15 Necessary Customer Service Skills and How To Develop Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Excellent customer service is crucial for a positive brand experience, customer loyalty and high retention. This means you, as a customer service professional, have a massive impact on business growth. To perform your role successfully, you require certain skills that benefit both the customers and the business. In this article, we list these important customer service skills and provide some tips to develop and improve them.

List of important customer service skills

Customer service skills are the behaviour and practices that enable you to assist the customers and solve their problems. This leads to a delightful brand experience and customer loyalty. Equipped with these skills, you can perform your role as a customer service professional more efficiently. Here is the list of these necessary skills that you can develop:

1. Persuasion skills

Persuasion is influencing others to believe in or do something. Often regarded as a part of sales skills, it is equally important to provide excellent customer service. As a customer service professional, you may use persuasion skills in several situations every day. For example, you may eloquently communicate and advise the customers during crises or convenience them for the available solution.

Read more: What Is Persuasion? Definition, Examples and How It Works

2. Empathy

Empathy is being aware of and understanding how others feel. It is placing yourself in someone else's situation and seeing it from their perspective. This is often the foundation of all customer service roles. Being empathic towards your customers involves actively listening and acknowledging their concerns, being patient and respectful while they explain their problems, making them feel valued and providing the best solution to address their needs.

3. Communication skills

Good communication skills are vital for customer service. Being able to articulate yourself confidently, personalising the interaction and using the right vocabulary and tone can have a great impact on customer experience. This applies to all communication—be it in person, on the phone or written. Some tips to improve your communication include the following:

  • Understanding your customer and their needs.

  • Practice active listening.

  • Keep the conservation simple and succinct.

  • Use positive language.

Read more: How To Improve Communications Skills

4. Problem-solving skills

The fundamental reason customer service exists is to solve the customer's problems. This makes having strong problem-solving skills crucial for performing your job successfully. As a customer service professional, it is your duty to help the customers with identifying the problem and its source, evaluating the best solutions and implementing them.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

5. Patience

Patience is the ability to keep calm and avoid getting anxious during delay or stress. This is the skill that you may often employ in your customer service roles. For example, you may face customers who are unaware or confused about your products or services and want to learn about them. Regardless of the situation, it is important to listen to their concerns and address them patiently.

6. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence involves being aware of and staying in control of one's emotions. It also involves understanding how others feel so you can have empathetic interactions. In customer service, emotional intelligence helps in achieving greater self-awareness and self-control, both of which leads to better productivity. To understand the customer's emotions so you can make a strong connection, be empathetic and provide a suitable solution.

7. Effective listening

Effective listening is the basis of other customer service skills, be it good communication, problem solving or persuasion. It serves two main purposes: to get a better understanding of the customer's problem and to make them feel valued. Consider the following things to improve your listening skills:

  • Give your full attention while the customer is speaking.

  • Avoid interrupting them during the conversation.

  • Show your interest through verbal and non-verbal cues.

  • Ask questions to clarify when necessary.

  • Be patient with your customer.

8. Time management

While it is your duty to patiently listen and solve the customer's problem, you also need to ensure that you do not spend too much time on it. This requires you to have excellent time management skills. Time management is planning and consciously using the time for maximum efficiency and results. When you are good at managing your time, you can handle more customers and solve their problems in a minimum amount of time. This also leaves a positive customer experience because even they look for the resolution in the shortest time possible.

Read more: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

9. Product or service knowledge

To serve your customers, you need good knowledge about your company's products or services. Knowledge enables you to assist better and come up with suitable solutions for excellent service. This also leads to higher customer satisfaction and a positive brand image. From the business perspective, having excellent product knowledge is essential to present the company's offering more persuasively and close more sales.

10. Creative thinking

Many times, the conventional methods of performing tasks or solving problems may be inefficient. You may need to find better ways to assist or troubleshoot the problems. This requires you to have creative and lateral thinking skills.

11. Multitasking

Multitasking is the ability to handle more than one task at a time. A typical day as a customer service professional involves managing multiple duties and responsibilities. For example, you may manage multiple customers at a time, handle customers on phones and search information on the system to assist them. Developing multitasking abilities can help you save time, improve productivity and serve customers more efficiently.

12. Adaptability

You may find that every customer you interact with is different. So is the problem, preference, expectation and behaviour. By being adaptable according to the customers and their needs, you can take better control of the situations and problems and respond in a more appropriate way.

13. Willingness to learn

Willingness to learn is an important behavioural skill in customer service. The very nature of customer service jobs requires you to keep updating yourself with new information, customer needs, business needs and market trends. So keeping an open mind and having the willingness to learn new skills, experience new things and take extra responsibilities can help you succeed in your job role.

14. Optimistic mindset

You need an optimistic mindset while helping your customers. Many times, you may face unexpected situations or difficult customers, and you are required to approach such situations with a positive attitude. This includes taking responsibility for the issue on behalf of the company, being proactive in responding to the situation and providing the most viable solution.

How to improve your customer service skills

Anyone can benefit from improving their customer service skills. For example, being a good communicator, having empathy and active listening can help you be a better employee and colleague overall. Additionally, expanding your technical knowledge and skills can make it easier to provide service to others. Here are several ways you can improve your customer service skills:

1. Ask for direct feedback from customers and colleagues

If allowed by your employer, ask customers to provide feedback on the service. This can help you understand whether you are providing a great experience for customers on a daily basis. Avoid taking any negative criticism personally. All customer feedback is important, even if it isn't positive.

You may want to consider asking for feedback at regular intervals, such as quarterly or annually. Keep track of your feedback, and reflect on it with each new round to get an idea of your improvement.

2. Ask a manager for feedback

Managers are often responsible for observing how employees work with customers. As such, you may want to ask a manager for feedback on your customer interactions. If most of those interactions happen over email or other digital means, it might be helpful to forward or print out your communications for your manager to highlight your strengths and areas for improvement.

3. Read customer feedback reports

If your employer provides customers with service feedback forms, take the opportunity to review them if available to you. Reviewing customer feedback may give you a different sense of your current customer service abilities than what you may get internally from management or colleagues.

4. Practise new skills

You may find it helpful to practise your customer service skills. You can practise skills like friendliness and patience with everyone on and off the job, including colleagues and customers. You may also find that improving your knowledge of the service or product your employer offers improves your ability to resolve issues with customers.

Improving your customer service skills can help you move from providing good customer service to great customer service. Good customer service results in customers who are pleased with the service they received, but who may not go on to provide feedback or reviews for you and the company. Great customer service makes customers want to give you high ratings on customer reviews and make them more likely to share the story of their positive experience with others.

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