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The Ultimate List Of Customer Service Skills That Managers Need To Master

The Ultimate List Of Customer Service Skills That Managers Need To Master
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Have you ever said, “I would like to speak with a manager?”

Most people have.

When a customer has a really bad experience, talking with a manager is the easiest way to get their needs met. So, managers deal with grievances that are too difficult for employees to solve.

They struggle with a full range of personalities, all of whom feel that they’ve been misguided, underserved, or genuinely ripped off by a business.

To de-escalate these situations, managers need to master a full toolkit of customer service skills. These 30 must-have competencies empower even the newest manager to resolve even the trickiest customer service dilemmas:

Patience

Patience is an acquired virtue — people need to practice it to hone the skill. It’s also the backbone of a successful customer service manager. With patience, you can help connect people to solutions without rushing them or the process.

Advanced Communication Skills

The basics won’t cut it when it comes to communication skills. Managers need to become adept experts at conveying an idea or concept in a way that resonates with people. To practice this skillset, use easy-to-understand language and bring sincerity to the conversation with a clear voice.

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Confidence

Managers are the ultimate decision makers in difficult situations. To have a positive impact, they need to feel confident in their choices. A wishy-washy approach sends a negative message to both staff members and customers.

Good Judgement

Sometimes, managers need to break their own rules for the good of the business. The best leaders use discretion, and approach each issue as a separate case. When making exceptions to company policy, always act out of integrity.

Negotiation

Sometimes a customer won’t take no for an answer. In these types of situations, managers need to negotiate between the needs of both their team and the client.

A Growth Mindset

According to Carol Dweck, developing a growth mindset — or the belief that through hard work, feedback, and good strategies you can improve — is the key to success at anything. Practice a growth mindset by seeing every customer service challenge as an opportunity to develop as a manager.

Active Listening

Most people only remember 25 to 50% of what they hear. But by actively paying attention to the message of customers and showing that you’re listening, you can increase your retention rate.

If your customer feels heard, they’re a lot more likely to drop their hostility or issue.

Humility

If managers think they already know everything, they can’t learn from or help a customer. Humility brings a different tone to the conversation, communicating acceptance and a willingness to learn from a customer.

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Ability to Problem Solve

Sometimes, there’s not a clear solution to a customer service quandary. Rather than using a cookie-cutter response, the best managers come up with creative solutions to unique problems. For great examples, look at companies like Nordstrom and Zappos, who are famous for innovating in their customer service.

A Cool Head

Flying off the handle doesn’t help anyone. Maintaining cool neutrality (and not taking anything personally) gives managers the bandwidth to address an issue head-on without creating a bigger mess.

Empathy

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings. Managers in every industry would benefit from putting themselves in the customer’s shoes in order to truly solve a problem.

Compassion

Despite its association with empathy, compassion is actually a different skill. It’s the desire to help relieve someone of their suffering. Practicing compassion at work brings a greater sense of purpose and dedication to customer service management as a vocation.

Conflict Resolution

Resolving conflicts starts with understanding. Do you really get the issue? Always mirror the exact words of customers back to them to make sure you’re hitting the mark. This kind of conflict resolution models the best behavior for employees too.

Technical Fluency

Customer service is a person-to-person activity that often takes place through advanced technology. Technical fluency with basic software programs is a necessary skill in the 21st-century customer service. Even a manager at a brick-and-mortar store may need to respond to a negative review on Yelp.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is undoubtedly a buzzword — and it’s an important one. It refers to bringing awareness to one’s own thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Mindfulness brings calm acknowledgment to any crisis and diffuses rather than adds to toxic emotions to a conversation.

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Stress Management

Customer service is inherently stressful. During stressful conversations, managers need to step out of “fight or flight” mode to reduce their own stress level and that of their employees.

Generosity

Managers benefit from practicing generosity with their customers. If they can solve an issue by going above-and-beyond, it’s worth the lost revenue to protect the company’s reputation.

Basic Psychology

If managers have a basic understanding of psychology, they’re more likely to accurately pinpoint the type of customer you’re dealing with. Empowered with this understanding, they can make sure to appeal to the customer’s distinct personality type.

Time Management

It’s important that businesses respond to and resolve complaints as fast as possible. For customers, time is everything. By effectively using their time, managers optimize the likelihood of a happy client.

Deep Product Knowledge

Managers should know their products even better than their staff members. This kind of product knowledge makes it easier to identify and fix problems ASAP.

Saying “I’m Sorry”

A lot of people say “I’m sorry” the wrong way. Rather than take responsibility, they make excuses and minimize the problem. When apologizing, managers should always offer a clear solution and promise to do better next time.

Positive Thinking

Managers set the precedent — not just for other staff members — but for customers too. By thinking positive and looking for solutions, they’re more likely to appease the needs of everyone.

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Work Ethic

Customer service requires an incredible work ethic. Once you have solved one issue, you’re managing the next one. A work ethic keeps managers going, even at the end of a long shift.

Awareness of Body Language

Let’s say you return soup at a restaurant because it’s cold. If the manager comes to your table and apologizes with a scowl on their face and their arms folded, you know they don’t mean it. Managers need to be aware of the messages non-verbal they send every day.

Tone of Voice

Just as with body language, your tone of voice can ruin every customer experience. Sounding petty, exasperated, or frustrated won’t add up to a resolution. Keep your voice calm, strong, and consistent.

Strong Boundaries

When faced with raised voices, name calling, and verbal threats, managers need to practice strong boundaries. Sometimes, this means severing a relationship with a client or even getting the authorities involved.

Accountability

Managers need to hold themselves accountable to the promises they make to customers. Do you have a return policy? Stick to it. Accountability also creates consistency, which are two hallmarks of outstanding customer service.

Appreciation for Feedback

Bad feedback from customers isn’t necessarily bad. It can help managers to make the necessary improvements, pointing out issues before they start to affect the bottom line. The best managers practice appreciation when it comes to receiving even the worst feedback.

The Willingness to Ask for Help

By knowing when to ask for help, managers ensure that they’re never overwhelmed by too many issues at once. Asking general managers, business owners, or even CEOs for their input reinforces positive decisions.

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Creating Closure

Managers need to end a customer service conversation when it’s over, especially when a client continues to harp on a now-resolved problem again and again. Ideally, managers finish an interaction once they have confirmed that the customer is satisfied with the resolution.

These 30 ultimate customer service skills enable managers to rise above any problem, no matter the severity of the predicament or the unique context at play. To offer an even stronger customer experience, spread these skills to your entire team. Share this list with your employees and incorporate the skills into onboarding and training programs.

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Nick Lucs

Digital Marketing Specialist

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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