Customer service is such a thing that can either make or break a business. It is an integral part of an organization dealing with a fleet of customers and their grievances. Hence, it is also not as easy as it seems; rather it requires a good many skills that help a customer service representative overcome various challenging situations.

This article will give an overview of the top 10 must-have customer service skills required to appease customers and why businesses need such skilled individuals onboard. The compilation of the skills will help marketers optimize their customer dealings, as well as guide aspiring professionals.

Let’s dig in!

Why is customer service important?

Customer service is one of those prime requisites for a business that can never be overlooked or ignored; it is a direct interaction with your brand’s customers, who are the most important for the success of your business.

Organizations can reap a great deal of benefits by offering excellent customer service. We have compiled a list of such benefits to make the readers better understand the importance of customer service for a business.

  • Customer retention

    The more you please your customers with excellent services and support, the higher will your customer retention and lead acquisition be, eventually resulting in a higher ROI.

  • Instill and boost customer loyalty

    Customers tend to stay loyal to a brand that values them and addresses their pain points immediately and effectively. With time, your customers will become your brand advocates.

  • Improves sales

    When buyers and customers receive great pre and post-sales customer service, this automatically makes them come back to the brand without searching for other alternatives. Thus the sales skyrocket.

  • Develops a strong culture and reputation

    Top-notch customer service also testifies for the strong company culture and values, and amplifies the reputation. 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 an amiable rapport with customers opening further sales avenues. The said professional can pitch other relevant products to the customer showcasing how it will add value to them, convincing them to make the purchase.

10 important skills a customer service agent should have

Every aspiring individual interested in dealing with customers and making it a profession must possess some key skills that will empower them to deal with customers with various temperaments and behavior. It’s crucial to be equipped with these problem-solving skills that augment the organization’s reputation amongst its target audience.

Moreover, it is important for marketers as well to be aware of these traits to carry out a successful onboarding process identifying the best person having most of these key skills. Check them out below in detail:

  1. Empathy

    One of the prime skills that customer service representatives must possess is empathy. Being empathetic goes a long way and is an incredible trait that smoothens the client-dealing and interaction process.
    It is the ability to understand the feelings of the customer seeing things from their perspective and thereby addressing the concern. Empathy is considered the most humane way of developing a bonding or a connection with a customer and solving an issue efficiently.

  2. Active listening

    A customer support agent must be all ears! Being an active listener helps not only to understand the customer’s issue effectively but also to understand something unsaid. This is a skill that is acquired and enhanced with experience, but an agent must instinctively be an active listener rather than an incessant talker.

    This also helps in remembering certain crucial details such as information, 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 what the speaker is speaking, offering compelling case studies and healthy arguments that convert into conversions.

    Being persuasive must never be confused with being blatant or nagging; a persuasive support agent can significantly 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 thorough knowledge of the product or services they are discussing and know it in and out. Half-baked knowledge produces half-baked information, and such ill-conceived responses irk customers.

    They understand that the rep is not suited to solve their problems, thus, negatively perceiving the company as a whole. Customers can ask any kind of complex questions for which the agent must be prepared with a realistic and informed answer.

  6. Analytical understanding

    Like many other sectors, the customer service and support sector has also adapted to digital transformation resulting in a more data-driven approach. Customer experience analytics, previously facilitated by lengthy spreadsheets and reports, have now simplified into CRM dashboards and has become a core component for a business organization.
    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, sales tracks, how they interact with the product or services, and so on 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 previously satisfied customer into a dissatisfied one, which nobody wishes for.

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

  8. Self-control

    This skill can also be deemed as having the right amount of patience to deal with different situations and trying circumstances. Not every customer will be polite and gentle. Sometimes, support reps have to face impertinent and impolite callers who are too difficult to handle.
    However, the best customer service professional is the one who keeps their cool and treats every customer equally without banging the phone down or venting their frustration on the next caller. 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 and resolutions, setting objectives, prioritizing, dealing with procrastination, and lastly, assigning or distributing responsibilities.

    The more these tasks are performed timely, the higher the service quality that saves 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 train themselves to communicate across all possible mediums, viz., over the phone, social media, chat, email, virtual conference, etc. This 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, dealing with naive customers, and many more. 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 to 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.

Well, simply put, soft skills are those emotional traits that a customer agent must possess inherently, such as listening skills, patience and self-control, empathy, positive speaking power, etc. Some of these customer service soft skills we have already discussed above in detail.

Hard skills are mainly the acquired or learned qualities or technical abilities that customer service employees must develop with time. Some of these are analytical skills, product knowledge, knowing technical jargon, time management and 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 hard skills are prerequisites for certain jobs, while soft skills are required for most client-oriented jobs.

Without these intuitive, emotional skills, one cannot learn the harder skills and qualities, as customer service is mostly 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 run-on-the-mill pre and post-sales support and expect repeat customers. Relationships matter now, and quality customer service has taken center stage.

However, it is also impossible for marketers to maintain a full-time in-house team of customer support reps as it increases complexities in business operations. In such a plight, the best available option is to outsource the customer support services to an external agency having customer relations experts.

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

  1. It is more cost-effective: Outsourcing is a cost-effective option than maintaining a support team under fixed payroll. These third-party agencies usually have very reasonable rates as well as several packages that 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, reducing 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 and skilled workforce that can handle any kind of challenging situation. The experts are also multi-lingual, thereby catering to foreign clients effortlessly.
  4. Top-grade technologies: They also leverage best-in-class technologies for customer interaction with making 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 that 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 a team of experts, the sales and marketing teams get quality time to focus on lead nurturing, customer retention, lead acquisition, and other business development activities.

Wrapping up!

If you have made it until this point, you have a fair idea of the top ten significant customer service skills required for any business. If you are a business owner, this list will help you to evaluate potential candidates and onboard only the best.

And if you are an aspiring professional, this checklist will guide you to hone your soft skills and develop newer hard skills.

It must always be remembered that a strong customer-centric support team is the foundation of a strong organization, ensuring consistent service. Get in touch with a team of professionals who offer stellar support, such as virtual call center services, multi-lingual customer support, and so on, and increase your client base. Good luck!