Are you planning to hire someone for a customer service position, but not sure what attributes to look for? While your technical requirements may vary, there are universal soft skills that you need to look for in your hiring process.
Emotional intelligence is in many ways more important than proficiency in computer skills or other job requirements because you can teach those. It’s a lot harder to teach empathy, interpersonal behavior, and how to control one’s own emotions.
We spoke with small business professionals to find out what customer service skills they look for when hiring for a customer service position.
Top 25 Customer Service Skills
1. Ryan Mattock, CommissionCrowd
For us true customer service goes far beyond the ‘call of duty’. The people we choose to work with must have a belief and passion for the solutions we provide and above all else, our customer’s expectations. Our people must be analytical, smart and be able to stabilize any situation in favor of the customer. They must be patient, listen to and understand that individual’s needs and expectations. Customer service encompasses every part of the journey, from that person’s very first interaction right through to long-term loyalty and repeat business. Hard work and dedication builds the framework, customer service builds the brand.
Peter Jensen Kurki, Yacht Broker, Commodore of Business Development, Bennett Brothers Yachts
The number one quality a customer service employee must have.
If the associate assigned to the position of customer service can properly listen to the information being spoken or shown through body language the corresponding business can enhance profitability, proficiency and credibility…
The art of listening, than restating the information back to the client is a skill set. Restating validates, diffuses tension, and begins the process to purchase, repair or conclude business.
3. Shep Hyken, Hyken.com
An important skill – actually a mindset – for someone in customer service (or almost position in a company with a customer-focused culture) is to have a hospitality mentality. Some of the best customer service people have a background in hotels, restaurants or retail. They know how to communicate and take care of customers. While the person doesn’t necessarily have to have a background in hospitality, they can still have the mindset.
Ray McKenzie, Founder and Principal, Red Beach Advisors
The top skill I desire when hiring for a customer service position is amazing verbal and written communication skills in the language required to communicate with customers. The ability to communicate with clients and customers when they need service and support is extremely important. Language barriers result in frustration and miscommunication. If a customer service and support agent is able to communicate well and explain themselves, they will leave the customer with a feeling of understanding and that they were heard.
Travis Bennett, Managing Director, Studio Digita Co. Ltd.
For a customer service agent there’s only one thing that matters, the ability to drop everything and put the needs of the customer first. I hire staff who have shown me they’ve got the ability to be proactive, and are willing and able to find actual solutions for my customers. If they can’t keep the customers happy, we’re not going to stay in business for long!
Tony Zhao, CEO, Agora
The best customer-service representatives are polite, calm, patient, and good listeners – rude reps have certainly stopped me dealing with companies in the past. Making people feel valued is critical, as is taking the time to listen to their views.
Karen Williams, CEO, Beyond The Sky
The top customer service skills companies should look for are skills that can’t be taught. You can teach anyone a script, product knowledge or how to use software, but attitude, personality, empathy, are critical when dealing with customers and their issues. Knowing how to keep your cool and still provide exceptional customer service after a customer has yelled and screamed at you, is either in you or it’s not.
8. Sandra Tadic, Content Manager Ucraft
Patience tops our list of most-needed customer service skills. When it comes to delivering an exceptional customer experience, this skill is your best asset, and it will definitely wow your customers. If your customers are frustrated or confused, just be patient and do your best to maintain a calm demeanor.
Colette Coleman, Director of Marketing and Community Engagement, Zinc Learning Labs
In our business, we find that a background similar to the user is very helpful, so in our case we look for people who have experience in education, usually as teachers. They understand how busy our users are with teaching all day and how challenging it can be to integrate new technology when you’re also simultaneously managing a class of 30.
10. Gregory Blondeau, founder and director of Proxyclick
When hiring for a customer service position, it is essential that the applicant have patience, persistence, multi-tasking, outstanding writing skills, and, most importantly, empathy for the customer. After all, 50% of the success depends on whether the service provider understood the client’s issue and the problem it created for the client.
11. Kristy Dickerson, CEO of Startplanner
They should have organizational skills – When asked for dates, times or specific information the customer service agent might not know off hand, he or she should be able to find it right away. Being well organized helps to make the person more efficient and it reflects incredibly well on the business as a whole.
12. Laura MacLeod, LMSW and Creator of From the Inside Out Project®
Look for people who are comfortable in their own skin and have a sense of humor. Customer service is all about using your personality, values, and sensibilities to make a human connection. When you show empathy, admit mistakes and apologize, and lighten the mood with humor, you build a relationship with the customer. This is the foundation and key to customer loyalty.
Here are 14 other soft skills to consider when hiring for customer service:
13. A team player
You need someone who is able to work with a team. Customer service also extends to helping other team members do the best they can for your customers.
14. A problem solver
Whomever you hire needs the ability to logically think through customer-facing complications and come up with a winning solution, or at least be an active part of the conversation.
15. Can manage time effectively
You need someone who does not have a tendency to procrastinate. You need someone who understands how to set goals and work towards them.
16. Takes responsibility
Whomever you hire will represent the company to the customer. A representative can’t meet a customer’s frustration with a “I don’t know.” Look for people who take ownership and try to solve customer problems.
17. Has basic computer skills
Because most offices use at least one type of computer system, it makes sense to hire someone who is adept at technology.
18. Able to manage personal life and emotions
There’s nothing worse than a member of the team who’s constantly bringing drama from home to the job. You need someone who will leave their personal life at the door.
19. Is respectful
You’ll want to cultivate an environment of respect where each member is courteous, considerate, and polite–with each other as well as customers.
20. Is flexible
When looking for a customer service champ, you need someone who can show up when needed, even if not scheduled.
21. Is dependable
Closely tied to flexibility, it’s equally important to choose someone who you can depend on to do their job to the best of their ability.
22. Is consistent
The person you hire needs to be able to deliver consistent service, especially in a customer-facing position.
23. Willing to learn
While the person you hire may not know all the answers, they should be willing to find out those answers.
24. Is prompt
Being prompt is definitely a virtue when it comes to customer service skills. You need to hire someone who will show up on time every time.
25. Willing to improve
You need a team player who’s committed to self-improvement on the job. The ability to embrace feedback is huge.
26. A natural salesperson
Although you’re hiring for customer service, you also need someone who understands your product and will be able to recommend the best fit for your customer.
Over to You
Which one of these customers service skills do you think is the most important for your customer service position? Or is there something we missed? Let us know in the comments below.