What makes a good customer service professional?

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Written by Johnson Wong on 13 March 2019 in Features

Johnson Wong tells TJ what makes a good customer service professional.

Reading time: 3 minutes.

Innovations and disruptions are commonplace where the digital revolution has become the biggest game changer across industries, including service sectors such as retail, hospitality, and food and beverage. Customer service professionals need to build a positive mindset toward continuous learning.

They can adopt a growth mindset to embrace challenges and view them as opportunities for self-development. With a growth mindset, customer service professionals can develop the following skills to ‘wow’ the customer with whom they interact.

Clarity in communication

The ability to communicate with clarity, both verbally and in writing, is essential in customer service, especially when speaking to someone who has a different native language. Responses to customer requests should be made clear, concise and in a natural tone of voice. Here are some pointers that make communication clearer:

  1. Present the most important information first.
  2. Use a chronological order when presenting the information and any actionable steps
  3. A simple 3 ‘S’ approach when crafting your message: State your point, Support the point with example or explanation, and Summarise. Have a conclusion with a call to action.
  4. Keep it simple and leave nothing to doubt.
  5. Avoid distractions. Focus on the conversation with the customer.

Ability to use positive language

The ability to make minor changes in one’s conversational patterns can go a long way in creating a delighting customer experience. When attending to customers’ problems, the use of positive language takes the stress away from the situation. Words can be powerful, and they can create trusting relationships with customers. Some examples:

  • Instead of saying 'I’m busy right now', say 'I’ll be with you in just a moment.'
  • Instead of saying 'You don’t understand..., say 'Please allow me to explain...'
  • Phrases like 'Great question, I’ll find that out for you!' and 'I love to understand more about...' can keep the customer in the present moment.

Digital literacy

Customer service professionals need to develop not only competencies that deal with everyday digital transactions (online requests, fulfillment issues, service feedback, etc.) but also skills in the following areas:

  • Social media, which gives information about consumer behaviours and industry trends
  • Digital tools that support them to be more productive when serving customers
  • Cybersecurity basics, so they can safeguard customer and corporate information

Ability to empathise

Empathy is the ability to understand how the customer is feeling, what they are going through and where they are coming from. When listening to customers, the service professional sees the problem through customers’ perspective and visualises how it makes them feel.

This is crucial in customer service because the customer will be more receptive if they feel understood by the service professional. This can also help to de-escalate a conflict with the customer and create a more pleasant interaction.

A good customer service professional is able to empathise with the customers’ situation and win their trust because they feel valued to have someone on their side.

Learning agility

Learning agility is the ability and willingness to learn from one’s experience and then apply that learning in a new situation. These collective practices allow customer service professionals to continually develop and use new methods for solving increasingly difficult problems at the front line of the business.

Online transaction platforms, mobile technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics are gaining prominence in organisations across service industries, and they are here to stay. Customer service professionals not only need to develop new skills continuously, but they also need to adopt a growth mindset and the willingness to take on new challenges to be successful in this digital age.


About the author

Johnson Wong is a learning strategist and director of Empower Training and Consultancy Pte Ltd.


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