A customer service representative is an essential position in any business or organization that deals with the public. Whether the business is marketing products and services or advocating for causes, the customer services support team is the crucial link between the customer and the company.

With advances in communication technology, this job is no longer confined to face-to-face encounters with customers. The interface methods have expanded to include online customer support that may allow real-time or delayed interaction. Regardless of the methods, the customer support team must have the following skills to ensure productive interaction.

Communication Skills

Interacting with the public requires outstanding communication skills. For customer support jobs in remote sites, phone conversation strategies are important to ensure that you can find out what the customer wants, provide the answer or offer solutions and conclude the interaction as a positive encounter for the caller. For customer service jobs in physical locations such as those in retail stores, you must be able to defuse tense situations while providing solutions to resolve the issues. Communicate clearly and professionally, giving the customer due attention. Other customer support positions may have to deal with mail, email and social media. In all of these cases, make sure to use positive language at all times.

Listening Skills

Communication is always a two-way street. You should have the patience to listen to a convoluted and emotional explanation of an issue with your products or services in a neutral manner. If the customer is in front of you, give them your full attention as they explain their side. It is not polite or productive to multitask when a client wants your attention. Furthermore, listening skills assume that you are also reading between the lines and trying to discern what the the customer really wants. Keep track of the points being raised, and provide responses as appropriate.

Product Knowledge

To provide the right answers, you must know your product, service or advocacy issues extremely well. Familiarize yourself with how the product works, special features and other uses and your company’s policies on warranties, returns and exchanges. If you are discussing a service, know the limitations and mention them in a positive manner at the appropriate time. There is no substitute for product knowledge when it comes to selling a product or service.

Performance Skills

A customer service representative has to come across as empathetic even under the most ridiculous situations. When dealing with the public directly, you may need acting skills to mask your personal perspective to remain professional, assuring the customer that their issues are most important to you and the company. This is not always easy to do as some customers are not easy to please, but your performance skills can defuse a volatile situation while you offer a workable solution.

Time Management Skills

In some customer support environments, your performance as a team member is rated on how many calls or visits you can complete in a given time. Efficiency means recognizing when you cannot solve the customers’ issues and finding someone who can. Even if you sincerely want to help a customer, sometimes you may not have the information, access and authority to resolve certain issues.

Customer support is a career for outgoing and patient people-oriented persons. You play an important role in marketing, sales and branding efforts of the company. As a customer service representative, the way you handle your job impacts the company’s reputation directly.

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