Customer service is such a thing that can either make or break a business. It is very important for an organization that deals with a fleet of customers and their issues. Hence it is not as easy as it seems to be, rather requires a good many “must-have” skills. These skills help a customer service representative overcome various challenging situations.

This article will give an overview of the top 10 customer service skills required by an agent. We will also answer why businesses need such skilled individuals onboard. The compilation of the skills will help marketers optimize their customer interactions in the right way. Furthermore, the list will guide aspiring customer service professionals.

Let’s dig in!

Why is customer service important?

Customer service is the most important need for a business that cannot be ignored. Because it is the direct interaction between your brand representative and the target audience.

Organizations can reap a great deal of benefits by offering excellent customer service. We present a list of such benefits good customer interactions bring. 

  • Customer retention

    Excellent customer support can retain more customers and generate more leads. This results in a high ROI.

  • Instill and boost customer loyalty

    Customers tend to stay loyal to a brand that values them. They feel their pain points are effectively addressed. With time, these satisfied customers will become your brand advocates.

  • Improves sales

    Receiving great pre and post-sales experience, customers tend to come back to the brand. This is an automatic phenomenon preventing the customers from searching for other alternatives. Thus, the sales skyrocket.

  • Develops a strong culture and reputation

    Top-notch customer service also reflects company cultures. Strong brand values are also testified with great customer interaction. All this amplifies the entity’s online reputation to a great extent. For any organization, the stronger the reputation, the higher the brand credibility.

  • Up-sell and cross-sell other products

    A good customer service agent can build a good rapport with customers. This opens further sales avenues. The said professional can pitch other relevant products to the customer showcasing how it will add value to them. This encourages the customer to make add-on purchases.

10 important skills a customer service agent should have

Aspiring individuals interested in dealing with customers must have some essential key skills. These skills empower them to deal with customers with various temperaments. They also help to build the brand’s reputation amongst its audience.

For marketers also, knowing these problem-solving skills help to identify the best candidate. By carrying out a successful onboarding process, marketers can pick the right person.

Check out the skills below in detail:

  1. Empathy

    One of the prime skills that customer service representatives must possess is empathy. Being empathetic goes a long way. It is an incredible trait that smoothens the client-dealing and interaction process. 

    With empathy, an agent can understand the feelings of the customer they are speaking to. It is the most humane way of developing a connection with a customer.  Seeing things from their perspective helps in addressing the issue faster.

  2. Active listening

    A customer support agent must be all ears! Being an active listener helps not only to understand the customer’s issue. But also effectively understand something unsaid.

    Though this is an acquired skill that enhances with experience and training. Yet an agent must be a listener first, and then a talker. Nobody likes a person talking incessantly. Active listening also helps to remember minute details and information. Such as dates, any other issues the client faces, instructions, procedures, and so on.

  3. Persuasive Communication

    Persuasion doesn’t mean aggression. Persuasive speaking or communication skill implies being confident and positive about the topic. The topic which the speaker is speaking about, the confidence and must reflect in it. They can refer to compelling case studies and success stories while speaking. A little bit of healthy arguments and consultations turn into conversions.

    Nonetheless, one must never confuse between being persuasive and being aggressive. Being rude, nagging, or aggressive ruins a conversation. Whereas a persuasive speaker can improve customer interactions.

  4. Being attentive and mindful

    Attention to detail and being mindful of customer requirements are critical for a customer’s journey through the sales funnel. The support representative must make the caller feel they are being valued and paid attention to.

    Else, the entire conversion becomes side-tracked, with the customer feeling undervalued. This skill is integral to a business’s public image and reputation.

  5. Product knowledge

    Customer reps must have a deep knowledge of the product or services they are discussing. As half-baked knowledge produces half-baked information. This in turn creates ill-conceived responses irking clients.

    They understand that the rep is not suited to solve their problems. Thus, perceiving the company from a negative light as a whole. That’s why agents must know the service or the product in and out to give a realistic answer. Giving a well-informed response to a complex question instills trust in the prospect.

  6. Analytical understanding

    The customer service and support sector has become digitally transformed. This adaption of digital transformation has resulted in a more data-driven approach.

    Like many other sectors, this domain has also imbibed analytics into its process. For example, customer experience analytics earlier organized in lengthy excels, are now simplified. They are now displayed through a compact CRM dashboard and are the core component for the brand. 

    That said, a new-age support agent must have analytical skills to churn insights and analytics from a set of data putting the analytics to use. They must be able to derive customer data and behavior and sales tracks. They must also know how the leads interact with the product or services to deliver the best service.

  7. Decision-making ability

    There are times when a contact center rep must think objectively, weigh multiple options, and then make a decision. Bad decisions often backfire and turn a satisfied customer into a dissatisfied one. 

    Hence, a support agent must be equipped with the skill of taking a quick and correct decision. This can not only provide a solution to a customer, but also reduce the number of grievance calls.

  8. Self-control

    This skill means having the right amount of patience to manage different situations. Not every customer will be polite and gentle. Sometimes, support reps have to face trying circumstances with impertinent and impolite callers too difficult to handle.

    The best customer service professional can keep their cool and treat every customer equally. They know how to calmly speak even with a rude caller without banging the phone down. Also, venting the frustration on the next caller is a strict no-no. This is the self-control skill that helps an agent shine in their career.

  9. Time management

    Every customer service requires time management. That includes:

    • Planning
    • Reducing interruptions
    • Quick response time
    • Suggesting resolutions
    • Setting objectives
    • Prioritizing
    • Dealing with procrastination, and,
    • Assigning or distributing responsibilities

    The more these tasks are performed timely, the higher the service quality saving the customer’s and the agent’s time alike. This is a key skill to consider before taking up the job as a customer support representative.

  10. Adaptability

    As we know, communication is essential for any customer interaction. It is all the more vital to carry out that communication through all channels. This brings us to the last customer management skill on our list, adaptability. 

    To provide great customer service, support teams must communicate across all possible mediums. Such as, over the phone, social media, chat, email, virtual conference, etc. 

    Training this cross-communication skill is a life-saver. It expands the outreach, brings flexibility, and also strengthens a professional’s resume. 

    However, not just technical adaptability, a rep must also be adaptable from within. For example:

    • Stretching a few hours during a critical issue resolution.
    • Being prepared for any unknown situations.
    • Making themselves available for any unforeseen event.
    • Dealing with naive customers and more. 

    In a nutshell, being adaptable is the key these days to gratify modern customers.

The list can go on and on; we have just compiled the top ten must-haves. All the qualities mentioned above are equally important for a business. They can help run a business smoothly while maintaining a healthy customer relationship. One has to strike a perfect balance between these skills and strive to deliver the best. 

Only then their career, as well as the organization’s reputation, will shine and thrive.

Difference between soft skills and hard skills in customer service

Now, let’s quickly check what are soft skills and hard skills, and what the fundamental difference between the two is.

Soft Skills

Well, simply put, soft skills are those emotional traits that a customer agent must possess inherently. These are categorized as:

  • Listening skills
  • Patience and self-control
  • Empathy
  • Positive speaking power, etc.

Some of these customer service soft skills have already been discussed above in detail.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are mainly the acquired or learned qualities or technical abilities that must develop with time. 

Some of these are:

  • Analytical skills
  • Product knowledge
  • Knowing technical jargon
  • Time management
  • Fast response
  • Domain and industry expertise, and so on.

The application and usage of both hard and soft skills depend on the situations and how relevant these are for such cases. Generally, customer service is required for certain jobs. Whereas soft skills are needed in most client-oriented jobs.

Without these intuitive, emotional skills, one cannot learn the harder skills and qualities. Because customer service is all about building a relationship with the customer.

How can outsourcing your customer service requirements enhance your business?

The marketplace is evolving rapidly. It is Industry 4.0 now, and digital transformation has majorly impacted all sectors. This has made modern customers much more informed and aware than before. 

Moreover, there are so many options available. Companies can no longer offer poor pre and post-sales support and expect repeat customers. Relationships matter now, and quality customer service has taken center stage.

However, maintaining  a full-time in-house team of customer support reps is challenging. Since it increases business operation complexities making it difficult for the marketer. Thus, the best available option is to outsource the customer support services to an external agency. Working with an agency having customer relations experts reduces the operation burden.

Let’s check the sure-fire reasons why outsourcing to professional call center companies is ideal these days.

  1. It is more cost-effective: Outsourcing is a cost-effective option than maintaining a team under fixed payroll. Third-party agencies have very reasonable rates as well as several packages. These packages are ultimately lower in cost than the monthly salaries of an in-house team.
  2. More scalable: Outsourced teams can increase or decrease the team size based on the client’s requirements. This greatly reduces the total project value. Whenever the requirement is more, the team can upsize accordingly.
  3. Robust infrastructure and workforce: External agencies are backed by a robust infrastructure. They also have a skilled workforce that can handle any kind of challenging situation. The experts are also bilingual, thereby catering to foreign clients effortlessly.
  4. Top-grade technologies: They leverage best-in-class technologies for customer interaction. These technologies make the process more smooth and tech-savvy. Chatbots, IVRs, real-time messaging, omni-channel support, and many more such technologies are implemented. Along with these, advanced CRM software are integrated to churn customer data and user behavior. This data further helps make data-driven marketing and sales strategies.
  5. Business owners can focus on core business areas: This is perhaps the biggest reason why outsourcing is a boon for businesses of all sizes. When customer service gets delegated to experts, the sales and marketing teams have less pressure. They can use this quality time in-house to
    • Lead acquisition
    • Lead nurturing
    • Customer retention, and
    • Other core business development activities

Wrapping up!

Hope you have got a fair idea of the top ten vital customer service skills required for any business. If you are a business owner, evaluate potential candidates keeping this list handy and select the best. Your onboarding process will be full-proof.

If you are an aspiring professional, this checklist will guide you to hone your soft skills. Also, you can develop newer hard skills knowing where to start.

Always remember, a strong customer-centric support team is the foundation of a strong organization. Which in turn, ensures consistent service generating more loyal customers.

Get in touch with a team of professionals who offer stellar support, such as virtual call center services, and multilingual customer support. Start increasing your client base with great customer service. Good luck!