Customer Service Skills for Every Employee

“Customer service must be a philosophy in which all employees feel and act accountable for creating satisfied customers.” – Tom Reilly training

It is natural for people to respond positively to friendly, kind, and welcoming situations and people. In the context of business, customers are more open and amenable to a company that exhibits these positive traits across the organisation. We know that among the top reasons for customers to leave a company, poor customer service – at any touch-point – is possibly the most prominent. This just means that every employee in an organisation must have customer service skills and the company must pay close attention to enhancing these skills regularly. It is imperative that everyone in the company has exemplary interpersonal and communication abilities, as these are essential to effective interactions with customers. A company could have the best products and or services and price them competitively, but if it lacks overall in customer service skills, none of the other factors would matter.

It is now a demand that every company exhibit customer service skills in order to nurture and maintain long-term and profitable relationships with customers. With such a sharp rise in competition, it would be detrimental for companies to ignore customer demands – cultivating top class customer service skills are now becoming an imperative part of the overall business strategy. Without regularly enhanced customer service skills for every employee, it would be hard for a company to create positive experiences for customers on a sustained basis. When a customer connects with a company, she or he is normally unaware of who they have been connected to – for a customer anyone and everyone in the company must and should be able to help and do so in an effective, polite, and courteous manner. Even one negative interaction, could dent the reputation of the company, and the perception would be that it lacks basic customer service skills. No customer would want to continue doing business with a company that comes across as rude and inconsiderate.

Every employee must be equipped with basic customer service skills and must know how and when to use them. The fact is that customers know that perfection is not possible. They would be willing to overlook many faults if the company consistently exhibited top class customer service skills. In the business environment, there are certain skills that do not belong only in the customer service teams – every employee must possess and exhibit these and it is the onus of the company to create a culture in which customer service skills are as importance as any other job related skills.

Among the top of these service skills, is the ability and willingness to listen actively. You cannot hope to help customers or sort out their issues, if you are not truly listening. Listening goes beyond words and encompasses non-verbal cues as well. An irate customer may not immediately sound so – however, if the company pays close attention, it is possible to ‘hear’ the body language and gauge from the tone of voice. Rapt attention would enable the person listening to the customer, to repeat accurately their understanding of what the customer conveyed. The ability to listen is one of the highly effective and useful customer service skills – when a customer perceives that the company has understood their problem, they tend to calm down. It would be easier to provide solutions and convince a calm customer rather than an angry one. As one of the top customer service skills for every employee, it must be consistently polished and enhanced in order to build awareness and would be useful in all interactions – not just with customers.

The ability to listen is incomplete without the ability to communicate articulately, verbally and in writing. Customers can easily perceive rote answers and solutions and as such, these only serve to irritate customers even more. Every employee must know how and what to convey when speaking with customers such that they can be sure to get the right message across. It would be important to understand words and phrases that customers could consider offensive / rude / inappropriate – which could then ignite an even bigger issue. Employees must know how to measure their words and speak only as much as would convey empathy and the willingness to help the customer.

Being empathetic is another one of the extremely important customer service skills. You could have the best communication and listening skills, but if cannot empathise and feel the ‘pain’ of the customer, you would be unable to gain their trust. It is extremely vital that employees are able to sense and understand the emotional reasons for which the customer may be upset or angry. Even the most irate customers would be won over if they feel that the person representing the company truly understands their problem and would do everything possible to help alleviate their issue.

There is no aspect of life today that technology does not touch. For businesses too, it is critical that their technology is updated and that every employee is aware of how to use it. As one of the basic customer service skills, being able to effectively use computer programs and search for information, is highly essential for all. Imagine a situation where a customer connects and poses a simple question that can be answered by looking up the company’s information sites. However, the employee is unable to help the customer since she or he has no idea how to find the answers from the information. What impression would that give the customer?

The ability to remain calm is one of the essential customer service skills, but it is not always easy to do. The fact is that when angry customers call, they are not interested to know who is on the other side of the line. All they want to do is vent and release their pent up annoyance. Such misdirected temper could frazzle anyone – however, employees must understand the importance and value of staying calm even in such situations. Arguing or shouting back at the customer could only lead to an even more stressful situation, leading the customer to lodge a full-fledged complaint. Rather, it would be beneficial to employees to learn the art of composure and know how to defuse such situations – this would be highly appreciated by customers and co-workers.

Whatever the situation and whoever the customer, one of the most important of customer service skills is respect. Being respectful and courteous irrespective of external circumstances is a key skill that every employee must cultivate. This must begin with the culture of the company and the leaders of the company must display this at all times. Under no situation should disrespect to customers or anyone else in the company be tolerated. In customer-company interactions, rude and discourteous behaviour could spell serious trouble for the company and every employee must understand the consequences of engaging in such behaviour.

Since it is no longer possible or acceptable that customer service is limited to a single department, every employee must be aware of and cultivate basic customer service skills. By utilizing these skills, a company can go from a mediocre company to one that is truly excellent. Customers now have enough choices in terms of products and services – hence for them the truly differentiating and unique aspect would be top class customer service.  Simply by putting oneself in their shoes, employees would understand why customer service skills are so crucial and why each one should possess them.

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