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Poor customer service is a surefire way to turn away customers and lose business. Many companies put forth a lot of time and money to provide customer service training to their staff because they consider customer service a basic ingredient in the recipe for business success. To enhance your own customer service, start by understanding the main components of customer service skills.
Communication is vital to the customer service experience. It is impossible to provide good customer service and have poor communication skills at the same time. Effective communication skills, such as speaking clearly, making eye contact and listening, are important because customers know that they are being heard, and that their concerns are not going in one ear and out the other of the person they are speaking to.
The ability to build rapport with customers is a must-have skill for successful customer service. To build rapport is to empathize with customers: to share their concerns, understand what they are going through and develop a level of trust with one another. You can accomplish this by using phrases such as "I understand" and "I am deeply apologetic." Even if you are unable to give your customer what he wants, by establishing rapport he will feel a level of satisfaction with the experience. When you build rapport with your customers, they feel comfortable going to you for assistance. This is a sign of customer loyalty and is a delicate thing in the competitive business world.
Having a positive personality is an important customer service skill. Customers who are angry, frustrated and impatient will only be made more so if they speak to a customer service representative of equal disposition. On the other hand, a positive, helpful and energetic customer service representative can put even the crankiest customers in a better mood -- or at least prevent them from worsening. Patience and a calm tone help customers deal with their concerns in a way that is more comforting than if someone were to sound tense and rushed over the phone or in person.
Aside from personality and listening skills, good customer service requires people to have a high degree of product knowledge. It is not helpful to the customer with the complaints if the customer service representative does not know how to provide assistance over the phone. Poor product knowledge equals poor customer service skills, and can be bad for the public image of the company. Make sure your staff are trained on new products at all times.
The ability to problem solve is integral to demonstrating good customer service skills. Problem solving means coming up with creative solutions, which customers appreciate because it shows them that the customer service representative is doing what he can to resolve an issue. With some savvy problem-solving skills, customer service reps may be able to give the customer what he wants, in turn strengthening the bond of customer loyalty.
Kyra Sheahan has been a writer for various publications since 2008. Her work has been featured in "The Desert Leaf" and "Kentucky Doc Magazine," covering health and wellness, environmental conservatism and DIY crafts. Sheahan holds an M.B.A. with an emphasis in finance.