5 Customer Service Skills That Make A Real Difference To Customers

Focus on these customer service skills if you want to improve customer experience.

Great customer experience is key to improving retention, and great customer retention directly impacts your bottom line. Whether you are a customer service agent yourself or the leader of a company, these five customer service skills will help you improve professionally while having a direct impact on the success of your business.

1. Active Listening

Whether the customer is technically right or wrong, the truth is that when they do decide to complain they expect to be heard. Though your customer service agents may have heard the same complaint 10 times today alone, the experience is very personal to the individual customer. They are not looking for a canned response that does not specifically answer their questions or concerns.

How many times have you talked with an agent with a question or complaint and received a very long-winded, rehearsed response that had little or nothing to do with your particular problem? I would be willing to bet this has happened to all of us at least a couple times in our lives.

Active listening isn’t just a customer service skill, it’s a skill for life! Anyone interested in becoming a better leader, professional, spouse, parent, partner and friend must focus on developing active listening skills. Active listening means that you are listening to what the other person is saying—as well as understanding the underlying message beyond their words—rather than focusing on what your response to them will be. Active listeners benefit by developing better relationships and influence within their networks.

2. Patience & Tenacity

Whether you are a customer service agent yourself or the leader of a company, these five customer service skills will help you improve professionally while having a direct impact to the success of your business.“Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.”

~ Thomas Huxley

As previously mentioned, frontline employees often have to deal with the same issue or issues over and over and over and over again. Day in and day out. They also have to deal with the whole spectrum of different personality types, from the pleasant and forgiving to the totally fired-up yell-it-out type. This can wear on a person’s motivation and engagement. The person on your team who can take that with a positive mindset and a commitment to your customers is likely worth much more than the typical customer service agent is paid.

Patience and tenacity are incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to train someone on. People have to either be born with it or commit to developing it on their own. You can put customer service programs and processes into place to help guide your customer service agents on what to do in varying situations, but that will only get your overall customer experience so far.

When an employee is tenacious in their effort to find the right solution for the customer, you better believe they will notice the difference beyond a pre-set customer solution process.

3. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence includes a person’s ability to recognize and manage their own emotions, as well as empathize with others and manage those relationships. Emotional intelligence is closely tied with patience, but it takes it a couple steps further in that a person with a high EQ can manage their emotions when they recognize they are starting to lose their patience.

The big one, when it comes to customer service, is empathy. When your customer service employees are able to easily put themselves in your customers’ shoes and understand what they are feeling and thinking, it goes a long way in creating mutually beneficial solutions, improving the customer experience, and nurturing the customer relationship with your brand.

4. Proactivity

Perhaps the best customer service skill any professional can have is the ability to proactively anticipate customer issues and come up with solutions before the customer even realizes they have a problem.

Career expert, Chrissy Scivicque, defines 5 P’s of being proactive in work and in life. They are:

  1. Predict
  2. Prevent
  3. Plan
  4. Participate
  5. Perform

If you are aiming to improve your customer experiences, proactive problem solving is going to make a huge difference for you. How often do you get a call or an email from a company that says, “Oops, we messed up!” Almost never. But what a difference it makes when it does happen.

I started using an online transcription service called Rev.com about a year or so ago. I don’t have to do many transcriptions, so I have probably sent about four or five orders through them over the past year. It is super easy to use, perhaps a little more expensive than some other services out there but not significantly so, and they really do a great job as far as quality is concerned.

customer_service_skills_proactiveOne day, I placed an order that included 4 quite long audio files, probably totaling somewhere in the range of 2 to 3 hours work of audio. I just uploaded the files and went about my busy day, not putting any additional thought to it. The next day, I received an email from Rev.com telling me that they were experiencing delays. OK, no big deal, I thought. I really hadn’t thought about the order yet, as I was busy working on other things.

Minutes later, I received another email from Rev.com telling me that they were refunding part of the project cost due to the delay. Now that is what I call being proactive. I had not even gotten to the point of thinking about the project or how long it had been since I placed the order, but there they were, 2 quick and simple emails notifying me that they were aware there was an issue and that they were going to do something for me because of it.

Half of my order was done just a couple hours after receiving those emails and the other half took another day to complete but was I upset about it? Absolutely not. I was delighted by the proactive communication and I use them anytime I need a transcript done because I know the company does great work and that they work with integrity.

Are you always going to be able to provide a solution that makes the customer completely happy? No, probably not. But being proactive and getting in front of the issue as often as possible will help create a relationship between you and your customers that show that you appreciate their business and you care about their experience.

5. Business Acumen

is an important customer service skill in a similar way that proactivity is. When your business acumen is strong, you are able to plug into insights and understand the trends that are relevant to your customers and potential customers. Business acumen helps you define how your company and your product or service offering fits into the larger business environment. It helps you become more proactive, not just with customer service problems, but also with market trends and future customer needs.

January is Customer Service and Communication Month at Crestcom.
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