Important Skills for Customer Service Jobs

customer service woman with headset
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A company that relies on customers or clients to keep it in business will want to know what customer service experience and skills you have to offer. Before you fill out a job application, research the company and the position you are applying for.

Contrary to popular belief, giving good customer service does not require being an enthusiastic people-person, though that can help. Some types of customer-facing jobs do require an outgoing personality, but others do not. An honest desire to help other people is probably the one indispensable characteristic. Without that drive to help people, you may be able to act the part, but you will not enjoy it.

What are Customer Service Skills?

There is hardly a job description that doesn’t demand a certain level of customer service.

Any time an employee must engage a customer and properly represent the organization, they are exercising customer service skills.

While most commonly associated with call centers, companies typically devote an entire department to managing customer complaints or feedback. However, anyone is a sales or hospitality role must also exercise high levels of customer service skills.

Examples of Customer Service Skills

© The Balance, 2018

Communication

Learn how to communicate clearly and honestly, and how to anticipate what the customer needs to know. If there is a surcharge, or a product warning, or another rack with a better selection in aisle 4, don’t neglect to mention it simply because the customer didn’t know to ask.

The other half of communication is receptivity; customers will tell you what they need. Or, they may betray “hidden” needs by their words that you are able to identify and better serve them. Be sure you know how to listen.

Empathy

Empathy is crucial for customer service workers. Not everybody wants the same thing in the same situation, so for empathy to be effective, you will have to keep an open mind and carefully observe others’ signals.

Product Knowledge

Product knowledge is perhaps one of the most underrated customer service skills, and unfortunately, the one most lacking in the majority of retail positions. All the willingness to listen or to help won’t do much good if you can’t actually answer the customer's question or help solve their problem.

Try your employer’s products, learn about its services, and when you get a question you can’t answer, go do some research.

  • Memory
  • Research
  • Student Mentality
  • Moderate Sales
  • Initiative
  • Proactive

Diligence

Diligence is the one customer service skill companies seem most likely to neglect, yet without it, service is just a show. Diligence means honoring deadlines, keeping promises, and maintaining standards.

  • Attention to Detail
  • Detail Oriented
  • Quality Assurance
  • Prioritization
  • Adaptability

Personable

And finally, politeness, cheerfulness, and tact are the skills everyone associates with great customer service. These skills come easier to some people than others, but they can be learned and do improve with practice.

  • Patience
  • People Oriented
  • Positivity
  • Presentation
  • Tact
  • Confidence
  • Stress Tolerance

More Customer Service Skills

Sample Resumes and Cover Letters

Review examples of resumes and cover letters for customer service jobs.

Key Takeaways

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: Become familiar with what the company is seeking and brainstorm a list of customer service skills you have that pertain specifically to the job for which you're applying.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: Try to be specific when mentioning the skills you can bring to the position in your cover letter and, if possible, have real-life examples you can share with employers during interviews.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: During your interview, you should highlight the customer service experience and skills you can offer to the company.