The ultimate list of customer service skills

When you’re building a customer facing business or team in any industry, you need to make sure that you’re hiring team members with the right customer service skills for the job.

It’s a tough line of work, but with the right skills it can also be an incredibly fulfilling one – it’s a role filled with fast-paced problem-solving, negotiations, and relationship management, making it an ideal job for anyone who likes to be kept on their toes and ready to react to situations.

But what are the key skills that you should be looking for as a business looking to invest in the right customer service infrastructure?

Read on below to find the top skills you need in your customer service teams, according to our experts here at Sigma Connected!

What makes the perfect customer service representative?

At Sigma Connected, we’re passionate about top-class customer service – it’s a key part of what we offer to our clients and a core service that we’re constantly growing and developing in order to stay ahead of the curve.

In our time developing a service that both customers and clients love, we’ve learned a few key lessons when it comes to customer service skills. So here are the top skills that we think you’ll need in your customer service team if you want to offer the best customer experience possible:

1.    Communication skills

To start off, we’ll look at one of the most obvious skills that any customer service employee needs: communication skills.

Customer service representatives are often the first line of contact for any customer looking to learn more, make a purchase, or raise a query, so naturally, they’ll need to be very strong communicators.

But this doesn’t just mean that they need confidence – customer service employees need to be knowledgeable, personable, understanding and direct, giving customers the answers they need without causing any frustrations.

2.    Empathy

Your customers want to be treated with care, compassion and respect – they’re on the phone to discuss a situation, so it’s incredibly important to make them feel heard, understood, and validated as they’re communicated with.

By showing this level of empathy to customers, it becomes much easier to retain a healthy relationship with the customer, which keeps them on side and leaves the door open for further business in the future.

One bad purchase likely won’t force a customer to shop elsewhere, but a bad customer experience is a surefire way to turn a customer away forever.

3.    Listening

As you might expect, the ability to listen to and process information at rapid speed is a crucial attribute that you’ll want your customer service staff to have in their arsenal.

Carrying on from the topic of empathy, customers will be keen to know that the person on the end of the phone is listening intently ensuring they have all the information needed to resolve their situation.

However, simply taking in information isn’t always enough, particularly when it comes to difficult situations or disputes. Active listening is a key skill for any customer service representative, and helps make your customers feel truly heard and fully understood. Representatives should be able to take in the key issues raised by customers and quickly digest them, before addressing their problems and emotions directly, using that same information.

By listening carefully, making notes, and gathering all the key information in the first instance, you reduce the amount of repeated information, thus minimising friction and frustration for the customer.

4.    Problem-solving

One of the most common situations that any customer service representative will be faced with is customer complaints or queries, which means they need to be skilled when it comes to solving problems and reaching positive resolutions.

Problem-solving doesn’t always mean fixing an issue, however – it’s just as important for customer service representatives to be able to de-escalate situations and create an environment in which customers feel comfortable engaging with your business.

By creating this atmosphere, it makes it much easier to connect with the customer on a personal level and reach an outcome that works for both parties without the need for further action such as a negative review.

5.    Product knowledge

The next key skill that customer service team members should have is a working knowledge of the product or service that your business sells.

Many customers will get in touch to discuss technical issues with products or to ask specific questions about a service and if your team are unable to answer these questions, or locate the correct personnel to provide an accurate answer, this could leave the customer feeling frustrated and distrusting of your business.

Before your team puts on their headset or turns on their keyboards, it’s important to ensure that your customer service teams have a base-level understanding of the product and industry with a view to providing more in-depth education where needed.

6.    Negotiation

However, the skills of a customer service representative aren’t just people skills and technical knowledge – they’ll also need to understand how to approach situations that reach the best outcome for both the business and the customer.

In many scenarios, this will mean that team members need to be able to negotiate with customers to find a middle ground and ensure that the company, and the customer’s, best interests are met.

Negotiating from a customer service point of view can include things such as:

  • Persuading unhappy customers to stay with the company
  • Convincing customers to upgrade a subscription package
  • Regaining lost customers through customer win-back activity

7.    Patience

It goes without saying, but working in customer service requires a great deal of patience.

Dealing with a constant stream of customers can take a toll, but it’s important that your team understand how to remain professional and calm, taking the personal aspects out of the situation and focusing on the task at hand to ensure n that customer gets the best experience possible.

By employing customer service staff with the patience to take the time to find the best outcomes, even for problem customers, you’ll ensure that your customer retention and customer satisfaction rates remain incredibly high.

8.    Resilience

As an employee working in customer service, there will be times when customer interactions can take their toll – handling a range of different personalities every day can be a big challenge and if there are unhappy customers to connect with frequently, it can feel overwhelming and stressful.

For this reason, we think a key personality trait for anyone that’s working in customer service is resilience.

The ability to bounce back and treat each new customer as a fresh situation can be a very hard thing to do, but if your team is able to manage this, it’ll likely lead to more productive communications that result in positive customer outcomes.

To aid customer service teams in staying resilient, we’d always recommend ensuring that your team has ample time away from the phones and screens to unwind, relax, and refresh themselves, especially after difficult conversations with frustrated customers.

9.    Curiosity

The last customer service skill on our list is the ability to stay curious – working in customer service can be very fast-paced and there are new tools and techniques being introduced constantly, so a degree of intuition and a willingness to learn and develop is a key asset to have.

Curiosity also helps customer service representatives to achieve the best results for customers too, as it’ll help them to keep digging, uncover the reasons for any issues, and identify ways to fix problems permanently rather than brushing them under the carpet.

Find the best customer service teams at the right cost

Building a talented customer service team can be a daunting task – you need the right personnel and training, and it all needs to happen within your budget restrictions, which might not be achievable for every business.

But here at Sigma Connected, we think that every business deserves to be able to offer top-class customer service to their customers, even in situations where the financial resource may be slightly thinner.

When you’re working with our team at Sigma Connected, you’ll be able to harness the expertise and capacity of expert customer service solutions.

It’s an effective, low-cost way to increase customer service capacity without having to dedicate resources to recruitment and training, which reduces the internal capacity burden and allows you to focus on the things that matter most to your business.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about the power of customer service solutions – we offer bespoke solutions to suit businesses of all sizes, taking a personable approach to helping you find an approach that works for you.

To check out some of our top case studies, click here – we’ve helped lots of businesses across a number of industries and you could be next…


Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Get connected