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5 Basic Skills Your Customer Service Reps Cannot Live Without

  
  
  
  

describe the imageWhen it comes to providing the best possible service to your customers, the people you hire will make all the difference. Many customer service managers make the mistake of hiring new reps without much discernment and end up with a staff that is just "doing a job" rather than serving the customers.

To ensure you get the best possible people for your customer service positions, we have five basic skills your customer service employees cannot be without.

Active Listening

First and foremost, customer service representatives need to be able to listen to a customer's problem, accurately assess the issue and find the best possible solution.

The ability to actively listen does not come naturally to everyone; it is important to assess this skill in a potential CSR at the initial interview to see if the person has what it takes. Good listeners typically make some of the best customer service employees because they are most likely to understand what a customer needs quickly and accurately.

Clear Communication

In addition to good listening skills, customer service representatives must have the ability to communicate thoughts and information clearly and concisely. Customer service staff may need to communicate with customers through a variety of venues: in person, on the phone and through email or written correspondence. It is very important that the people who come in contact with your customers daily are able to convey your policies and products to customers efficiently and accurately.

Memory Retention

Customer service representatives need to keep a lot of information in their minds – names of customers, company policies and product details. They need to remember transactions with customers to provide adequate follow-up. They also need to be able to quickly process information from other departments within the company so that they can communicate that information accurately to customers.

Clearly, strong memory retention is an important asset to any effective customer service representative.

Negotiation and Persuasion

Customer service representatives are often put in the position of needing to negotiate with customers or persuade them to accept a particular policy or purchase a product. Customer service reps use these skills to woo back disgruntled customers and convey negative information about a product that has been discontinued or a policy that cannot be bent. These individuals must be able to find a common ground with customers in sticky situations so both the company and the customer come out winners in the end.

Efficiency

Customers want transactions to be handled quickly and accurately, so efficiency is a must in a quality customer service representative. These are not the employees that sit back and wait for the customers to come to them; they are proactive in finding ways to raise the bar on service and anticipate customers needs so they can meet them as quickly as possible.

Customer service requires many important skills, and hiring people who already possess those skills will make your job as a service manager that much easier. By looking for these specific characteristics in your customer service representatives, you can make the entire customer experience at your business that much better.

- Meredith Estep

Comments

I would add a 6th: Unlimited Patience.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 8:35 AM by Gabor H
Listening is so important for any role in life, but customer service reps will make things easier for themselves and create much happier customers just by honing their listening skills.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 8:47 AM by Emily
I believe that hiring right is key! I suggest spending more time before hiring someone to ensure that they are the right fit for the position.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:01 AM by Melissa
Efficiency when dealing with customers is key. Everyone is in a better mood when time is managed well.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:16 AM by Alan
I agree with Gabor...unlimited patience is certainly high on the list! More importantly, it is important the organization demonstrates these basic skills to their employees. If the employee is treated with these basics, they are more likely to treat their customers that way. 
 
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:17 AM by Sara
These skills are great! However, companies must continue education and training on these techniques to make sure their CSRs don’t become rusty over time. It’s easy to lose focus when dealing with difficult customers every day!
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:42 AM by Katy
Efficiency is a great criteria for CSR's, just be sure you aren't compromising quality relationship building or service in the name of getting it done right!
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 10:01 AM by Keri
It is very important to actively listen. Repeating what you heard back to the customer let's them know that you were listening, as well as helps you retain the message.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 10:15 AM by Jenny
Being efficient is so important! Making the most of the customer's time and getting the right results is the key to keeping them satisfied.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 11:27 AM by Lisa
Hiring is certainly very important in building an exceptional customer service team. This information should be considered by any customer service management team!
Posted @ Wednesday, October 05, 2011 2:13 PM by Stacy
Test your candidates throughout the hiring process on all of these skills to ensure they can successfully perform to the standards your company expects.
Posted @ Wednesday, October 05, 2011 3:48 PM by Brittni
These five customer service skills are very important for a company to be successful!
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 7:21 AM by J.W.
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Posted @ Saturday, October 08, 2011 1:10 AM by Canada Goose Expedition
5 basic skills for customer service
Posted @ Tuesday, May 08, 2012 3:25 PM by hashika
for consulting assignment
Posted @ Friday, May 31, 2013 10:09 AM by Kellie
Kellie, we are glad you found our blog. I hope it assisted you in your consulting assignment.
Posted @ Friday, May 31, 2013 11:05 AM by Meredith
Absolutely true, these are all important and very useful that customer representative should possessed. For me this is my number 1 skill that reps should have "Active listening" this is very important because if you don't know how to listen to your customers everything is useless. Great article! Thank you for sharing.
Posted @ Friday, June 07, 2013 1:17 PM by Salvador Polonan
Salvador, thank you for your comment. We are happy to hear you found our article enlightening and helpful.
Posted @ Monday, June 10, 2013 10:11 AM by Meredith
Hi there, thank you for sharing this it helped me assess myself. I would like to add that knowing your strengths and weaknesses, honesty, and always smile when taking each call its the glue that bonds you and the customer on the other end of the line.
Posted @ Friday, July 12, 2013 8:16 PM by melissa
This article is so true! And I am right with the previous poster that #6 on your list should be unlimited patience!
Posted @ Wednesday, December 18, 2013 7:39 PM by Amber looking for an answering service
I have 2 questions relating to staffing  
1. How will you staff your help desk including the ratio that needs to be used?. 
2. What characteristics would you have need to look at
Posted @ Sunday, March 09, 2014 2:59 PM by Ferowza Moosa
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