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10 Key Customer Service Skills & How To Develop Them

May 22, 2023

10 Key Customer Service Skills & How To Develop Them

Here’s a hard pill to swallow: even brands with the most genius or fantastic products on the market will have difficulty growing and succeeding if customer service is poor. In fact, 86% of customers will even pay more for a better customer experience, so consistently nailing your customer experience is crucial to staying competitive in a saturated market. When you invest in quality customer service and commit to making each customer feel valued by your brand, your business will thrive, and your customers will thank you with positive reviews, repeat purchases, and referrals to family and friends.

What Makes Customer Service Memorable In The E-Commerce Industry?

Providing excellent customer service isn’t just about generating revenue – it’s actually about focusing on the customer's needs. For instance, if a customer contacts your brand for help troubleshooting their new doorbell camera, your agents should work quickly to identify and resolve the issue before considering escalation or refunds. Taking the time to actively listen to the customer’s problem may help your agents extract useful information that could ultimately solve the problem at hand, and practicing empathy throughout the interaction will help the customer feel understood. When your agents can address customers’ issues, relate to their feelings, and (hopefully) solve their problems, they improve the quality of the experience and earn customer trust and loyalty. All in all, good customer service skills are essential for any agent looking to succeed in the E-Commerce industry.

The Top 10 Customer Service Skills That Your E-Commerce Brand’s Agents Must Have To Succeed

Though customer service must be a brand-wide effort, starting with your team of agents will give your brand a leg-up to improve customer satisfaction. After all, your agents are often the first personal interaction that customers have with your brand, and making sure they have the crucial skills for customer service that they need to solve issues, relate to customers, and close tickets will set everyone up for success. To help you hire more qualified agents for your brand or improve the quality of service from your existing team, check out the top 10 must-have customer service skills we’ve compiled for you below.

1. Problem-Solving

The ability to solve problems quickly is a must in customer service. When customers contact your team with an issue, they’re struggling to fix their problem independently and need an expert who can resolve it ASAP. Therefore, being able to quickly jump into a ticket and help the customer through troubleshooting, a refund/exchange, or a thorough explanation of a complication question will earn your brand more trust and likability. Problem-solving skills also often go hand-in-hand with being able to think on your feet. And, since 61% of consumers define an excellent customer support interaction as one with a quick resolution, combining these two skills to offer innovative solutions is huge for customer satisfaction.

2. Active Listening

Active listening is more than just about nodding your head along with a customer’s complaints. It’s really about:

  • listening for potential errors in the customer’s troubleshooting process that could ultimately solve their problem
  • asking them questions that offer more profound insight into the situation
  • acknowledging their complaints and validating their feelings
  • showing them you are paying attention to them

Think about it – there’s nothing more frustrating than explaining an issue to a customer service rep only to realize they haven’t been listening to the details, so you always want to ensure your customer knows you’re paying attention. Each customer deserves your brand’s time and care, and a great way to show this and resolve issues faster is to actively listen when they’re speaking.

3. Empathy

Empathy isn’t just a soft skill – it’s an absolute necessity that all customer service agents must have and practice with customers, especially considering that 64% of U.S. consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience. When customers reach out to customer service, they often feel frustrated, confused, or upset about a problem they are experiencing, and they want validation and help from a real person. Having empathetic agents who can understand and relate to the customer's emotions and concerns, offer personalized solutions based on customers’ needs, and diffuse negative emotions allows your brand a chance to truly shine amongst your competitors. Additionally, a better experience will inevitably lead to higher satisfaction and loyalty rates and benefit your brand in the long run.

4. Clear Communication Skills

In the world of E-Commerce, your agents must be able to communicate effectively through various customer service channels, including phone calls, email, live chat, and social media. Customers want quick and concise responses to their inquiries, and agents without the necessary communication skills to offer helpful answers may contribute to frustrated customers and potentially even lost sales. It can also make it difficult for another agent to revisit a ticket or attempt to solve the problem promptly if the notes within it need to be clarified. However, fast response and resolution times aren’t the only factors that matter to customers. When agents can provide clear and understandable answers without confusing jargon, it creates trust between the customer and your brand, leading to repeat business in the future.

5. Time Management

It’s rare for a customer service agent to handle just one ticket at a time, so time management and multitasking abilities are definitely skills that you want your agents to have.In fast-paced E-Commerce brands, there are typically high volumes of tickets coming in through various channels that your agents must be able to prioritize so they can respond to customers effectively. Poor time management reduces your team’s bandwidth by clogging up the support ticket queue, and delayed response times often contribute to frustrated customers and, therefore, missed opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. When agents can effectively and independently manage their time, they’ll help improve your brand’s reputation and increase sales and revenue.

6. Adaptability

Thinking on your toes doesn’t just apply to problem-solving skills. Adaptability is another must-have customer service skill that requires agents to think quickly and be open and flexible when hiccups occur. If your agents are hit one day with an unexpected request from a customer that doesn’t yet have a process or guideline, they must remain calm and handle the situation without appearing frantic or unsure. Confidence is critical when working with customers – the ability to address and resolve a complicated request with a smile goes a long way to improving customer satisfaction.

7. Willingness To Learn And Be Incorrect

It takes a strong and mature person to admit when they’re wrong or do not have the answer, and it shows humility when your agents can be honest about their mistakes and shortcomings. Let’s face it – no one can possibly be right all of the time. When your agents own up to an error or lack of knowledge on their issue, it shows the customer that they prioritize helping them more than they care about being right or knowing everything. This honesty improves customer satisfaction and fosters trust that can turn one-time customers into loyal ones.

8. Thick Skin

Working in the E-Commerce industry means we often face customers experiencing intense emotions like anger or frustration. In fact, you may not be surprised to learn that 56% of customers that had problems with a product fell into the “rage” category of being extremely upset or very upset – yikes, right? Therefore, customer service agents must have the emotional intelligence not to take expressions of frustration or anger from customers personally and instead handle the situation in front of them professionally. Let us be clear – we’re certainly not advocating for customer service representatives to tolerate verbal abuse from customers. However, letting your agents know you support them and training them to manage tense conversations will give them the confidence to de-escalate when necessary and turn a bad situation into a good one.

9. Product Knowledge

No matter what kinds of products your brand offers, your agents must know them like the back of their hands. Though it’s okay to not always have the answers, customers will contact your brand expecting to speak with someone with sufficient product knowledge to handle their issues or concerns. If an agent is thrown into the ticket queues before they’re ready or without ample training and knowledge of your products – particularly ones that are highly technical – your customers will lose trust in your brand and likely feel uncomfortable about making future purchases.

10. Writing Skills

In a fast-paced environment where nearly 40% of customers prefer live chat (compared to 29% who prefer email), agents must have excellent writing skills. Though most E-Commerce brands have documents and helpdesk software containing canned responses and templates, a fair amount of writing can still be involved in the job duties. From crafting emails and chat messages to developing public-facing social media responses, your agents must be able to write clear, concise answers that align with your brand voice, address and solve customers’ issues, and leave an overall positive impression.

Elevate Your Customer Experience With Qualified Agents Who Possess Key Customer Service Skills

It’s not easy to jump into the E-Commerce world without training or skills – we at TalentPop know that better than anyone.That’s why our agents are trained in top E-Commerce tools and software like Shopify and Gorgias and equipped with key skills needed in customer service to help elevate your brand’s customer experience. If you’re considering outsourcing customer service this year to alleviate strain on your internal team and improve your customer satisfaction rates, choose the brand that has helped top E-Commerce brands like JAXXON, Art of Tea, and The USB Lighter Company perfect their customer service strategies. Schedule a call with our team today to get started and learn more about the thorough training processes that will help our dedicated agents best serve your brand.

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