5 Customer Service Skills You Need to Teach Your Customer Support Team

Customer Service Skills

Customer service is more than just saying “I’m Sorry” or “Your Welcome.

In today’s highly digital world, customers’ purchasing decisions are based not only on your product and service offering, but also on your customer care and support.

Your customer support can make or break your brand reputation, and ultimately your revenue.

Train your support team with the right customer support skills and both will see a big boost.

Below are 5 of the customer service skills that every customer support team should know.

Know Your Product Inside-and-Out

Nothing displays confidence and builds trust in a customer better than knowledge of the product or service they are being sold. When your support team knows the product well, it is also much easier to recommend a solution or resolve a problem faster rather than having to hold the customer to consult or forward them to a more knowledgeable person. Knowing the product thus improves the speed of support and builds stronger relationships with customers.

Knowledge of a product or service also means that your team is aware, in advance, of certain weaknesses that are likely to cause issues. When these are raised up in a support call, they are better able to make an effective resolution demo that highlights the benefits of the product despite its obvious shortcomings. As you can imagine, such knowledge builds confidence making them return customers.

Personalize the Service Even When it’s Not Personal

In today’s online world, business has become personal. Due to daily bombardments by brand advertisements and salesy emails, customers take great pleasure in a personalized service. People feel more comfortable when they know they are talking to a human being who personally understands their situation.

Personalization is more than just connecting. It’s also about convenience and friendliness. According to a report by Janrain, nearly 74% of online consumers are frustrated by website content that has nothing to do with their interests. Your customers have reached a tipping point where they are no longer patient with brands that push irrelevant content to them. Your customers are different in terms of their value to you and what they need from you and they know that all too well.

One way to avoid this obstacle is by letting customers help themselves. Getting out of the way of your customer is sometimes better support. Offer a self-service customer care where they can consult forums and wikis and possibly bring together your customers in a space where they can communicate and share information about your products and services. Communifire has done this successfully where special clients, business partners, and privileged customers can interact and collaborate, all in one space with everything related to the customer.

Take Your Time with Your Customer

Most upset customers are driven by emotion, not logic. So if your customer isn’t happy and ripping you to shreds, don’t take things personally.

Complaints contain insight and are great for telling you what you did or didn’t do wrong.

Customers would rather get competent service than be rushed, so take the time to truly listen and figure out what they need.

Though important, speed is usually not the consumers’ biggest concern when communicating with your support team. Spending a little more time with the consumer may actually be the way to go.

The kind of service that keeps customers coming back simply cannot be rushed. One way to teach this skill set is to intentionally request your support team to take a little longer on customer service calls. Let them get personal by digging up information about the customers’ hobbies and albums. When your team brings up such information in conversations, the customer will know that the person on the other end of the line “gets it.”

A rushed service is regarded as rude. According to one study, 82% of respondents said they stopped doing business with an organization due to a poor customer experience. When asked what that customer experience was, 73% cited rude staff as an issue while 55% cited a lack of resolution in a timely manner. The effect of a poor customer experience went beyond the initial contact with 85% wanting to warn others about doing business with that organization.

As the above study shows, your customers’ feelings are more important than speed of service. When speed is placed as a priority over feelings, you can be sure the customer is not going to be happy.

Take Responsibility

“Great customer service isn’t about always being right. It’s about always being willing to make it right.”
~ Gregory Ciotti, Help Scout

According to Shep Hyken, an author and customer service speaker, “a customer service apology is stronger with a personal touch.” How you take responsibility is dependent on your choice of words and tone. According to a Harvard study, blaming external, uncontrollable causes for problems makes one seem less trustworthy. By not owning up to your mistakes, you are in fact implying that you are unable to fix problems and you don’t see a way out.

The above study however showed that those who accept responsibility, even if its not true, makes customers conclude that your company knows what it’s doing and it’s in control and can change the situation.

Accepting responsibility is also a good way to show that you care about the bad experience your customers are facing and you intend to do something about it. Private spaces like those provided on the Communifire platform are great places to acknowledge and try to resolve problems that your customers may be facing.

Have a Sense of Humor

Humor is a great way to inject personality into a conversation and diffuse an otherwise tense situation. In some instances, you may have to butt heads with difficult or unreasonable client requests. The customer may simply be having a bad day or they may be frustrated from trying to use your product or service. One way to resolve this is to be an attentive customer support representative. Another way is humor.

Humor results in openness, acceptance, and even appreciation. With many customers expecting nothing but the best, balancing expectations with humor can help a dissatisfied customer get the right perspective of things. Teach your customer support staff to laugh at themselves since this will project them as being more competent and confident. Laughing at the situation can also be a great distraction as they try to resolve the problem.

A case in point is when a customer was ordering a meal and the annoying smoke detector went off. The waiter said, “Sounds like dinner is ready.” He laughed and the noise was not a bother anymore.

Great customer service is both an art and a science. Your customer support can learn how to offer a better service but also needs to understand what “ticks’ with your customers. It’s not rocket science, but its about their attitude toward their role and understanding their customers’ needs.


Written by

Tim Eisenhauer is a co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.


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