The Most Important Skills In Customer Support

The CloudApp Team

If you've been a regular reader of the CloudApp blog, you're already aware that we believe truly great customer service is the holy grail of successfully running a business.  Providing thoughtful and thorough service, however, is not always easy.

And while the search for great customer service skills and abilities is a more recent endeavor, many support and success managers would argue it can be pretty elusive. No matter how many customer service skill assessment surveys you send out, it can be challenging to find exactly what you think you're looking for. Thankfully, organizations have been researching customer service satisfaction for years, and we've condensed some of those findings here.

Without further adieu, here are the top support skills your team needs to provide your customers a great experience:

1. A pretty thick skin

It might surprise you that we put this skill first on our list. It might not even inherently seem like a skill. But given the nature of client-facing roles, specifically ones often rooted in dealing with issues related to your product or service, having a thick skin and not taking customer frustrations personally is crucial. Your reps are on the front lines of your company. Make sure they know you support them and foster an environment where it’s okay to to ask for help if a situation gets sticky.

2. Patience

When being shouted at, spoken down to, or even at times directly insulted, there are times it can be a bit draining, nerve-wrecking, or flat-out exhausting to have to pick up the phone. But, keeping your cool is critical to great customer service.

According to a study at the University of Toronto, impatience makes doing hard things (like talking down an irate customer), even harder. It also can even affect the quality of life of your reps. Hiring people who have a naturally calm demeanor and are inherently patient is a major key to providing consistent customer support.

3. The ability to empathize

No list of good customer service skills is complete without empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotions and to meaningfully understand their point of view. A significant percentage of a customer's experience is about how they feel they were treated. It’s not only about whether the issue was technically solved or if there was a refund, but about how you made the customer feel along the journey. An empathetic experience is a memorable one.

4. Active listening

When training employees, its a good idea to check in on how your reps listen, and if its effective. Listening is different than hearing, and has nothing to do with the volume of your headset. Taking the time to hear a customer out, comprehend their issue and how it pertains to them, really makes a customer feel heard. Often, simply rephrasing a problem in your own words can convey to the customer that you care about their problem and instills confident that you'll do everything in your power to help solve it.

5. Ability to admit when they don't have the answer

Customers generally attempt to solve their own issues before contacting your reps. Let's face it, no one's reaching out to support if they don't have to.

If your help desk or FAQ page can't solve the issue, users will eventually call your company, send an email, or reach out via social media. There are times where a rep might be new and a rather complex issue presents itself in their first few weeks, or a customer might just happen to have done a ton of research and know more than a particular rep. While it may feel a bit embarrassing, it's always infinitely better to admit you need to ask someone else a question or check out a research than giving inaccurate information or getting flustered. Encourage your reps to respectfully admit when they don’t know something or are wrong, and offer to find the answer.

6. Time management

We could all use more time at work. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty limited resource, especially in the world of support. Which is why effectively staying on schedule and managing your time is crucial.

It can be tempting to let the phone ring a few extra times or an email sit in the inbox a little longer. But doing so is not good for your customer relationships or your reputation as a service. Put a customer on the back-burner, even for a few minutes, and it may cost your company their

Your support and success teams should absolutely be making quick and efficient response times a priority. Streamline systems, use software tools (like CloudApp!!) so updating customer information and reporting is quick and easy. And make sure your reps have plenty of time in the day to complete their tasks, so they aren’t having to choose between helping clients and fulfilling their other responsibilities.

7. Clear communication skills

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many customers struggle to communicate with their customer service representative. Speaking to someone who isn't communicating effectively, whether it's general tone and vernacular, or bad habits like mumbling, can result in a really frustrating and unsatisfactory experience for your customers. Efficiently answering questions might just be the most important skill that a customer service rep can have. Your support team can be the most empathetic, professional, and positive people in the business, but if they can't communicate well with customers, it's pretty much in vain. Hire already strong communicators and commit to training them well in the art of communication.

8. Willingness to Improve

Honestly, this is an incredibly important skill for an employee in any department. So it goes doubly true for your support reps. Customer expectations are always changing and new technology to manage them is constantly emerging. Speaking to clients day in and day out means your support reps likely learn something new every day on the job. How do you motivate your employees to improve? Financial incentives might be a good place to start, but many people are more motivated by approachable management, having the right tools and resources for their jobs, and feeling connected to the team.

In Closing

Finding a customer support team member with all of these skills might seem difficult, but there’s no need to feel overwhelmed or defeated. Finding quality talent and training your staff doesn’t happen overnight, so take it one day at a time. Each skill builds on and complements the others; so focus on the customer service skills that can be improved the most and move on to each additional skill from there. Chance are, you’ll see a marked improvement sooner than you think.

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