What are customer service skills and why are they important?

Customer service skills are a valuable addition to your resume, whether you're looking for a job in customer service or you want to emphasize your expertise in a different type of position that involves face time with clients.

Customer service skills are those essential capabilities that make you well equipped to handle one-on-one interactions with clients. There are customer service roles in nearly every industry and many different types of customer service skills that you can highlight on your resume. Go into as much detail as possible to demonstrate the depth of your customer service competencies by emphasizing your relevant experience in the following areas.

What are customer service skills?

Communication Skills

Customer service professionals are tasked primarily with communicating effectively with customers. This can take many forms and may occur via telephone conversations, emails, live interactions, or online chat. Communication is at the core of any customer service skill set. You must demonstrate attentiveness and critical listening skills that allow you to understand the customers' problems, even when they're not skilled at explaining themselves well.

Improve your communication skills by:

  • Practicing positive language skills that allow you to frame your response in the best light.
  • Honing your persuasive skills by learning to find common ground and create effective arguments.
  • Simplifying your language and messages to make your explanations as understandable as possible for any type of client ask coworkers or friends to help analyze your approach to complex topics.

Problem-Solving Skills

Problem solving is an integral part of any customer service position. You must be skilled at analytical thinking and evaluation, which will help you identify and understand the issue at hand. You'll need to utilize creativity and a bit of innovation to come up with a smart solution. Decision making is crucial here, as well. You can't successfully solve problems unless you have the dedication to follow through with your chosen strategy.

Hone your problem-solving skills by:

  • Keeping a notebook for jotting down fresh ideas and innovative approaches to everyday issues.
  • Working on puzzles or games that encourage critical thinking, such as Sudoku.
  • Tracking your attempts and analyzing the results providing measurable proof of your problem-solving successes is the best way to highlight problem-solving skills on your resume.

Interpersonal Skills

Customer service can take many forms, from resolving clear-cut technical issues to assisting a customer who feels upset that the apparel they purchased online isn't the color they expected. Regardless of the problem, you'll find that empathy is an invaluable skill. Contrary to popular belief, empathy doesn't mean feeling the same way as another. Rather, it simply indicates that you can identify and understand how another is feeling. Respect goes together with empathy and shows your customers that you care about where they're coming from.

You can work on your interpersonal skills by:

  • Taking the Emotional Intelligence quiz from Berkeley and identifying your empathic shortfalls.
  • Practicing meditation to increase your awareness both internally and externally.
  • Taking an acting class to force you to step into different mindsets and evaluate how others might respond to something.

Professionalism

As the name suggests, all customer service skills involve direct contact with your customers. This requires the utmost in professionalism. Employers look for customer service professionals who can demonstrate patience and self-control, even in the face of an angry customer or challenging situation. Flexibility is a key skill that will enable you to react politely to a variety of situations, even when they deviate sharply from your standard script. Positivity is an essential component here, and one that you should show in any circumstance.

Enhance your professionalism with strategies such as:

  • Updating your office wardrobe — even if your customers don't see you to demonstrate impeccable grooming and a neat, businesslike appearance.
  • Taking a public speaking course to help hone your professional speaking skills so you can express yourself clearly and appropriately in the workplace.
  • Developing anger management skills that help you diffuse tension and deal with internal frustration and irritation in challenging situations.

Technical Skills and Knowledge

The necessary technical skills will vary with each customer service position, but it's important for all customer service professionals to be well-versed in the systems used to communicate with customers. This may include data entry and call system skills. You should also obtain an extensive product knowledge for everything available from your company.

If you're applying for a customer service position with a new business, take the time to research their offerings extensively in preparation for the interview process. This is a great way to demonstrate your dedication to the job and impress the hiring manager.

Improve your technical skills by:

  • Pursuing continuing education or certification in relevant systems like customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
  • Educating yourself extensively on products and services available in your industry by following trade publications and blogs.
  • Practicing your typing and transcription skills to minimize errors and increase your speed.

Building a Customer Service Resume

With these key skill sets in mind, you can begin building a strong customer service resume that will demonstrate your aptitude for this type of profession. Customer service skills don't apply exclusively to jobs with "customer service" in the title. Keep in mind that these skills are relevant to any position where you have extensive contact with the customer. This includes:

If you're applying for a job where you will be front and center interacting with customers, make sure your customer service capabilities are highlighted on your resume. Don't simply state that you possess "customer service skills." Use the above skill sets as guidelines for which accomplishments and previous job responsibilities are most relevant to the job you seek. Be sure to clearly demonstrate how your previous education and employment have given you a strong background in customer service.

Featuring these customer service skills on your resume will give you a distinct edge in any career that involves direct client interaction. Make sure you showcase these capabilities properly for the best chance of success in your job search.