We all know customer service can make or break a business. But what is good customer service? And what are the customer service skills required to delight your customers and leave them wanting more?
What are customer service skills?
Customer service skills are a set of abilities and traits that help businesses and employees interact with customers in a helpful, efficient and satisfying way.
And what does it have to do with you? Well, that depends. Do you want to run a successful business?
As it turns out, customer service skills are essential for a lot of reasons, such as:
- Building a strong relationship with customers
- Maintaining a positive brand reputation
- Improving customer retention
- Encouraging customers to recommend your business, increasing sales
- Helping your business stand out from the competition
There are several customer service skills that we consider essential for your business’s success. Keep on reading to learn what skills you should be focusing on to ensure customer satisfaction.
One of the most crucial customer service skills is active listening. This involves paying super close attention to what your customer is saying and asking clarifying questions to ensure that you fully understand their needs and concerns.
Active listening also helps you empathize with the customer and demonstrate that you care about what they’re saying. When you listen attentively and show empathy, you’re better positioned to build trust with your customer and provide a more personalized customer service experience.
Effective communication is of paramount importance when it comes to providing great customer service. This includes both verbal and written communication, as well as nonverbal cues such as tone of voice and body language.
Good communication skills are all about being clear, concise and professional in your customer interactions. You also need to be able to adapt your communication style to different types of customers and situations, such as dealing with a frustrated customer or communicating complex information.
Customers will often come to your business with problems or concerns, and effective customer service means being able to sort out these problems quickly and efficiently. This requires strong problem-solving skills, including the ability to identify what’s actually causing the issue, develop a solution and then implement it effectively.
Problem-solving skills also involve being proactive and anticipating potential issues before they arise. When your customer service representatives take a proactive approach to problem-solving, you have a higher chance of avoiding customer complaints and providing a more seamless customer service experience.
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Patience needs to be at the top of your team’s customer service skills. Being patient means remaining calm and composed in challenging situations, especially when dealing with frustrated or angry customers.
By maintaining a patient and professional demeanor, your customer service reps will have a much better shot at defusing tense situations and providing a more positive customer service experience.
If you’ve been in the ecommerce industry for a minute, you know that customers don’t like to wait, especially now that there are so many different channels they can use to contact businesses. Want to improve customer satisfaction? Then you need to be on top of every single channel.
Effective time management equals being able to prioritize tasks, manage your workload effectively and respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner. By doing so, you can provide a more streamlined customer service experience and ensure that customers receive prompt and responsive support.
Business and product knowledge
Customer complaints aren’t all that you get, even though sometimes it may feel like it. Inquiries often consist of questions about your products or services, shipping, and so on. To provide really good customer service, product knowledge needs to be in your team’s customer service skills deck.
You need to ensure your employees have a thorough understanding of the products and services you offer, from features and benefits to potential issues or limitations. They also need a fair knowledge of the company’s operations so as to answer simple inquiries or redirect customers to the relevant departments.
By having a strong understanding of your business operations and products, employees can provide more detailed and helpful support to customers, answer questions more effectively and troubleshoot issues more efficiently.
These aren’t the only customer service skills your team can develop, but this list is a good place to start. If you’re dead serious about providing an exceptional customer experience, you should definitely invest in developing these skills within your company and place them at the forefront of your customer service strategy.
Oh, and what do you get out of it? The possibility of building a loyal customer base and maintaining a positive reputation in your niche.
🤝🏾 Want more loyal customers? Our partners Lily and Stamped can help you create loyalty programs and manage customer reviews.
How to offer exceptional customer service
Providing excellent customer service is a necessity for any business to thrive. It’s not only about making your customers happy; it’s also about building a loyal customer base that keeps coming back.
Here are several strategies that your business can implement to improve customer service.
Listen to your customers
If you want to improve customer service, the very first step is to listen to your customers. You can do this by conducting customer surveys, sending out feedback forms or simply asking your customers for feedback directly.
Listening to your customers can give you valuable insights into what they like and dislike about your products or services, and what improvements they would like to see. They’re also the perfect people to tell you whether you’re offering good customer service. You can ask them to rate their experience and use their feedback to implement any necessary changes.
It’s important to take customer feedback seriously and act on it. We can’t stress this enough. Not only does it help you identify areas of your business that need improvement, but it also shows your customers that you value their opinions and are willing to improve their experience.
Train your customer service professionals
Your customer service professionals are the face of your business and, for obvious reasons, play a critical role in providing excellent customer service. You need to invest in training and development.
Make sure that each customer service representative has the opportunity to learn and develop the customer service skills we mentioned in this article, plus any other you consider important for your business. You can simulate possible scenarios, have them shadow more experienced employees and provide feedback on their performance.
Providing training on customer service skills, product knowledge and communication skills can.
You can also encourage your customer service team to take ownership of customer issues and empower them to make decisions independently. By providing your employees with the tools and resources they need to succeed, they’ll be much better equipped to deliver exceptional customer service.
Use technology to your advantage
Technology can definitely help your business provide good customer service. How? By streamlining processes and providing more efficient ways to communicate with customers.
For example, using customer relationship management (CRM) software allows your business to manage customer data, track customer interactions and provide a more personalized experience.
Using chatbots or virtual assistants can also help businesses offer faster and more efficient customer service, especially for simple inquiries or issues. Shoplazza merchants, for instance, can install JivoChat to manage customer interactions as well as use chatbots and live chat in their strategy.
Remember: It’s super important to strike a balance between technology and human interaction. Customers still value speaking to a customer service agent and want to feel heard and understood by a real person, especially when they feel frustrated.
Personalize your customer service
Using the last section as a segue for the next item in our list of customer service tips, personalization is key to providing excellent customer service. Customers want to feel they are more than just a number, and personalizing their experience can help them feel valued and appreciated.
Personalization can go from addressing customers by name and recommending products or services based on their past purchases to offering promotions tailored to their stage in the customer journey. Using customer data and insights can help your business create a more personalized experience for your customers.
Being proactive in your customer service approach can help businesses identify and resolve issues before they become bigger problems. This can include monitoring customer feedback and social media channels for any negative comments or reviews, or reaching out to customers to ask for feedback or suggestions.
Proactivity also means anticipating customer needs and providing solutions before they even have to ask. For example, offering free shipping or a discount on a customer’s next purchase can show them that you value them and appreciate their loyalty.
🤑 Have you thought about running a limited-time offer to boost sales?
Be honest and transparent
Honesty and transparency are vital when it comes to building trust with your customers. If something goes wrong, be upfront about it and provide a solution. Don’t try to hide or cover up mistakes, as this can damage your relationship with customers.
Being transparent about your policies, pricing and other important information can also help earn your customers’ trust. Customers appreciate transparency and honesty, and it can lead to a more positive customer experience overall.
Follow up with your customers
Following up with your customers after a purchase or interaction shows that you value their business and are committed to their satisfaction. This action can be as simple as sending a thank-you email or survey to ask for feedback.
Following up also provides an opportunity to address any issues or concerns that the customer may have had. This can help prevent negative reviews or comments and can also build customer loyalty.
Foster a positive company culture
A positive company culture can have a significant impact on the customer service experience.
Happy and engaged team members are more likely to provide excellent customer service, while employees who feel undervalued or underappreciated may not be as invested in doing the best job they can.
To foster a positive company culture, it’s important to build an inclusive and supportive workplace where employees feel valued and respected. Creating opportunities for professional development and growth can also help your customer service representatives feel engaged and invested in their work.
💡 Pro tip: Do not, under any circumstances, force your customer service team to put up with disrespectful behavior or abuse. A good practice within the customer service industry is to instruct agents to disengage when a customer crosses the line. Your staff is one of your most precious assets, and one abusive customer—who’s likely to rate your company negatively anyway—isn’t worth losing your team’s respect and loyalty.
Make it easy-peasy for customers to contact you
Customers want to be able to reach businesses easily when they have a question or concern. Provide multiple channels for customers to contact you, from the good ol’ phone to live chat and a contact form on your website, so that customers can find you when they need to.
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: It’s super important to respond to customer inquiries and issues promptly. No one wants to wait days for an answer, so providing a timely response can help improve the customer experience.
Last but not least, chill
No matter how much blood, sweat and tears you put into developing good customer service skills, there’s always going to be someone who isn’t a hundred percent happy. And that’s ok.
While it might seem that one bad customer service experience can ruin your entire reputation, that’s not what usually happens. You can always try to reverse the situation by offering the dissatisfied customer some sort of compensation for the poor customer service, and if that doesn’t work… Well, you just accept it and move on.
In the meantime, you keep focused on offering great customer service to every single person who reaches out to your brand, whether they’re potential customers, repeat customers or your biggest haters.
Customer service skills, in a nutshell
High-quality customer service is essential for any business that wants to succeed. By training your support team members to develop and apply customer service skills, you can delight customers with a customer service experience that exceeds their expectations and win over their hearts.
There are several ways you can improve customer service in your company, from using tools like chatbots to training every single customer service representative. However, you don’t have to implement all necessary changes at once if you don’t have the resources to do so.
Remember that providing great customer service is an ongoing process, and your business should always be on the lookout for ways to improve and innovate your way of dealing with customers. By doing so, you can differentiate your business from your competitors and build a reputation for providing exceptional customer service.