customer service
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It takes a special kind of person to work in a customer service job. If the person representing the face of a company does not possess certain traits and attributes in his or her personality, he or she will have a difficult time working in customer service.

Customer service jobs have significantly grown in opportunities and technology has played a strong role in this expansion. While it's true that tech does allow more consumer autonomy, it also simultaneously heightens the need for good customer service. Consumers need a point of contact to air their concerns, ask questions and make suggestions - these are not things that can be done with interaction on a website alone. Someone has to be working on the other end.

Having good technical and hands-on skills is important in customer service. However, perhaps even more important is possessing those often sought by employers "soft skills" too. Here are a few qualifications you'll need to have if you want to land a job in this field:

Demonstrate Strong Listening Skills

Having solid listening skills is probably the number one qualification necessary to be successful in a customer service-related job. Since service agents have a lot of interaction with other people, it is important they have attained the necessary skills to listen and then be able to effectively respond and address any given situation presented to them.

Have you ever encountered a customer service representative either on the phone or in person that spent more time surfing the web, glancing up at the television, chatted on a phone call ("Hold on a sec, a customer just walked in") or was talking to a coworker about what he or she did last weekend? If you are like most people, chances are you've run into this kind of representative at some point and it was frustrating because his or her full attention was not on addressing your needs.

Office distractions
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Agents that are too focused on non-work items, especially when customers are present, are likely not giving the best service they can offer.

These kinds of representatives don't possess good listening skills if they are always busy tending to personal issues or allowing their attention anywhere else but on the customer. Nodding a head and half-processing the information given as customers speak does not illustrate good listening skills. A skilled customer service rep knows to give a customer his or her undivided attention during the interaction.

Able to Show Patience

All service agents run into the less than ideal customer at some point in their careers. This can be a difficult and tricky situation, especially if the customer is out of control or has become very irate. And let's face it, sometimes people are just plain mean.

While it's frustrating and hard in these types of situations, it is important to keep up a level of professionalism and show patience. Not to mention to keep your cool. There are several techniques that can be used to diffuse a situation, but to do this sometimes requires a high level of tolerance; patience is definitely an important attribute when working in customer service.

And even when the customer is not displaying anger, sometimes a person may have difficultly conveying exactly what the issue is. Patience is vital in any given situation. 

Customer service agent
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It's sometimes hard to "read" a person when a transaction takes place over the phone or online. A good agent is able to show patience from identification of the problem to reaching a resolution.

Ability to Respond Positively

Customers are not always right nor are they always going to get what they want 100 percent of the time. While ideally every business wants to please every customer, sometimes this is not always possible. When these situations occur, it is important for service agents to be able to respond positively to a customer and actively work to downplay any negativity.

Not only does this mean it's important to use positive language, it also entails looking for alternate solutions to the patron's problem if he or she is not satisfied; the goal is to give the best customer satisfaction possible. Sometimes this takes a little bit of proactive and positive work to reach this objective.

Able to Maintain Unbiased Reactions

If a customer is right and someone in the business made a mistake it is important to immediately apologize and then address and fix the problem. Customer service representatives have to be savvy enough to see when something has gone wrong and then have the insight to be unbiased enough to look for an optimal solution if one isn't clear-cut.

While company loyalty is a trait businesses like their employees to have, the business is better off in the long run when representatives are not argumentative and are open to finding resolution to fix any given problem. Additionally, when a customer complains, it is important to not take the complaint personally and stay unbiased when seeking a solution.

Service Needs Span All Industries

In today's commercial and non-commercial environments, most jobs today entail a level of customer service. Long gone are the days where certain groups of employees were positioned in separate areas never to interact with the public. Due to the rapid technology progress that has occurred in recent decades, the dynamics have changed. Additionally, reps are not just interacting with consumers, but other types of customers too.

Local economies have gone global and today's businesses are interconnected by technology. Customer service also takes place within singular companies because those who work in IT departments quickly see their customers are not only external consumers, but internal colleagues as well.

Essentially, the help desk that many organizations have today is considered to be a form of customer service. This goes to show that this field has significantly expanded and crossed boundaries. Customer service jobs are prevalent in all industries and there are many more opportunities to show off good people skills.

There are many necessary qualifications needed for customer service jobs and listening, patience, positive responses and unbiased judgment are a few of the top ones needed. It's not always an easy job, but those people who have the right attributes typically succeed working with public interaction.

Related Reading:

4 Careers for the INFP Personality Type, by Kirby Brister

Understanding People: Personality Types Explained, by Lyra Kua