The 25 Top Customer Service Skills According to Statistics

Customer service skills are the attributes necessary to build great relationships with customers. These skills are becoming major factors in determining a company’s reputation. More and more, consumers have heightened expectations when it comes to the service they are offered.

Customers use previous knowledge of complaints or praise in their initial search for a company. Companies should focus on good customer service initiatives that improve their reputation.

Consumers also have the ability to switch companies quicker than ever before. As a result, customer retention relies on a high level of service. Representatives must be more than consistent and knowledgeable. They must also be efficient and pleasant.

Legacy customers expect there to be incentives for their continued support. New customers want to know why they should pledge their loyalty in the first place. In short, customer service is an evolving world. Here are 25 good customer service skills for any company to boost performance.

The 25 Essential Customer Service Skills

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Adaptability01

In the world of customer service, you can’t expect every interaction to be the same. You’re dealing with people, after all! Your customers will establish communication in a variety of ways — by phone, through social media, via email — depending on their situation. The more you can cater to their specific needs, the better.

Another place adaptability comes into play? When solving problems that are new or unfamiliar. The mental flexibility to think of out-of-the box solutions to your customers’ problems can come in very handy.

  • Communicate with your customers via their chosen channel
  • Search for innovative solutions to customer issues
  • Talk through problems you may be unfamiliar with

How to Improve Adaptability

To become a more adaptable workplace, practice behavioral adaptation. Assure your team understands that they can come to you to talk through any issues they might be having. You can also check out this podcast called “7 Skills for the Future.” They have a very helpful episode on adaptability.

60% of customers will move or change their contact channel depending on what they are doing and where they are.

New Voice Media

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man juggling tasks

Willingness02

to Learn

When dealing with customers, you will ultimately make mistakes. It’s how you learn from those mistakes that defines whether or not you will succeed in customer service. A willingness to improve is vital. That could mean learning enough about your product to solve a variety of problems. It could also mean learning better communication tactics from a negative interaction.

woman reading a book
  • Improve knowledge about your product or service
  • Learn from communication mistakes
  • Build new strategies for solving customer problems

How to Improve Willingness to Learn

Create an open-minded culture. Show your team that they may not always have the answers, but they can certainly seek them out! You can also try this exercise from Make a Dent in Leadership.

44% of consumers say they have been given the wrong answer to their problem from a customer service representative.

Kolsky

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Tenacity03

What separates great customer service from acceptable customer service? Great customer service practitioners will do what needs to be done to find solutions. Those who show persistence will stand out. Whether that means going above and beyond the call of duty or sticking with a problem until it’s resolved.

To acquire customers for life, each interaction should be treated with importance. Don’t give up when the going gets tough and your customers will rave to their friends about your company!

  • Find solutions to difficult problems
  • Put in the extra effort to double down on customer satisfaction
  • Invest in your customers’ happiness

How to Become More Tenacious

Tenacity often comes down to a belief system. To instill the belief that persistence is valued in your workplace, hold teams accountable. Encourage them to see problems through to the end by rewarding those who go above and beyond. This podcast about Kevin Hart’s tenacious approach to show business is inspiring!

44% of customers say that they feel they are working harder and investing more in the effort to solve a problem than the customer service representatives they work with.

Microsoft

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tenacity

Persuasion04

Having light sales skills can come in handy with customer service. Sometimes you will be contacted by a potential customer who is curious about your product or service. If you can persuade and handle objections, you’ve just landed a huge win for your company!

This can also occur on the opposite end of the spectrum. If you're dealing with angry customers, you may need to talk them into giving your company another chance. Customer retention is more valuable than acquisition, and you are responsible for making sure they stick with you.

man speaking with megaphone
  • Convince interested customers that your product is worth purchasing
  • Retain customers by reiterating your company’s value
  • Show that your company is open to and will act on customer feedback

How to Improve Persuasion Skills

Leaders can influence by using logical, emotional and cooperative persuasion tactics. Teach your team how to appeal to customers through the use of these tactics. This podcast on developing persuasion as a habit is also informative.

70% of U.S. consumers say they are willing to invest more money to work with a company that offers a higher level of service.

American Express

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Empathy05

The ability to see things from your customers’ point of view may be one of the most essential customer service skills. Sincere empathy can go a long way when solving a customer’s dilemmas. Even if you aren’t able to provide a perfect solution, letting them know that you care about finding a resolution is pivotal.

If you aren’t able to tell a customer exactly what they want to hear, your concern can help you communicate a better outcome. In this way, the customer will still feel heard and valued.

  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
  • Use your understanding of their situation to drive your decisions
  • Craft a message that shows your compassion

How to Improve Empathy

Empathy can be difficult or impossible to teach on a personal level, but developing that skill in the workplace is essential. Practice active listening with your team to ensure they are internalizing the needs of customers and each other. The BBC has a few helpful courses on listening and communication!

Customers are 9x more likely to be highly engaged when they receive what they consider to be empathetic customer support.

Gallup

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two people having a close conversation

Be Goal-Oriented06

This may not be the most expected trait of support reps, but being goal-oriented is very important. The goal of a customer service department should be to solve customer problems, but another goal should be to build a genuine customer relationship.

If customer service employees know about that second goal and have the drive to achieve it, they will be very successful at their job. Know what the goals of your company are and keeping your eye on them as you go through your daily routine. This can help you stand out in the customer service world.

person crossing a finish line
  • Know your company’s primary and secondary goals
  • Keep these goals in mind during every interaction
  • Think about ways you can build a genuine customer relationship

How to Reach Common Goals

Build a culture where your team is working toward one outcome together. You can do this by setting clear goals, both large and small. Set yearly as well as quarterly goals and reward your team when they achieve them. You may even reward them with team-building events designed to foster communication and camaraderie. Here are 33 other ideas to improve work performance!

97% of employees and executives agree that a lack of consistency is to blame for poor outcomes in a task or project.

GECKOBOARD

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Emotional Intelligence07

People in the customer service field need to be aware of the needs of their customers, both those expressed and those implied. Many times you won’t be able to see your customer face to face and sometimes you won’t even hear their voice!

Knowing how to read the customer’s emotional state as well as what they’re really asking for can help create a great experience. You can look for personality clues for your customers as well. For example, do they have a sense of humor? Then tailor your responses accordingly.

  • Listen for implied needs of your customer
  • Take note of their emotional state
  • Look for personality clues and tailor your communications to them

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Create a perceptive team by providing conditions where members can improve their emotional intelligence. Activities in which team members can practice self-awareness, self-regulation and recognition of others’ feelings can help. This podcast from Daniel Goleman on High Performance Through Emotional Intelligence is also helpful.

70% of customers say the perceptiveness of service agents in sales interactions is very important when retaining their business.

Convince&Convert

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eye visualizing emotions

Time Management08

Skills

You always want to make sure you’re giving your customers individualized attention. But, there is a point when you will need to move on to the next case. Having excellent time management skills can help you decide when that time has come.

You want to make sure you can solve customer issues and answer questions in an efficient manner. That way you can serve as many of them as possible. Time management can also help you decide when to move on if you can’t help the customer (and elevate them to the right person).

person crossing a finish line
  • Solve customer issues efficiently
  • Avoid wasting your time (and theirs) if you cannot help them
  • Know when to move on to the next customer

How to Improve Time Management Skills

There’s a fine line between efficiency and moving too quickly in customer service. Teach your team to walk the line by prioritizing issues and optimizing their schedule. This mini-course on time management can be helpful to take and share with those around you.

Two thirds of adults say that the most important thing a company can do is properly value their time.

Forrester

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Attentiveness09

Great customer service representatives will be engaged and attentive when solving customer problems. If a customer can sense that you have “checked out,” they likely will too — and head to your competitor to for help.

Make sure you are fully present during customer conversations and give them your complete attention. Ditching the canned responses and responding in your own words can be a great way to do this. Another way to show you’re engaged? Repeat their questions and express your empathy for their situation.

  • Stay fully present during conversations with a customer
  • Use your own words to respond to them
  • Repeat customer questions to show that you hear them

How to Improve Attentiveness

Teaching a team to be fully present is tricky, but not impossible! Active communication is a big part of this and so is asking the right questions. This podcast on How to Ask Better Questions is a great place to start!

78% of consumers have given up on a transaction because of a poor service experience.

American Express

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employee listening closely

A Calm Demeanor10

Let’s face it — sometimes customers can be frustrating. When you're unable to solve their problem or they grow angry with you, stay calm. This is pivotal.

When things get hectic, keep a calm attitude and help encourage others to remain calm as well. If you can keep a customer tranquil while they are dealing with a difficult issue, you’ve won. Your job is to be level-headed in these situations. Then the customer feels their situation is under control.

person keeping calm
  • Solve customer issues efficiently
  • Avoid wasting your time (and theirs) if you cannot help them
  • Know when to move on to the next customer

How to Keep a Calm Demeanor

There’s a fine line between efficiency and moving too quickly in customer service. Teach your team to walk the line by prioritizing issues and optimizing their schedule. This mini-course on time management can be helpful to take and share with those around you.

In one study, 62% of shoppers felt that customer service interaction was the most stressful part of shopping

Media Partners

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Acting Skills11

In the world of customer service, it’s inevitable that you will come across someone who you just can’t satisfy. They might be rude and unreasonable, but you must show them a friendly, cheerful attitude.

This isn’t always easy, especially if you’re dealing with unhappy customers. That’s where acting skills come into play. Your persona should stay the same whether you’re speaking with a customer who is thrilled or a customer who is at their wits end.

  • Maintain a friendly, cheerful disposition/body language no matter what
  • Keep the same persona no matter who you speak with
  • Use positive language to come to a productive resolution

How to Practice Acting Skills

Teaching your team techniques to improve their customer-facing persona is incredibly valuable. Good actors are able to put aside their feelings and biases. This helps them understand where others are coming from. Sometimes, this is more important than technical skills in customer service. Taking a basic acting course can help!

73% of customers say that they became enamoured with a brand because of working with friendly customer service representatives.

RightNow

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person remaining cheerful

Knowledge of the 12

Product/Technical Skills

The best customer service representatives will know their product backward and forward. By having a deep knowledge of the product, you will be better equipped to help customers when they have questions or problems.

You can become an advocate for your customers by making sure you have a working knowledge of the product you’re representing. You should know how the product operates, what shortcomings it has and what issues it struggles with. Ensuring you know the product as well as your customers do is very helpful.

employee studying product
  • Know your product inside and out
  • Experience issues the customer may be running into
  • Help customers by using your deep knowledge of the product

How to Improve Knowledge of Your Product

Ensure your team knows for what product they are providing customer service by having them use the product early and often. This can be a step added to the training process. It can also be implemented by giving your employees access to the product for their own personal use. This article on How to Build Product Knowledge talks about uncovering customer needs through this knowledge.

62% of customers feel a customer service representative’s knowledge was the most important factor in their interaction.

American Express

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Clear Communication Skills13

The ability to communicate clearly is crucial in the customer service space. You should be able to solve customer problems efficiently and make them feel valued. If you’re worried that there may be confusion during an interaction, take extra time to ensure they get your point.

Avoid confusing the customer by keeping your discussions simple. Always make sure your communication is clear. Always make sure you’re communicating the value of your product and the fact that you want their business!

  • Keep communications simple
  • Make sure important points are clear
  • Use your words to communicate value

How to Improve Communication Skills

Improving communication skills can be done many different ways. A great place to start is to encourage your team to listen to one of these many podcasts on communication. Then, practice makes perfect. Either have your team test their skills on each other or simply use what they’ve learned in their customer interactions.

64% of people find customer experience more important than price when they are making a purchase.

Gartner

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two people talking on the phone

Patience14

One of the hallmark traits of an exceptional customer service professional is patience. Not only do you have to remain tolerant while dealing with frustrating situations, but you have to keep a level head. All this while figuring out how you are going to best solve the customer’s concern.

Great service depends on your ability to understand the customer's needs and how calm you can remain while attending to them. Showing patience shouldn’t mean that you work slowly. It means that you take the time to really think through each situation. You can then provide the best possible answer.

employee remaining calm
  • Remain tolerant in the face of frustration
  • Take the time to fully understand the customer’s situation
  • Provide the best advice possible

How to Improve Patience

Patience really boils down to decreasing stress and increasing mindfulness. You can encourage patience training within your team by sharing some of these tactics in everyday life. Just remembering to slow down can have a massive impact!

65% of buyers claim that positive experiences are more influential than advertising.

Temkin Group

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Ability to Spin15

for the Positive

When a customer contacts you with a problem, one of the best things you can do is remain positive. Attitude is contagious, so it’s likely your upbeat demeanor will impact your customer’s experience. We’re not implying that you should lack empathy for your customers — simply use positive language to shed light on the situation.

You can use positive language to steer the conversation in the right direction. For example, instead of saying, “We can’t do that for you,” you can say something along the lines of, “We will gladly do that for you as soon as we’re able to”.

  • Remain upbeat while empathizing with your customer
  • Use positive language to steer the conversation
  • Thank customers for their time and patience

How to Find a Positive Spin

Turning a negative spin into a positive one involves reframing and rephrasing the situation. You may need to teach your team to tap into their sales skills and refine conversations. Do this by using the seven Rs explained in this Hubspot article. They can all be used in customer service as well!

Nearly 7 out of 10 of customers said that an upbeat representative was key to their recent positive service experiences.

American Express

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person spinning a wheel of colors

Self-Control16

Customers can be downright unpredictable. They are often confused or frustrated and can take it out on you. As a customer service professional, you need to remain composed, helpful and kind no matter who you’re dealing with.

Self-control might be one of the most important customer service skills. Unfortunately, losing your temper or otherwise treating a customer poorly is completely unacceptable. Since customers have the ability to write online reviews with the click of a button, any negative feedback can really hurt you and the company! Maintaining composure at all times can keep customer opinions positive.

employee choosing to remain calm versus angry
  • Treat confused or frustrated customers professionally
  • Be helpful and kind in the face of adversity
  • Never lose your temper or mistreat a customer

How to Improve Self-Control

Self-control is difficult enough to master on your own, much less teach to a team. However, it’s incredibly important when interacting with customers. We recommend having your team listen to this podcast featuring David Desento. It teaches how to harness self control to improve grit.

More than half of customers will never do business with a company again after one negative experience.

New Voice Media

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Responsibility17

The easiest way for a customer service team to avoid frustrated customers is to take responsibility for the answers they provide. While the problem was likely not caused by you (or anyone on your team), you are the one who needs to solve it.

Taking responsibility for a situation means taking the problem into your own hands and solving it. You should avoid transferring or escalating an issue if at all possible and work toward a resolution with sympathy. If your customers really feel like you’re owning the situation, they’re much more likely to leave satisfied.can’t do that for you,” you can say something along the lines of, “We will gladly do that for you as soon as we’re able to”.

  • Take ownership in finding a solution
  • Avoid transfers or escalations
  • Solve any problems with efficiency and sympathy

How to Foster a Sense of Responsibility

Creating a culture of responsibility is essential for a successful workplace. By encouraging your team members to step up and take ownership of their work, you will develop better habits and happier customers. This course on How to Develop and Train for Soft Skills in the Workplace can help you learn how to help your employees step up.

Close to 30% of consumers feel that having a customer service agent take ownership of an issue (and avoiding transferring) is one of the most crucial customer service skills.

American Express

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person carrying a bag filled with questions

Active Listening18

It can be easy to forget that there is a real person behind every customer service interaction. These people want to feel heard and understood — one of the best ways you can do this is through active listening.

Active listening means you are internalizing everything your customer wants and says. You need to be 100% present and provide solutions when applicable. This means asking lots of follow-up questions and engaging in dialogue so that your customer feels truly heard. Take the time to really understand the issue and your customers will thank you!

employee listening carefully
  • Really listen to what your customers say
  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Engage in dialogue so that customers feel heard

How to Improve Your Listening Skills

One of the most important skills on this list to develop, the art of active listening can be practiced a number of ways. There are online courses you and your team can take, skills to practice and podcasts you can share. Make sure your team views active listening as a priority.

A lack of proper communication is the cause of 60% of business problems.

allBusiness

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Self-Improvement19

A willingness to improve is a skill needed for almost any job, and customer service is no exception. New technologies emerge all the time, industries evolve and customer expectations change. You need to be able to keep up!

Through constant learning and growing, you can ensure that you are always able to serve your customers the best way possible. It can be tempting to slide into a routine in customer service, but staying motivated is essential.

  • Stay informed on new technologies
  • Keep learning about your industry
  • Evolve with your customers

How to Encourage Self Improvement

One great way many companies encourage self improvement in the workplace is by offering a continued learning stipend. They may also send their employees to conferences. Especially in a quickly changing landscape, like technology, making sure your team stays up to date is essential. Here’s a list of fee and cheap personal development resources!

73% of companies that have built up to a customer experience maturity level of “above average” also perform better financially than their competitors.

Temkin Group

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person fixing gears on their head

Ability to Admit20

When You Don't Know

These days, customers are able to look up many of their problems with a simple Internet search. Inevitably, you’re going to come in contact with a customer who knows more about a problem than you do. The best thing to do in this situation is to just admit that you don’t know the answer (and seek it out)!

Honesty is always the best policy and most people can tell when a customer service rep gets flustered. Simply let the customer know that you aren’t sure about the answer, but that you’re committed to finding it. Then ask someone or look up the answer.

employee with question marks over their head
  • If you don’t know an answer, it’s OK to tell your customer
  • Ensure they know you are committed to finding the answer
  • Ask a coworker or manager, or look up the problem yourself

How to Encourage Asking Questions

When employees are afraid to ask questions they are unlikely to admit when they don’t know how to solve a problem. This means that they are unlikely to find the answer. Encourage them to ask questions when they don’t know the answer to a problem and your customers will thank you. This course on Problem Solving and Troubleshooting can help them ask the right questions, too.

Over two thirds of customer service interactions can be solved through communications between core customers on a well-placed online forum.

Kolsky

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Thick Skin21

Customers would rather do almost anything besides talk to a customer service representative. This can make for some negative interactions. Often customers are experiencing problems, confusion or frustration. They’ll often let that impact their behavior.

You might have to deal with insults, anger or even personal attacks. You should be able to handle these with grace. Coming up with healthy ways to deflect a customer’s anger and deal with the potential resulting feelings is crucial for success in customer service.

  • Handle anger with grace and sympathy
  • Deflect insults with positive solutions
  • Find healthy ways to deal with your own feelings after the fact

How to Develop a Thick Skin

Thick skin is something that many people are born with, but it can also be developed. The ability to accept criticism or anger, make the other person feel heard and deal with the feelings this caused can be practiced and refined. This lesson on How to Develop a Thicker Skin can be helpful as well.

When asked if they’d rather clean a toilet than speak with customer service, nearly 40% of customers chose the toilet.

Aspect

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employee holding a metal shield while talking on the phone

Conflict Resolution22

Conflict is inevitable in almost every sort of business, but especially in the customer service industry. If mismanaged or ignored, conflict can become a major issue. Customer concerns need to be adequately addressed and fixed every time.

This is where conflict resolution comes into play. Easily avoid and resolve conflict by allowing your customers to talk. Show them that you care, using a calm and empathetic tone, and avoid any negative reactions. that you’re committed to finding it. Then ask someone or look up the answer.

employee showing the peace sign
  • Allow your customers to state their entire issue before offering help
  • Use empathetic statements to show you understand and care
  • Focus on constructive solutions to the issues

How to Practice Conflict Resolution

There are several conflict resolution tactics that can be used to deliver great customer service. Making sure your team knows and uses these is very important. Aside from teaching conflict resolution basics, this book lists fun exercises you can perform with your team to practice!

24% of customers say that the most satisfying aspect of customer service is having their problem resolved on first contact.

Microsoft

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Decision-Making23

In order to solve customer problems, you must master decision making. Any time a customer encounters an issue or has a question outside the norm you will need to decide the best course of action.

Getting to the root of an issue and then deciding how to deal with it is important. Are you able to solve the problem? Should you escalate the issue? How can you treat this customer to make them feel satisfied? These are all decisions customer service personnel need to consider. The more decisive you are when faced with these challenges, the better!

  • Listen to customers and consider possible resolutions
  • Decide which outcome will be the most helpful and efficient
  • Figure out if you can help the customer or if you need to escalate the issue

How to Improve Decision-Making

Help your team make great decisions by first ensuring they know the ins and outs of the product. They should also know the customers they are serving. Once they are knowledgeable, practice effective decision making. Do this by either taking a course or role playing with different possible situations.

A third of consumers say they’d still recommend a brand that offered a “quick but ineffective response” while only 17% who said the same for a “slow but effective solution”.

NM Incite

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a person deciding between two directions

Creativity24

A positive attitude and knowledge of your product won’t always solve your customer’s issues. Sometimes you need to get creative! Whether it means actively listening to your customers and coming up with innovative solutions or finding an answer to an out-of-the-box question, creativity is important.

Another way to make a lasting impression on your customers is to find unconventional ways to delight them. For example, Capital One got wind that a customer couldn’t log onto their client portal because of a broken keyboard. They sent him a brand new one with a handwritten note, sparking all sorts of positivity!

person with lightbulb above their heard
  • Concentrate and absorb all of the information about an issue
  • Use your knowledge to come up with creative solutions
  • Show your customers you care in creative ways

How to Improve Creativity

Creativity is something many people are born with, but it can also be coaxed out. Encourage creative thinking by training staff in innovative techniques and being supportive of them. The book Imagine by Jonah Lehrer is another great resource. It talks about how to foster creativity in the workplace.

64% of customers do not fully trust the information they receive from customer service representatives, even if it is the right answer.

Kolsky

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Responsiveness25

Coming up with a timely and effective solution to a customer inquiry is one of the most important factors when it comes to customer service. This means that responsiveness is key. These days, customers will reach out via various channels — through social media or chat, by phone or your call center software. Ensure a timely acknowledgement by making sure you are aware of their communication and responding quickly.

One way to do this is to make sure all of your technology is up to date and check your messages regularly. Another is to understand that you are often the only point of contact your customers have, so a speedy response is crucial.

  • Update all communication software
  • Take pride in providing timely responses
  • Empathize with your customer and keep communication lines open

How to Improve Responsiveness

Teach your team to respond in a timely manner to all customers so that they feel safe in your team’s hands. This could come down to hiring the right people or ensuring your people have access to the best technology. You can also teach your team about phone and email etiquette so that they are aware of appropriate response times.

Over 10% of customers in the U.S. rate a lack of speed of responsiveness as their number one frustration.

Statista

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employee running toward a question mark

What Makes a Good Customer Experience?

The bottom line is that consumers desire ease of use.

In large part, this means defraying the stress that comes from contacting a customer service representative.

After all, most customers are savvy. They have likely already tried a few methods to solve their issue before reaching out.

If they encounter resistance at this point, they are likely to reject the company and take business elsewhere. Most companies are putting a premium on customer service. Your customers will find a stellar experience at a competitor if your company does not offer one.

With that in mind, ensure your team has the right skill set to provide excellent customer service. Tenacity, persuasion and empathy also play a large roll. That way, representatives can engage your audience with their knowledge of the product.

The person responding to these questions must be goal-oriented. They must be emotionally intelligent. Being friendly and attentive, as well as exhibiting a calm demeanor is important.

When all else fails, acting skills may need to come into play. If statistics are to be believed, it is more important for that person to be empathetic and honest than it is for them to fix a problem immediately.

Customers prize connection and want to feel heard. This means customer service skills are some of the most important.

Well-trained representatives have more focus on customer retention. This can deepen relationships and will ensure the continued success of your company.

employee running toward a question mark

Contact an Amazing Service
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(800) 799-0600

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Contact an Amazing Service
Sales Expert
(800) 799-0600

See how Nextiva will transform
the way you communicate.