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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 October 8, 2020

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

What do you need to do to learn how to succeed in business? Here’re 10 important skills that entrepreneurs need to become successful.

1. Digital Savviness

As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, whether by utilizing cloud applications, organizing websites using content management systems, or collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

How to Develop This Skill

For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will slowly but surely garner more traffic.

2. Financial Forecasting

Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business, so make this skill a priority when learning how to succeed in business.

Forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done.

However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

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How to Develop This Skill

Generally, it’s easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It’s a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how close your operations are to what you have forecasted.

Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

3. Video Production Skills

The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, after 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5].

With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

How to Develop This Skill

Some ways to get started using videos for your business would be:

  • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
  • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
  • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

As far as you get into achieving endeavors on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place, even when your focus is learning how to succeed in business.

Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout.

How to Develop This Skill

Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly.

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5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

How to Develop This Skill

Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it aimed at consumers tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

Solidify your place with your business’ advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region or unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that is more viable than others.

6. Honing Pitches to Investors

Stand out in a broad mix of entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch. Make this a focus if you want to learn how to succeed in business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression.

How to Develop This Skill

Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition[8].

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Define your personal brand to succeed in business.

    Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned with these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction.  By knowing what makes your target customers tick, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

    8. Automating to Your Advantage

    The need for efficiency is often a general problem new businesses aim to resolve. As you’re learning how to succeed in business, assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to inspire the need for it.

    Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

    9. Managing Millennials

    Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

    In leaner, small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

    Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[9]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised, and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing T-shirts to work.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

    A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

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    Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

    Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates, but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

    Offer Constructive Feedback

    Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

    Being constructive with feedback ensures that you don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

    10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

    When learning how to succeed in business, instead of proposing a model that’s disruptive to an industry, build connections with other companies that serve the same target customers, as long as they provide a different service.

    By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously.

    Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

    As the African proverb goes:

    “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

    Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

    More on How to Succeed in Business

    Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

    Reference

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