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Customer Service Skills and How to Find Candidates with Them

Having employees with great customer service skills is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. When a company is able to cultivate a good relationship with their clients, they have the ability to gain a good reputation within the community, which can result in more sales. Hiring highly skilled customer service representatives can translate into a successful business, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. This article highlights some of the key aspects of customer service and discusses how to find the best candidates for the job. We will look at:

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What are customer service skills?

Customer service skills are the ability to provide support to both new and existing clients. Customer service representatives are responsible for answering all customer questions via phone, email, in person, and/or social media. They also might be involved in creating documents for self-service support. An example of this would be the Frequently Asked Questions section of a company website.

Why is having great customer service so important?

Providing great customer service is vital for the survival of any business. The following are a few ways in which customer service skills can help your business thrive:

  • Keeping current clients: Customer loyalty ensures a regular revenue stream for businesses. When clients are keen to continue using your company or buying your products, you’re able to bank on them as a reliable source of income.
  • Gaining new clients: By having staff with great customer service skills, new clients are more likely to want to spend their money on your business. Nobody wants to give money to someone who is rude, so by being known for great customer service, you can gain new clients.
  • Referrals and reviews: Current clients are often the best and cheapest way to generate new customers. Word of mouth is a wonderful marketing tool, hence the importance of social media marketing today. In just a few clicks, clients can share their great experience with your company or leave a five-star review.
  • Decreasing churn: Churn is a term referring to the number of customers that leave a business after one purchase. If a client has a bad experience with your company, they’re less likely to return and may take their business to a competitor.

20 key customer service skills

    • Patience: Customer service representatives should always make the client feel like their number one priority. If a client talks a lot, for example, then a customer service employee should demonstrate an ability to listen. This can make a big difference to how the customer feels after the encounter.
    • Attentiveness: Maintaining eye contact and minimizing distractions allows the client to feel like the priority, which is a key element in providing great customer service.

Emotional intelligence: The ability to relate to any client can help a customer service representative create a bond with the client. This makes communication easier, which is vital for effective customer service.

    • Ability to communicate clearly: When communicating with a client, it’s important to be clear so there’s no confusion or misunderstanding between the client and the company. This will decrease the possibility of the client needing more help or making a complaint.
    • Problem-solving skills: These are important customer service skills as it may not always be clear how to solve a client’s problem. By being able to think outside of the box, it’s more likely a customer service representative will be able to solve the problem.
    • A methodical approach: When dealing with clients, it can be helpful to have an established protocol so that each client is treated equally. This may include keeping records on all interactions between your customer service and the client, making it easier to ensure that issues are resolved satisfactorily.
    • Creativity and resourcefulness: By using their creativity and resourcefulness, a customer service representative can go above and beyond to keep the client happy. Having a rep that can go the extra mile with a client can take your customer service from good to great.
    • Use of positive language: A customer service employee should be able to turn any situation into a positive one by using language that reflects an upbeat attitude. This can ensure the client leaves the interaction feeling positive about the company and the customer service they received.
    • Product/service knowledge: It’s essential for every customer service employee to have an in-depth knowledge of the products or services provided by your company. They should be experts so the client can trust what they say.
    • Time management skills: These are important when customer service employees are expected to deal with multiple clients at a time. For example, if a client phones in, your customer service rep should give this priority over an email. Knowing how to manage their time is an essential customer service skill to have.
    • Ability to read customers: Being able to understand how a customer is feeling can go a long way towards creating great customer service. If a client’s tone indicates that they’re upset, a customer service representative should use this knowledge to approach the customer appropriately.
    • Stay calm under pressure: This can be an important customer service skill as a client might come to the company with a complaint. If the customer displays anger towards the company, it’s vital for a customer service employee to stay calm. Without a calm demeanour, the issue might escalate, and the customer might be lost to a competitor.
    • Persuasion skills: These are particularly important if a customer is looking to buy a product or receive a service from you but is trying to get more information before they spend their money. Having the ability to persuade a customer to use your company can be vital when trying to stay ahead of the competition.
    • Goal-oriented: By creating goals for your customer service team, you can monitor how well your team is doing, find areas that might need improvement, and motivate the customer service representatives to work harder at maintaining client satisfaction.
    • Ability to handle surprises: You never know what a customer might say or do, so the ability to go with the flow is essential in providing great customer service. Customer service representatives should be able to talk with clients in a relaxed manner, and if the client says something unexpected, it’s important for the customer service employee to have a neutral reaction.
    • Tenacity: Having a great work ethic and a willingness to do what’s needed is a great customer service skill. Being thorough in their work can ensure the customer gets the best service, which makes the company look good.
    • Closing ability: This refers to the ability to finish an interaction with a client and leave them feeling satisfied. It’s important for the customer service team to end the interaction on a positive note so the client knows that their needs have been (or will be) taken care of.
    • Empathy: Being able to relate to the client is one of the most important qualities a customer service representative should have. When they can empathize with a customer, they create a bond between the client and company. Once a bond is created, it’s more likely the client will return for repeat business.
    • Writing skills: This can be especially important when dealing with clients via email or social media platforms. The better writing skills the customer service employee has, the more successful they’ll be at answering a client’s questions, persuading them to buy a product, or helping the client with a problem.
    • Willingness to learn: This skill is an important quality for all employees to have, but especially so for people working in customer service. Interactions between customer service and clients may not always go well, and it’s important that a customer service employee can learn from their mistakes. Doing so also makes sure that the employee can improve their customer service skills in general, which in turn increases the provision of great customer service.

What to put in a job description that asks for these skills

The best way to start a job description for a customer service representative is by clearly defining what your company sees as great customer service. This allows potential applicants to know the general expectations of the customer service team within your company. For example: At Wavewood Etc., we strive to make every customer feel special. We are looking for someone with great customer service skills that enjoys interacting with clients on a daily basis and has an art sales background.
Not only does the above example explain the aim of the company when interacting with clients, but it also indicates what type of background the applicant would need. This would quickly eliminate candidates without an art sales background, making the pool of applicants smaller. Another useful way to find great customer service representatives is to include a list of characteristics that incorporate the skills needed for the job. Some examples that would work for the 20 key customer service skills listed above are:

      • Genuine excitement about helping others.
      • Great communication skills, both written and spoken.
      • Ability to handle customer complaints with ease, providing solutions in a timely manner to ensure customer satisfaction.
      • Complete understanding of product/services offered.
      • Ability to create professional relationships with clients in order to provide appropriate recommendations.
      • Keeping a thorough record of all interactions with clients.
      • Generating sales leads.
      • Going the extra mile to engage customers.
      • Proven ability to multitask and manage time effectively.
      • Ability to interact with and adapt to all personality types.

With the above examples, you can create a job description that attracts quality candidates with the appropriate customer service skills needed.

What interview questions to ask about these skills

When preparing interview questions for a customer service position, it’s important to think through the different skills you’re looking for in a candidate. By asking specific questions, you can ensure applicants have the customer service skills required. A good way to start off an interview for a customer service representative position is to get an idea of what the applicant thinks about customer service. This will give you an idea of what their expectations would be coming into the role as well as some idea of what they think good customer service looks like. Examples of questions that can be asked are:

      • How would you define good customer service?
      • What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received? Why?
      • What’s the worst customer service you’ve ever received? Why?

It’s also important to gauge how the candidate might interact with customers and if they’re willing to learn. In order to provide great customer service, the candidate must be able to relate to anyone and, if something goes wrong, be willing to change their approach. These are a few examples of questions you can ask:

      • Have you ever dealt with an unreasonable customer? How did you handle it? Would you handle it differently today?
      • Have you ever received negative feedback from a customer? How did you handle it?

It’s vital for a customer service representative to be able to think on their feet to provide great customer service. You never know what a customer might say, so a customer service representative needs to be a great problem solver. Questions that can establish an applicant’s ability to solve problems include:

      • Have you ever had a customer report an issue that you didn’t have the answer to? How did you deal with the situation?
      • How would you deal with a client who was complaining about a co-worker?

If your products or services are highly specialized, there’s no point in hiring a customer service employee that doesn’t understand them. The following questions can help you see how much a candidate knows about your area of business:

      • What do you know about [our company/service/product]?
      • How would you describe [our company/service/product] to someone else?
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