You may think customer service jobs are a breeze, but if you’ve never had one, you might be in for a bit of a shock. There is actually a great deal of both hard and soft skills involved.
The hard skills speak for themselves and are usually a no brainer with any experience. Can you talk to people? Handle transactions, etc.? Then you’re probably just fine. The soft skills are the ones you’ll need to work on.
Here are the top 10.
You need to cultivate the ability to let things roll right off your back. That means interactions with rude customers or hostile clients—or even stressed-out bosses—need to not impact your overall disposition. Try not to take things too personally. Take responsibility when things are your fault—and work to fix them. Dig deep, build your resilience, and succeed.
This is probably important in every job, as a foundation for so many other qualities, but also crucial for customer service positions. Why? Because if you’re confident, your customer will have confidence in you (and, in turn, the company).
This is probably part of resilience. But you will encounter slow people, rude people, old people, and every kind of inane question. Having the patience to roll with whatever comes your way and not letting a few little things overwhelm you or throw you off your job performance is key.
4. Communication Skills
Talking to customers, as well as communicating with your managers and co-workers, is crucial—even moreso in customer service positions. If you can’t make this skill one of the jewels in your crown, forget it.
Even though a lot of the job is interfacing with clients and customers, you will have to function as part of a team. Try not to slack off or only attend to your own tasks. Think of yourself as a part of a team—the team being the entire company. Do this by building your emotional intelligence, or EQ.
A major part of communicating is listening. Try to work on active listening: make eye contact, nod along, repeat important things back to show you’re taking in what’s important to your client. Ask clarifying questions to prove you understand their situation. The important thing is to make your customer feel heard.
These jobs can involve long hours and not a huge amount of salary, not to mention troubleshooting, merchandise, and dealing with disgruntled people. Try to keep a positive outlook and focus on what you can do to make the experience better—for your coworkers, your clients, and yourself.
There are some situations in which the customer isn’t always right—and you will have to say no. Don’t veer into being aggressive or demanding, but do learn how to make your voice strong and steady and clear when it needs to be.
Remember that customers are people too. You don’t necessarily know what they’re going through or what they have waiting for them at home. Try not to treat them like annoying robots taking up so much of your time and energy. Put yourself in their shoes as often as you can.
If you bring nothing else to a customer service job, a sense of humor will steer you in the right direction. Defuse stressful situations, endear yourself to bosses, colleagues, and clients alike. And be charitable; laugh at others’ jokes, even if they aren’t as funny as yours. Laugh with people, not at them.