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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

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.

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 September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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