21 Key Customer Service Skills (and how to develop them)

As Sally Gronow said, “Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.”

Even if you have great products, if your customer service is poor, people will complain about it, and you’ll lose customers. So, start focusing on customer service as well and develop skills related to it. The importance of customer service is obvious, even statistics says so. In fact, according to Oracle research, 86% of customers quit doing business with a company due to a bad experience. This means that your businesses must approach every support interaction as an opportunity to acquire, retain, or up-sell. This approach requires essential skills.

Here are 21 key customer skills that you need to focus on developing.
1. Problem-Solving.

According to Statista, 27% of Americans report that ineffective service is their number one customer service frustration. Therefore, it’s important that you are able to solve their problems to ensure customer satisfaction. A problem-solving pro may simply understand how to offer preemptive advice or a solution that the customer doesn’t even realize is an option.
2. Attentiveness.

It’s essential that you pay attention to individual customers’ experiences, but it’s also important to be mindful and attentive to the feedback that you receive at large. A skill to truly listen is appreciated by the customers. In fact, according to New voice media, feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch products and services.
3. Patience.

It’s obvious that the customers who reach out for support are often confused and frustrated. Therefore, being listened to and handled with patience goes a long way in helping customers feel like you’re going to lessen their current frustrations. Being patient includes taking the time to listen and understand each customer’s problems and needs.

4. Emotional Intelligence.

A great customer service skill to be able relate to anyone, especially those customers who are frustrated. According to Harvard business review, 84% of customers report that their expectations had not been exceeded in their last interaction with customer service. So, it’s key for support rep to demonstrate sincere empathy for a frustrated customer.
5. Clear writing skills.

Writing requires a unique ability to convey tone. How a sentence is phrased can make huge difference in customer service. even if most customer service occurs over phone or social media, good writing skills can be of great importance as it signify a person who thinks and communicates clearly.
6. Clear communication skills.

According to Pwc, 75% of consumers will still choose to interact with a real person even as the technology for automated solutions improves. Thus, the ability to communicate clearly when working with customers is a key skill because miscommunications can result in disappointment and frustration. The best customer service professionals know how to keep their communications with customers simple and leave nothing to doubt.
7. A positive vocabulary.

When responding to questions, the use positive language can greatly affect how the customer hears the response. Good customer service focuses on when and how the issue will be resolved instead of focusing on the negative complaint.
8. Persuasion skills.

Many a times customers are confused about the solution or product that the customer service provides to, in those situations some mastery of persuasion can convince interested prospects that your product is right for them. It’s not a sales pitch, it’s about making conversation that are compelling to the customers. In fact, HubSpot research shows that 73% of customers say they stay loyal to brands because of friendly customer service agents.
9. Acting skills.

Every great customer service professional needs some basic acting skills to help them maintain a cheery persona in spite of dealing with people who are grumpy and angry. Sometimes, you’ll face customer who can never be satisfied, in those situations a competent acting skill will help you manage your facade well.

10. Time management.

An efficient customer service professional will be quick to recognize when they can’t help a customer, so they can quickly get that customer to someone who can help them instead. There is a limit to the amount of time you can dedicate to each customer, so, managing time accordingly is important. In fact, Zendesk states that, nearly 60% of customers feel that long holds and wait times are the most frustrating parts of a service experience.
11. Good product knowledge.

In customer service you should have deep knowledge of how your companies’ products work. Because without knowing your product from front to back, you won’t know how to help when customers run into problems.
12. Goal Oriented.

The goal of customer service is to solve the customer’s issues as soon as one can and focus on it is a very important skill. Business goals and customer happiness should work hand-in-hand. Therefore, a good framework is essential as it allows freedom to handle each customer, but also have priority solutions for common problems.
13. Being cool under pressure.

The best customer service reps know that they can’t let a heated customer force them to lose their cool. They are able to keep their clam even in the most heated conversations and customer love that. In fact, RightNow suggests that 73% of customers fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives.
14. Great work ethics.

Customer service representative should be able to do whatever needs to be done for resolving the problem at hand. Being unconventional and beyond the standard process is a skill every business should look for in their customer service team.
15. Handle surprises well.

Customers can be unreasonable sometimes; they can ask for requests that aren’t covered in customer service guidelines. In situation like these, the skill of handling surprises and acting on it on is preferred. It’s always good to have a team of people who can think on their feet.

16. Empathy

According to Zendesk, 81 percent of consumers say a positive customer service experience increases the chances of them making another purchase. The support rep’s ability to empathize with a customer and craft a message that steers things toward a better outcome can often make all the difference.

17. Methodical.

Hiring deliberate, detail-oriented people will go a long way in meeting the needs of your customers. The best hires are able to maintain their methodical grace even under fire, they understand how not to understand the urgency and potential effect of frustrated customers.
18. Willing to learn.

Willingness to learn is the basis for growing skills as a customer service professional. They have to be willing to learn your product inside and out, willing to learn how to communicate better, willing to learn when it’s okay to follow a process and when it’s not. Salesforce says that, 83% of high-performing service agents say they get the training they need to do their job well compared to only 52% of underperformers.

19. Ability to be close.

One should be able to get close with a customer as a customer service professional and being able to end the conversation with confirmed customer satisfaction or as close to it as they can achieve it, with the customer feeling that everything has been taken care of.
20. Being able read to the situation(customer)

A good customer service provide should have the skill to assess, how to watch and listen for subtle clues about a customer’s current mood, patience level, personality and so on.  This goes a long way in keeping customer interactions positive.
21. Creativity.

Anyone can read the guidelines and solve the customer’s problems but what most business look for is the creativity to do whatever should be done in a way that customers love. Different fun ways to go the extra mile and especially wanting to do so is always appreciated.

These are many ways one can develop these skills in their customer service team. Training is a common way along with orientation programs. Hiring people who have most of these skills is a smart way to go around the business service. When you provide your team with some clear guidelines for what you expect and some examples of what great customer service looks like at your company in a way that brings to bear all of these skills that we’ve mentioned. In fact, according to salesforce, 88% of high-performing service decision-makers are investing significantly in agent training compared to only 57% of underperformers. So, let’s focus of these skills that are important for any business.