Five Customer Service Skills Essential for Employee

January 12, 2021 by  

Great customer service is essential in virtually every industry. From the dentist office to the furniture store, customers have more choice than ever before. This freedom allows them to quickly dismiss companies that don’t treat them as they’d like. When competition is this fierce, customer service is often the only thing separating you from your business rivals.
Since even the smallest of mistakes can cost you a customer, there is not much margin for error, especially in the time of COVID-19. It is imperative to have skilled, well-rounded, and highly-trained employees as the face of your company.

If you are hoping to up your customer service game, make sure everyone on your team has these five valuable skills:

Patience
They say patience is a virtue, and that is never more true in a customer service setting. It is a challenging skill to master, but once your employees have learned to be patient, the results can be remarkable. When customers stop by or call in with a question, concern, or frustration, it is up to your team to meet them where they are. Waiting while they explain the issue even if they include irrelevant details is truly an art, not a science.
Customer service is about quality, not speed. While your team can certainly take a fast approach to problem-solving, treating your customers like a chore to be checked off your to-do list is never a good idea. Instead, coach your employees to roll up their sleeves and dig into each customer’s concerns. Rush through and you could miss important details that are vital to solving the issue at hand, while also indicating to customers that they are not worth your time.
In times of uncertainty, like during the spread of COVID-19, patience becomes even more important. We are all contending with the reality of each new headline and what it means for our families and careers. Callers may feel out of sorts and craving control in any form possible. This often manifests as a particularly contagious form of anxiety. It is up to patient employees to relieve tension whenever confronted with this kind of anxiety in customers.

Communication
To get to the heart of any request or problem, you have got to understand it thoroughly. Clear communication between customer and employee is essential to success. Miscommunication can seriously derail even the most well-intentioned of folks, so train your team to clearly and carefully explain options to their customers.
Mastering communication skills can take a lifetime, but you and your colleagues can easily improve your abilities with just a few key strategies. Here is one to try: the next time you are deep in conversation with a customer, try taking notes. Even jotting down main bullet points can improve communication efforts and make it easy to ensure the customer feels heard.
The Coronavirus has changed the way many businesses operate. Policies and procedures may be different than what customers are used to. It’s important to be upfront about any differences in how you are handling things as a company. Communicate those nuances and you will likely be met with understanding and a willingness to go with the flow. People know that a pandemic throws a wrench in things and that we are all just trying to do the best we can.

Active Listening
Speaking of feeling heard, active listening is an incredibly important aspect of customer service. Unfortunately, it is not as widely taught to employees as it probably should be. Most people like to think of themselves as good listeners. In reality, many of us are simply waiting for our turn to talk. To ensure you are actively listening, take time to review what the person has said to you.
While it may seem redundant, repeating back the customer’s concerns in a succinct manner shows that they have indeed captured your full attention. Mirroring what they have said also gives the customer a chance to clarify details or add information they had left out when explaining. Ultimately, active listening can help solve problems more quickly while simultaneously ensuring customers that you’re completely engaged in the conversation.

Product/Service Knowledge
It is hard to sell a product or service without knowing much about them. The same goes for providing customer service for what your company offers. With that in mind, take time to train each of your employees on your offerings. The idea is hardly any good orientation program should include an overview of the products and services you sell. Still, you would be surprised at how many employees shrug off this initial introduction to the company. Make product education an ongoing part of employee development, and it will pay off in spades.

Encourage your team to study the policies, procedures, services and products any time they are not helping customers. Pop quizzes with small prizes are a good way to boost morale while prioritizing this important customer service skill. When it comes time to answer questions and address customer concerns, employees will be ready for anything.

Empathy
Perhaps the most challenging of all customer service skills, empathy doesn’t always come naturally to employees. When your team is feeling overworked or underappreciated, their frustrations will show up in their conversations with customers. The good news? Empathy is contagious. If you manage from a place of empathy, that same sentiment can trickle down.
An easy way to encourage employees to practise empathy is to have them imagine the customer as a friend or loved one. Helping a frustrated elderly customer with an order is easier when you imagine your grandma or grandpa in their shoes. Assisting a scatterbrained mom who cannot find her wallet is made much more tolerable when picturing your best friend in a similar situation after all, each of your customers is someone’s grandparent, mother, or friend!

Empathy is especially important during times of crisis. Each person brings a new set of experiences and perspectives to the conversation. Amidst the spread of COVID-19, employees must wear their empathy like a badge of honour. A little kindness during customer service interactions can go a long way to relieving anxieties and winning repeat business at the same time.

First-hand experience can go a long way in honing your customer service skills. While reading, training and careful preparation can be helpful, there is nothing like the real thing. Practice when you can, but do not be afraid to try out your customer service skills as soon as possible.


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