10 Skills Employers Look for in a Customer Service Representative

Customer service skills

Customer service is a very important role in any organisation because customers usually speak first with customer service representatives before purchasing any product or when they experience any difficulty using a particular product and other needs as they arise; whether it’s to fill in an enquiry form, give a complaint or make a comment about a product or service offered, a customer service representative stands in the gap for the company, providing customers with information on its behalf.

A customer service representative also handles complaints and consistently follows up to ensure the customer is satisfied. She (or he) provides the organisation with feedback as a means to improve the organisation’s services as well as the customer experience.

A customer service representative is basically a sales person; she tries to persuade customers about products by clearing doubts and help foster positive decision-making. A good customer service representative thinks on her feet, processes information in normal or emergency situations, she is also a problem solver.

A good customer service representative possesses the following skills;

Excellent Communicationwriting, verbal and listening skills are core communication skills. As a customer service representative, you are expected to speak well (in the right tone, context and manner) with clients; whether face to face or over the phone.

Possessing excellent vocabulary is a plus for a customer service representative – as opposed to corporate speak and use of industry jargons. Customers don’t reach out to customer service representatives to be overwhelmed with information or feel intimidated for any reason, leaving a customer more confused than they were before talking to you works against the organisation.

Listening to a customer with rapt attention and deep interest helps you figure out what the customer really needs.

Understanding that written and verbal communication are distinct and require different approaches; Email and phone etiquettes are a must have.  Your ability to relay information to customers appropriately helps improves the customer’s positive perception of the company.

Stress Tolerance: as a customer service representative, you are required to attend to customers’ needs whenever you are reached, this would demand so much work on your part, hence makes it of prime importance that you manage your time effectively so that you can offer customers with as much assistance as possible.  Sometimes you may need to work between shifts –mornings, evenings, overnights, and holidays.

Persuasion: as mentioned earlier, a customer service representative is also a sales person which means customers must look forward to the benefits of a product or service before they make a purchase. You are not to lure the customer into buying products, but rather convince them it’ll be worth their time and money.

Interpersonal skills: or people skills if you like. This is a very key skill for a customer service representative. The customer service department interacts with more customers than other departments in an organisation. It’s important you know how to run a conversation smoothly with every customer you interact with; however naïve or overbearing the person might seem. In other words, you should know how to deal with people irrespective of their backgrounds, personalities, attitudes, or knowledge about the organisation. You must also be friendly.

Dependability: when people reach out to customer service representatives, they hope to get their problems solved and not just spend time talking. A customer should feel comfortable speaking with any customer service representative, this makes the customer rely more on the representative and loosen up during a conversation. As an added value, you give each customer the ‘feel good’ factor.

Self-control: customer service representatives mostly speak with worried or angry customers who are dissatisfied with a product, giving terse replies or turning the conversation into an exchange of insults really puts the company in a black hole. Exercising self-control in this sense simply means showing respect to customers and not rudely try to prove a point, your conversations have to be well-mannered.  Every customer is a potential sales person, customers are still the best sales people for any company and need to be treated with utmost care; your level of self-control would determine how much or less a customer is pleased with the organisation.

Attention to details: explicitly, you can only understand a customer’s needs or concern by paying attention to subtle things.

Empathy: as a customer service representative, placing yourself in clients’ shoes makes them feel truly cared for. This is the first point of satisfaction for any customer. All humans enjoy the feeling that someone understands them when something goes wrong.

Computer skills: since you’ll constantly have to retrieve information from the company database, you should know how to work with basic software packages (Microsoft  Word and Excel for example)  to easily access data.

Team Management: you’ll be working with your team members and colleagues in other units of the organisation to get updates on  information and products and services offered; with this skill, you can effectively understand the workings of the system and easily communicate that to customers.

All these skills are interlinked; you can rarely function effectively without all these skilled combined. Other skills required include: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, independence etc.

From our Database, some of the requirements for a customer representative job are:

A degree/HND (mostly in any field)

Previous working experience in similar roles is a plus

Good organisational and priority management skills

Lateral thinking and interpersonal skills.

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