Working in a customer service role requires excellent communication skills. No matter the size of the business, above par customer service is the key to efficient service and product delivery.

While the role can be challenging at times, it will leave you with highly transferable skills that you can apply in the workplace throughout your career.

We’ll look at the various ways you can hone your skills in person, on the phone and via live chat. Before we do that, let’s first understand why customer service communication skills are so important.

Importance of customer service communication skills

Probably the most important thing to understand is just how crucial effective communication is. We’ve all had conversations where it felt like the other person just wasn’t getting the point.

In customer support interactions this is something you want to avoid at all costs. How you communicate with a customer will ultimately determine their perception of the brand as a whole. The last thing you want is a bad review going viral on social media.

Let’s look at how we can avoid that happening.

Mirror and matching technique

To communicate more effectively, mirror and match the customer’s communication style – you will need to listen effectively to pick up on this. For example, some customers may be interested in building rapport, while others are more interested in concluding the transaction as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Listen closely to your customer and take notice of their body language. This will give you clear insight into how you should respond to them. Not picking up on these cues could result in a frustrated customer.

Strive for empathy

You won’t always be able to provide the desired outcome, but you can be empathetic. Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and seeing the situation from their point of view will make this easier to do.

Without empathy, there’s less chance of you understanding your customer’s feelings and expectations. The key lies in questioning effectively, listening closely and exercising patience.

Dial up your patience levels

Being part of a customer service team means dealing with all sorts of people, each with their own way of doing things. Many will be easy to get along with, others will test your patience.

Whatever their personality type, you need to listen attentively to the customer’s problems. Be considered in your response. Think before you speak.

Try your best to fully understand the problem before offering a solution. Jumping the gun in these situations will only make matters worse.

Be an active and effective listener

Being a good listener is one of the best ways to improve your communication skills. Listening actively and effectively without interrupting will help you get to the heart of the matter much quicker. There’s also less chance of the customer becoming annoyed.

Repeating what the customer has told you confirms that you understand what they said. It’ll put them at ease and they’ll feel more confident in your ability to solve the problem.

Young woman working in customer service role demonstrating excellent communication skills

Communicate clearly and concisely

Clear and concise communication on your part will help the customer understand exactly what it is they’re getting. Avoid saying anything ambiguous or vague.

Customers will quickly become disgruntled if you take too long to make a point or skirt around their questions. One way to get around this is by ensuring that you have good product knowledge and a solid grasp of the company’s policies.

Make a habit of taking notes to remind yourself of important points. If there’s a problem you can’t solve on your own, escalate it immediately.

Positivity is key, avoid negative phrasing

Using positive language can make all the difference in a conversation. It’s about more than the words you use though, your body language also says a lot. If you work in a customer service role that requires face-to-face interactions, don’t:

  • Cross your arms
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Check the time (unless it’s in reference to your conversation)

Try doing these things instead:

  • Lean in slightly – this demonstrates that you are actively listening
  • Keep your arms by your side or bring your hands together in your lap – this indicates that you are open to what they are communicating
  • Maintain eye contact – this shows that you are interested in the conversation
  • Affirmative body movements – nodding your head or smiling will let people know that you are on their side

If you are in a telephone-based role make sure you use positive language when you speak to a customer. Use words like:

  • Definitely
  • Absolutely
  • Certainty
  • Fantastic

You can also use phrases like “I can” and “I understand” to connect with customers. Aside from your use of language, make sure you smile. The person you’re speaking to will hear it in your voice.

Keep a cool, professional head

Keeping a cool head can be difficult, especially when a customer is frustrated or angry. Take a deep breath and don’t take what they’re saying personally.

Maintaining a calm, professional demeanour regardless of how the customer is behaving could potentially diffuse the situation.

Tough customers are part and parcel of being in a customer service role. View them as an opportunity to improve your communication skills. See what you can learn from these interactions.

Add a personal touch

As much as it’s important to behave in a professional manner, remember that most customers still appreciate a personal touch. Humanising the experience will help them feel at ease.

Ways to do this include introducing yourself by name, addressing your customer by their name and using a sincere tone of voice when you ask how you can help them.

You can do this whether you’re dealing with a customer in person, on the phone or via written communication such as email or live chat.

Continuing the customer service journey

Knowing how to improve your customer service skills is only half the battle. Now it’s time to put what you’ve learnt into practice.

Whether you want to become an expert waiter or waitress or work in an office environment, following these tips will help you provide effective customer service every step of the way.

Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile to improve your customer’s experience. Those small acts matter more than you might think.

Are you considering a role in customer service? Coople has helped many employees find work they love at industry leading companies. Download the Coople Jobs app and get hired today.