Customer service skills are important, and not just for your customer service department. The changing way that consumers interact and transact with brands may demand more from your customer service strategy than ever.
When staffing up in every area of your company, here are a few skills you may want to add to the list of dream qualities in your potential candidates. These customer service skills—while not customer service-oriented on the surface—may help set you and your entire team apart from those who continue to view customer service as a siloed department.
Omnichannel—there's a buzzword, right?
Omnichannel simply means all the channels where your brand has a presence and customers can transact. (For broad-sweeping brands, this includes things like Facebook Messenger, texting campaigns, email marketing, mobile and e-commerce, brick-and-mortar and social.)
The more your employees know about where and how your customers can interface with your brand, the better assistance they can provide customers when faced with questions and concerns. As well, better internal solutions like tech improvements and new app or website functionalities can come from teams acting as customer service agents for their fellow teammates in addition to your customers.
Consider educating employees about your omnichannel efforts and seek out candidates with an interest in and experience with multiple commerce and communication channels.
Thinking Like a Customer
The days are gone where "the website" belongs to IT and "design" belongs to marketing.
When was the last time you let a current employee or employment candidate weigh in on your existing customer experience? Truly exceptional customer service skills can evolve from employees and candidates who aren't afraid to advocate for change from the customer's point of view.
You can empower customer-facing team members to develop a more personal relationship with your customers through a deep knowledge of the breadth and depths of the full customer experience. Have every team member experience the customer journey on all your marketing, customer service and commerce channels.
You can then encourage them to offer solutions and collaborate with other teams. When team members and candidates offer suggestions from the customer's perspective, they can redefine their role as an employee and provide valuable customer-facing feedback since they've had the same experience as the customer.
Curiosity and Creativity
Have you ever seen curiosity and creativity listed as skills on a resume? Probably not. Yet they are vital customer service skills.
Curious employees are the ones who ask "What if...?" instead of accepting "This is the way we've always done it." With rapid transformations in mobile and social commerce, your team deserves curious employees.
Curious customer service teams look for solutions beyond the obvious protocols. They ask questions, offer solutions to supervisors and look at each new challenge as an opportunity to delight a disgruntled customer and restore a brand's integrity.
Once they get to know the breadth and depth of the customer's relationship with your brand, they can transform a typical customer service exchange from a series of mechanical questions and answers to a memorable experience. That's where creativity comes on.
Creative employees can transform customer service opportunities by digging beyond a customer's initial challenge or concern. They'll search for solutions beyond the employee handbook or triage protocols and deliver a personalized resolution experience that's memorable.
When considering candidates for customer-facing and problem-solving positions, you may want to give them the power to make the customer happy instead of forcing them to escalate to a supervisor. Think leeway versus control—customer service is a culture, not a to-do.
Omnichannel, thinking like a customer and curiosity and creativity. While they might not feel like "customer service skills of the future," shifting consumer behavior, changes in corporate culture and ever-evolving technology trends makes them more prevalent than ever.
By focusing on these three customer service skill sets, you can set out to ask better questions about your existing customer service strategy, explore ways to empower more of your workforce to act in a customer service capacity and transform your customer service efforts for years to come—all in service of the customer.
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