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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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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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