involves your perception of others. In particular, understanding how they feel to manage relationships better.
Excellent customer service professionals must have high emotional intelligence and be very self-aware. More so, they must confident with frustrated customers by trusting their intuition.
Leading on from our last customer service skill. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of someone other than yourself. You can even develop and improve it over time.
It’s a vital customer service skill because your ability to empathise with customers and craft a message that steers them towards your solution is invaluable.
For this reason, you need to practise empathy. By doing so, you’ll be able to understand your customers’ frustrations and challenges better. So you can overcome their hurdles together.
Sometimes a little creativity, standing apart from the crowd, and showing innovation can improve customer service tenfold. Maybe even in ways, your managers could never imagine.
A tenacity for what you do and a great work ethic are vital to providing the kind of service people discuss with friends and family.
8. Drive to learn
Negative attitudes just become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For this reason, creating and maintaining a positive attitude is vital for working in customer service. Your drive is the basis of your motivation for growing your customer service skills. If you don’t have the drive to learn, you risk losing out to customer service professionals who are willing to develop and evolve in their roles.