Any experienced business owner knows that customer service is a central part of keeping your most valuable customers. But what customer service skills are the most important? When training your staff or assessing new hires, here are the 4 critical skills you will want to prioritize.
A Cool Head
The ability to keep calm allows your staff to deal gracefully with demanding guests. Employees with this skill can suffer discomfort without becoming unprofessional or flustered. They are also good at problem-solving and can typically reach a solution that helps the customer while still considering the interests of the business.
Sometimes, in customer service scenarios, there might be times when your employees have to use their best judgment to provide service to a guest. Oftentimes, these situations stick with people and have the power to endear them to your business. Here are some examples.
- Your cashier notices a family struggling to pay for their order. Should they offer a secret discount?
- Your salesperson notices that a customer is checking out a phone model that is more expensive but doesn’t fit their needs. Should they suggest a less expensive phone?
- One of the children who just purchased ice cream from your cart dropped it as they walked away. Should your cashier offer them a new cone for free?
In these situations, the employee might decide to make an exception to help the customer out. But the point of discretion is that your employee knows when to go above and beyond and when not to. The following scenarios are very similar in principle to the ones listed above but would likely qualify as situations where exceptions should not be made.
- Your cashier is checking out a rude customer demanding a discount. Should they offer a secret discount?
- Your salesperson is working with a customer who demands to be shown a particular phone model and no others. This model is more expensive and doesn’t fit their needs as well. Should they suggest a less expensive phone?
- One of the children who just purchased ice cream from your cart threw it at their friend as they walked away. Should your cashier offer them a new cone for free?
By ensuring that your employees know the difference between a situation that warrants breaking protocol and one that doesn’t, you will empower your staff to make the best possible decisions for your business.
Excellent Phone And Email Etiquette
Outstanding phone and email etiquette is a must for all of your staff, and you should train them regularly on the standards you expect them to maintain. For example, if you have a specific way you would like the phone answered, please let them know or write it down next to the phone so they can remember. Or, if you have a specific way you want them to structure their emails, give them a template for that as well. These tools will help your staff follow company protocol and build their communication skills.
Good Manners And A Positive Attitude
What customer service skills list would be complete without the basics? Without good manners and a positive attitude, none of the other skills will make much difference. What does it matter if your cashier stays calm under pressure if they can’t greet customers with a smile? Who cares if your floor manager can name you the chapter and verse of every item in your spring catalog but rolls their eyes when asked to look in the back for an item?
How To Hire Candidates With These Skills
There are several interview questions you can ask when assessing candidates to see what customer service skills they possess. Here are a few examples.
- “Please describe a time that you handled a difficult situation with a customer, colleague, or superior. Is there anything that you would do differently?”
- “What does your decision-making process generally look like while at work? How do you make tough calls when a manager isn’t available?”
- “Let’s say an angry customer is contacting us about receiving the wrong item in the mail. How would you answer the phone, and what would you say to the customer? How would you answer an email, and what would you say to the customer?”
- “Describe a time when you had to learn something new. What was your process like? Could you give me a brief overview of the subject?”
- “What customer service skills do you admire? How have you integrated those qualities into your professional style?”
By asking these questions, you will better understand whether candidates possess the above mentioned skills and what customer service skills they are proficient in.
How To Train Your Staff To Use These Skills
One of the best ways to train your staff on a variety of customer service skills is through role-playing. This exercise allows you to run through potential scenarios that might come up with your staff and make it clear how you want them to handle each one. We recommend making sure you take the time to integrate this training into your staff calendar at least once a quarter. By evaluating what customer service skills mean the most in your business and how you can build a workforce with those skills, you will set your business up for long-term success. After all, great customer service is one of the best ways to build long-term loyalty with your clients and encourage good word-of-mouth marketing. What could be better than that?