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.
Before we dive into the details on this topic, we suggest you check out Indeed, the best job board for small business owners. Visit Indeed to get $50 of free premium advertising.
Top 25 Customer Service Skills
Ramonica Gamble, Ramonica Gamble Consulting
I look for someone with great communication skills. They must have the ability and desire to connect with people. Customers expect a customer service person to be able to understand and meet their needs. Communication is a must. Failure to execute would make the customer’s life difficult.
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.
Ryan G Wright, CEO, Do Hard Money
The customer service skill I like to look for the most is the ability to really listen for the actual problem instead of going into a conversation with a preconceived idea of what the problem is. Some one that can discover what is really causing a problem and solve it is better than someone who just gives out canned answers or assumes they know what the problem is before listening.
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!
Kenny James, Co-Founder, James Advisory Group
The number one skill we hire for and train for is to Smile. Sounds simple right? It is a key attribute and skill and is directly related to one’s ability to control emotions.
It is mandatory that a person in the position of customer service is aware of this skill and practices it on a daily basis with every customer. Easier said than done, but when we hire for this position in multiple business we manage, we look for people that truly understand this concept and either has that skill developed or is willing to quickly learn and practice the skill of smiling.
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.
Tricia Lucas, Lucas Select, Inc.
Critical Thinking abilities: Insightful customer facing professionals need to be able to analyze large amounts of data about their customer in a short time in order to assist them. Our changing I want it now culture doesn’t leave much room for error especially with the existence of social media. Being able to quickly assess the situation, make sense of the bigger picture, ask the right questions, and provide the right solution is key to the success of that incident and the customer overall.
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.
Adam Broetje, CEO, Odd Dog Media
The top customer service skill we look for is an ability to relate to a wide range of customer personalities and develop a strong personal relationship. In our case, customer service reps interact with the same clients on a regular basis and it’s a night & day difference between a
professional connection and a personal connection. Once they see you as a friend and a champion for their business, communication gets easier and everyone sees greater success in projects.
Here are 15 other soft skills to consider when hiring for customer service:
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. Has organizational skills
While organizational skills will vary, you do need someone who has the ability to stay focused and prioritize tasks depending on business needs.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. Is flexible
When looking for a customer service champ, you need someone who can show up when needed, even if not scheduled.
20. 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.
21. Is consistent
The person you hire needs to be able to deliver consistent service, especially in a customer-facing position.
22. Willing to learn
While the person you hire may not know all the answers, they should be willing to find out those answers.
23. 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.
24. Willing to improve
You need a team player who’s committed to self-improvement on the job. The ability to embrace feedback is huge.
25. 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.