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Customer service - what does it take?

Customer service – key for every business, the face of service, and brunt of customer woes. Without customer service, where would a business be? Low in Google review rankings? Further down a search engine? Or out of business completely?

The importance customer service teams have in any company should never be underestimated. It takes a certain amount of skill to deliver an impeccable level of service for any business, that’s why when recruiting for customer service roles within a company, there are a number of key skills candidates should have. These include:

Empathy

Building a connection with any customer that you interact with is important. Even if you can’t help the customer, or solve their problem, it’s a real skill to listen and understand customers’ wants and needs.

Adaptability

Being able to adapt quickly to a situation is a must. For example, if a customer is angry at first, you must be able to talk them down in a calm, collected tone. You would then be able talk to them at your ‘normal’ level again. Therefore, anyone working in the field needs to be able to adapt responses to suit a customer’s mood.

Good communication skills

Everything about being in the customer service sector is based around communication skills. More often than not, this requires verbal communication skills, but, as technology winds its way into customer service, virtual chat facilities and social media customer service has become prominent – so written skills are important too.

Self-control

‘The customer is always right’ – for some people this can be a difficulty, putting their own opinions to the side and believing that the customer is always right can be challenging. When a customer is screaming at you, natural instinct could lead you to scream back at them, but an experienced customer service operative will know where and when to restrain themselves.

At no point should anyone working with customers be subjected to any abusive or violent language or behaviour, but self-control at this point is also important. You can’t retaliate when it comes to bad behaviour, a good customer service assistant would simply remove themselves from the situation and tell the offending customer they can no longer help them.

Good listening skills

Every customer wants to be listened to, sometimes it may be a topic that takes the interest of the customer service agent, sometimes it may not. Either way, to be able to demonstrate interest is paramount. Something as simple as a nod of the head can show you are listening and that your concentration is held.

Thick skin

Customer service can be a big challenge when customers are angry. When we are angry we often say things we don’t mean, and take our anger out on the person we are communicating with. Unfortunately, dealing with other people’s moods and frustrations can mean that customer service representatives often get insults thrown their way. It’s so important that candidates hired in the sector are able to take a step back and realise the customer isn’t angry with them, but the service they have had elsewhere in a business.

It’s hard not to take things to heart, but if candidates don’t have a thick skin they could be at risk of taking any comments as an insult.

Willingness to develop

This isn’t a skill exhaustive to the world of customer service. Career development and a willingness to learn keeps you engaged, on top of your game, and performing at your best.

To forge a successful career path in customer service, personal development is a must  technological developments in the industry are ever changing, and there is an ongoing increase in the number of training courses to help keep up with customer demand.

Helpful/knowledgeable

The most important skill for any professional in the customer service arena is to be helpful and knowledgeable. Whether a professional is a fount of knowledge for the company – knowing the ins and outs of the product or service offered – or they are still learning, they must look to apply the knowledge they have in a helpful way As long as they respond to the customer well, and do their utmost to find out the answer, then the customer will be satisfied.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the skills needed to succeed in customer service, but instead a list of the core skills needed to shine.

In my experience of recruiting for Reed Business Support, you come to recognise the traits of a ‘good’ customer service representative.

Customer service roles are vital for business from a public relations perspective. Therefore, if you find an outstanding representative, my advice to any business would be try to retain that talent – whether this be through increasing salary, offering additional benefits or investing in training.

It takes a very special person to be good at customer service, and I think sometimes businesses really underestimate the value of these team members.

If you are looking to recruit for a customer service position in your team. Contact your local Reed Business Support branch.

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