Customer Service Skills List and Examples

customer service woman with headset
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Good customer service skills are essential for many different types of jobs. You may be face to face in a retail setting, communicating over the phone in a call center or greeting customers or patients at a front desk.  Whatever the position, customer service skills are critical if you are applying for a customer-focused position or are looking to be hired at any company dedicated to customer experience and engagement.

Check to See What the Employer is Looking For

A company that relies on customers or clients to keep them in business will look highly on the customer service experience and skills you have to offer.  Before you fill out a job application, write your resume or walk into the interview room, research the company and the position you are applying for. The skills an employer will view as an asset can vary from job to job.

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. 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.

Focus on Your Strongest Skills

During your interview, you should highlight the customer service experience and skills you can offer to the company.  Don’t hesitate to mention your attention to detail or your ability to stay positive when faced with a challenge, because that is what the interviewer wants to hear.  They will be asking themselves, “Is this someone we want to represent our company?”

The opportunity to talk about your customer service skills may also arise if you are asked how you would handle certain situations with a client or coworker.   Keep in mind that in addition to working with customers, you may also be working with a group of colleagues.  Strong customer service skills can help you be an asset to the team.  It's important to be sure the interviewer knows you will be a team player.  Think about positive and negative experiences you have had working with both clients and coworkers.

  A question about either one of those situations may come up.

How to Use Skills Lists

Skills lists in general are tools you can use to help craft your application materials before you choose a specific position. Once you get ready to apply, you will have to read the job description carefully and research your prospective employer thoroughly so you can fine-tune your application materials for that specific job - required skills vary, even between very similar positions.

A customer service skills list is a little different. A job description might mention “strong customer service skills,” among other requirements, without actually listing what those customer service skills are. This list serves to clarify and expand on those lists.

You may find that some skills you didn’t think of as relating to customer service turn out to be critical. You might learn you are better at customer service than you thought you were.

Examples of Customer Service Skills

Contrary to popular belief, giving good customer service does not require being an enthusiastic people-person, though it does 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, you may be able to act the part, but you will not enjoy it.

Clear, Honest Communication
Say what you will do and do what you say. If the product will take 12 weeks to ship, don’t promise it in four. Customers forgive you for not having what they need today, and may return tomorrow. They will never forgive you for wasting their time.

Beyond honesty, learn how to communicate clearly 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. Listen.

Empathy and Compassion
Empathy is the ability to imagine being someone else. If you were the customer, what would you want? Bear in mind that people differ, and not everybody wants the same thing in the same situation, so for your empathy to be effective, you will have to keep an open mind and carefully observe others’ signals.

Empathy doesn’t just make you more effective at customer service, it also keeps you sane by allowing you to identify with your customers instead of being irritated or bored by them. Empathy reminds you that the crying baby in your check-out line is a human being upset by something, not a bundle of noise.

Product Knowledge
All the willingness to listen or to help won’t do much good if you can’t actually answer the question, or handle the problem. Try your employer’s products, learn about its services, and when you get a question you can’t answer, go do some research.

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. If you find you cannot honor a deadline for whatever reason, contact your customer before the deadline and say so. Do not wait for the customer to confront you about being late. If the item in the customer’s hand is damaged and the customer doesn’t notice, don’t let them pay full price.

Be trustworthy.

Politeness, Cheerfulness, and Tact
Politeness, cheerfulness, and tact are the skills everyone associates with customer service. Alone, they don’t do much good and can even be counterproductive, but without them you won’t get a chance to be honest, diligent, empathetic, or knowledgeable. These skills come easier to some people than others, but they can be learned and do improve with practice.

List of Customer Service Skills

Here's a list of customer service skills for resumes, cover letters, job applications and interviews. Required skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

More Customer Service Skills: Top 10 Soft Skills for Customer Service Jobs