Must-have Customer Service Skills

Must-have Customer Service Skills

Irate customers can ruin your day. Do you have what it takes to diffuse a bad situation?  Source: Lara604, cc-by, via Flickr

If you've worked in customer service, you already know the ropes. It can be a tough job and you might catch a lot of flak from customer complaints. You've dealt with the unhappy customers, people looking to get freebies, and, of course there are always awesome customers too.

Your job is to provide service with a smile. This sounds like a piece of cake, but sometimes you can be working with a pushy customer, a cash register that's near the end of it's road, and a line that extends 'til the end of time. It can get really difficult, but trust me, there are rewards to it as well. I know, I've been there.

Dealing with less than satisfied customers can be a tough job. So, how do you deal with those irate customers? Here are some tips to keep in mind so that you can rock at your job!

What Does It Take to Work in Customer Service?

Businesses rely on you to work directly with customers. You might be a checkout clerk, work on the sales floor, or work at the customer service desk. Here's what it takes to work in customer service:

  • A people person who can diffuse tense situations - You might be the person that customers go to when they have a complaint. If you're working at the customer service desk, this is a given. Folks will flock to you if they're not happy with a product.
  • Selling extra services - I used to have to sell these "purchase protection plans" which is essentially insurance in the case that an item breaks. I never bought those protection plans and personally think they're a waste of money. However, you have to "believe" in these extras -- or at least convince customers that you do. Would you like me to supersize that?
  • The ability to work in an ever-changing environment - The turnover rate can be high, even with management. Policies can quickly change, coworkers will come and go. You'll meet customers with strange questions and different attitudes. However, with this ever-changing environment, you could see a promotion very quickly... if you're a hard worker and stick with it.
  • You can work within certain guidelines - There are a lot of rules! Some are obvious, but I've come across some dumb rules while working in customer service. Some managers love company rules and some won't want to give you a good review if you're a stickler. Know the guidelines and know your managers.

Source: jshj, cc-by, via Flickr

Tips For Dealing with Angry Customers

  • Let them talk - Sometimes a customer might just need to vent. Let them know you're listening and take note of any helpful information they give you. Once they've wound down, you can start working on a solution.
  • Let them know you understand their problem - Ask questions, reiterate points they make, so they know you're working hard to figure out how to meet their needs.
  • Be ready to field unexpected questions - Make sure you're actually able to help your customer. If they have a question, you're not sure you can answer: be honest. The customer might be willing to work it through with you. If it's way above your head, then pass it off to someone who can help. As a customer, I would rather someone say, "I don't know, let me get someone who can help," than someone who lies to get me to go away.

Is Customer Service For You?

Customer service is great if you like helping with people and work well in situations where, well, anything can happen. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you enjoy working with people?
  • Do you like selling products?
  • Could you handle an angry customer?
  • Could you put up with swing shifts?

Most large companies understand the importance of having a customer service department, so customer service representatives are always in demand. This is a great field whether you want to climb up the career ladder or you just need a cash flow for right now.

So are you cut out for a job in customer service?

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