What’s the best customer service? That’s a hard question to answer—one that many business owners and managers struggle with daily. The best service often depends on the industry you serve. Customers in different industries have different service expectations. What customer service skills work in one industry doesn’t always work in another.
But some customer service skills are universal. They cut across every industry and every business sector. They’re skills that every employee needs to excel at his or her job. They’re skills that usually come into play when working directly with customers. And they’re skills that truly matter to customers.
Below are seven universal customer skills that matter to all customers. Helping your customer service people develop them can help you cultivate better relations with customers (and prospects), boosting customer loyalty and driving profitability:
- Listen to customers closely — This skill is critical for “wowing” customers with epic customer service. It’s the number one customer service skill period. Train your employees to listen closely to what customers say and how they say it. Sometimes, customers can’t articulate the real issue. Being attentive to what and how they say things can help you determine a customer’s real issue. Everyone likes to talk to someone who listens.
- Patience with customers — People that companies are often frustrated and confused. That’s where patience comes in. Employees people need to have the patience to help customers with all their issues calmly and helpfully, whether these employees are customer service people or not. Great service beats fast service every time.
- Communicate. Communicate. — Communication skills are paramount when you’re providing customer service. They’re the “secret sauce” to customer relations. But you need to be careful about how a person’s communication skills translate into everyday language. Train your employees to err on the side of caution whenever they have a questionable situation.
- In-depth product/service knowledge — The best customer service people know they’re product or service inside out. Product/service knowledge can be why customers contact companies when they have issues. If your employees don’t have this knowledge, it can undermine a customer’s trust and confidence in the company. So, make sure your people undergo extensive product/service training.
- Knows how to use positive language — Language is a critical part of persuasion. People create impressions through the words they use. Small changes in a person’s language, like using more positive words, can make a difference. They can make an impact by affecting the way customers “hear” what you say. Train customer service people to use positive language.
- Able to “read” customers — In the old days, customers called when they had an issue. These days they email you or talk with you through chat. Whatever way your customers contact you, you need top-flight people that can “read” customers. It’s a critical part of the personalization process. This skill is essential because the last thing you want is an employee that “misunderstands” customers, upsetting them.
- Keeps his or her cool under pressure — smart employees stay calm when things get hectic and confusion reigns. People like this can often influence other people during a crisis. The best customer service reps, for example, know they can’t let customers get to them, or heated customers force them to lose their cool. Instead, they need to be the eye of the storm when customers are angry.
Every employee should have the seven skills described above. They’re universal customer service skills that can help your reps build rapport and confidence in customers that contact you—whether in person or otherwise. These skills cut across every industry and business sector. They can help your agents deliver the best customer service, boosting customer loyalty and driving profitability. That’s because they’re skills that truly matter to customers.