The Customer Service Skills needed for Customer Service Excellence!

Top 3 Skills

I certainly hope you want your company to provide customer service that is nothing short of excellent!  To achieve this, you and your employees should master a number of customer service skills.

Without these essential skills, once you have found a customer and worked hard to get them buying your product or service, you can end up with some embarrassing situations where you either:

a) lose the client; or

b) lose the clients trust, whilst keeping (a limited amount of) their business.

In this article, I will cover the 3 top customer service skills you must have down pat to provide customer service excellence.

Normally when business people talk about customer service, they often talk about being a ‘people person’. Now, being or striving towards being a ‘people person’ is not a bad thing – BUT it is so non-descript that it really doesn't give anyone anything they can use to go forth and provide amazing service.

 So, if it isn't really about being a ‘people person’, what are the specific skills someone would need to be a business owner who can absolutely nail customer service?

1. Patience

Firstly, what is patience?  Well it's usually defined as ‘the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.’

Patience is one of the most important aspects of service to your patrons.  Often when customers reach out for support, it isn’t to tell you how fantastic their product is and how it’s so easy to use without hassle; on the contrary, they are often angry, frustrated, confused or otherwise not in a fantastic mood.  Being patient means accepting people as they are, and letting them have an experience of talking to someone who has time for them.  Remember, although a few customers may be begrudged people who are set in their angry, little ways, most customers are expressing anger or confusion towards the product or service that your business offers.  So, remember:

a) They are presenting negative attitudes towards a service/product that is sold BY your business, so it appears like it’s aimed towards you.

b) Their negative attitude that is being aimed at the business is usually then further skewed towards you – the person answering the phone, responding to the email or waiting at the front desk.

 Therefore, take it with a grain of salt – they don’t really have a problem with you, or the business you work for or own, it is often at themselves or with the product or service they are having difficulty with.  That’s 95% of the time – some customers will genuinely be angry at you.  (When that happens, just grin and bear it and don’t take it personally!)

2. Attentiveness

This means really listening to the customer who is in front of you or on the receiving end of the email you are about to send.  It may mean re-reading an email from that customer or spending an extra few minutes on the phone to really understand what their issue or problem is, and working out how you can best help them to overcome their issue or work towards a solution together.

It is also important to listen and remember all feedback that you receive.  If you are hearing the same feedback over and over again from different customers, this may be a sign that you need to look at your business processes and resolve the root problem that’s causing the issue.

3. Clear Communication Skills

Clear communication is something that some people do without thinking, whilst other people need practice to hone this skill.  When you are communicating to a customer about a simple query or a mighty predicament, it's important that you don't provide lots of extra information about things that aren't really relevant (such as your family situation or your last holiday adventure, etc.).  Chit-chat has a time and a place, and when a customer is time-poor and trying to get something fixed yesterday … don’t ask them if they went to last night’s game ;).  Although, as an aside, I do very much hope your team won!

Clear communication also relates to the way you ‘paint a picture’ of a situation or solution.  It's important to start at the beginning and being provided with enough background content for each conversation, instead of starting your solution half way through (which is surprisingly common).  Just imagine if you were a customer, and the business representative you were talking to had no background on the subject you are discussing!  If you start from the start when talking to customers – and you are covering information they already know – it’s easy to skip ahead.  However, trying to fill in an information gap is miles harder!

Business owners should be encouraged to sit down and brainstorm, innovate, create, design and implement new ideas on customer service in your business and what that actually means for everybody on the front line.  If everybody in your business can align themselves towards the common goal of delivering exceptional customer service, you will see increased customer satisfaction, on-the-street advertising and overall get some great results.