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15 Must Have Customer Service Skills

Jana Love / Jan 12, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Skills_Logo.pngWe have talked several times about finding the right "employee fit"  for the job. Why? Because there seems to still be several organizations that could use and apply some additional information on the subject. 

So here we have the formula for you in words- below you will get the comprehensive list of "must have or must develop" skills. To most successfully implement these, companies must have a people-focused culture and human resources hiring strategy that focuses on finding and developing successful employees who meet company goals.  The disconnect comes when the company's business strategies, company culture, and HR activities are not aligned.

I was recently sent a great article that was written by Paul Hesselschwerdt, President of Global Partners Inc.  He provided such a comprehensive look at all of the skill sets that every organization should develop to compete in the "good customer service" arena. How does your organization measure up with each of these skills?  Chances are some are more developed than others. What I really liked about this article, in addition to considering where you are with each point, is that Paul has included how to "Improve the Skill" articles for each of the 15.  


1. Proactivity

Are you reactive or proactive? Today customers want more than a supplier - they want a Trusted Business Partner. This means that instead of waiting for customers to ask for help, you need to anticipate where customers are likely to need help and offer it first.

Improve This Skill: Move From Reactive To Proactive Service 

2. Understanding Your Customer's Business

Do you understand your customer's business or are you simply focusing on the task at hand? By taking time to discover what your customer's priorities are, you can position yourself for success by focusing on what's most important to your customer. If their top priority is to cut costs, maybe a proposal for them to purchase new equipment isn't the best option. By understanding your customer's 'Big Picture,' you can propose alternatives that will truly help.

Improve This Skill: Understanding The Big Picture 

3. Finding Value For Customers

Are you able to find value for your customers? Service people meet with customers over 70 times per month. Each of these touch points provide service people with the opportunity to find value for customers. By keeping an eye out for these opportunities, service has the potential to create real value for both your customer and your organization.

Improve This Skill: Find Value For Customers 

4. Strengthening And Expanding Relationships

Are you creating strong relationships in your customer's organization? What about your own organization? Strengthening these relationships will help you in achieving long term growth. Once you begin building these types of relationships you will experience more transparency and openness.

Improve This Skill: Building And Maintaining Strong Relationships 

5. Delighting Customers

Are you delighting customers or simply satisfying them? The ability to delight customers will help you pull ahead of competitors. Everyone can offer what is expected - it's in the definition. Impressing customers is what sets you apart.

Improve This Skill: Going Beyond Customer Service Expectations 

6. Solving Problems And Troubleshooting

When thinking about troubleshooting, system downs and poor product performance might come to mind. However, one skill to develop is the ability to solve real customer problems that might not be technical in nature. If you focus on root cause problems, problem solving becomes clearer and faster.

Improve This Skill: Customer Service Problem Solving 

8. Empathy

The ability to create empathy is one of the most important, yet hard to come by skills among technical professionals. Empathy will continue to grow in importance as more of today's technically related tasks are taken over by highly intelligent machines.

Improve This Skill: Steps to Create Empathy 

9. Body Language

Can you read body language? The ability to tell if your customer's words match their non-verbals is an important communication skill. Maybe they are holding information back or have experienced something that has caused them a great deal of stress. Checking for alignment can help you determine if your customer really means what they say.

Improve This Skill: How To Read Body Language 

10. Open Questions

Can you draw out important information from your customers? Asking powerful, open-ended questions can help you determine facts and feelings about a particular situation. And if your customer is not very talkative, open questions are a great way to get them to share their story.

Improve This Skill: Secret To Asking Great Questions 

11. Responding To Customer Requests

Is the customer always right? We all know the answer to this question. The hard part is being able to respond to customer requests in a way solves their problem but doesn't give away the store. If you are skilled in recognizing your customer's real problem, proposing alternative conditions that will solve that problem can enable you to reach a balanced outcome.

Improve This Skill: Never Say No To Customers 

12. Addressing Customer Outcomes

Customers today expect suppliers to act more like trusted partners. A big part of this means that suppliers need to stop focusing solely on products and features, and start focusing on business outcomes. Your focus on outcomes will demonstrate to your customer that you have their best interests in mind.

Improve This Skill: Focusing on Customer Outcomes 

13. Communicating in Firefighting Situations

How are your communication skills under pressure? In these situations, it is especially important to make sure that you are practicing good customer service skills. It can be easy for communication to break down in times of crisis, which can cause a situation to quickly spiral out of control.

Improve This Skill: Maintaining Customer Focus Skills Under Pressure 

14. Keeping Calm In Stressful Situations

In stressful situations, our body has been programmed to employ freeze-flight-fight mode. It is at this time when our body can undergo an amydala hijack, which can reduce any chance of a rational response to 0. By developing the ability to keep calm in times of stress, you can avoid these potentially damaging situations.

Improve This Skill: Be Calm In A Stressful Situation 

15. Revenue Generation

As product revenues decline, organizations are looking for new ways to increase sales. Research indicates that although product sales are decreasing, there is continued opportunity for service organizations to grow revenue. In fact, many service people are already positioned to make this happen.

Improve This Skill: Service Generates New Revenue and Profit

A lot of great information! Thank you to Paul for providing the road map to a better people focused culture. The additional attention you put on learning and mastering each of these skills will put your company one step closer to profiting from being customer focused! 

Topics: Customer Service Skills, Customer Service, HIring

Tips and resources on how to be a master of customer service and sales; to improve yourself personally, as an employee, and as a leader; and much more.

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