If you work with clients on a regular basis, you always need to be on your game. Being good at customer service means that when you’re grumpy, tired, or super-busy, you still project a friendly and professional tone at all times. Even if you’re not working directly in customer service, per se, that doesn’t mean that customer service skills do not apply to you—it can never hurt to brush up on your people skills, no matter what industry you work in.
Here are a few universal skills that every good employee should master if they want to make sure not to lose clients or customers for their business—or make big jerks of themselves at crucial moments.
If you can’t communicate well verbally and in writing, then it’s time to learn. When you are representing a company, things like poor grammar, misspellings, excessive slang, and a too-casual tone really come across as unprofessional. Aim to express yourself clearly and articulately in whatever format you are required to. Check and double-check all written communication, and take care with your words. Then, get better at it. Solid communication skills will make everything in your life—especially your job—go more smoothly.
This one seems obvious but it’s worth repeating to yourself now and again: treat others as you would like to be treated. This goes for your boss, that annoying customer screaming at you about something out of your control, and the cleaning staff. Some simple things you can do to show respect are using a person’s name, actually listening when they talk, not talking over them, not looking bored, and making eye contact. If these actions don’t come naturally, make an effort to thoughtfully add them to your daily interactions. Pretty soon, they’ll become habit.
They don’t call it a virtue for nothing. Don’t rush people out the door, off the phone, or out of your cubicle without making sure they feel heard. Giving slower service or taking a bit of extra time is sometimes the smartest, most effective (and efficient) way to work—even when you just want to move on to the next task. Stay focused and show that you are paying attention. Give people your full concentration (please, please, don’t check your phone when someone is talking to you) and repeat back key details to demonstrate that you are listening and comprehending.
Know your job, your company, and your product inside out. Never be the person who doesn’t have the answer to a question—if it isn’t your department, you should know off the top of your head the right person to contact for the answer. And, of course, you should be a total expert when it comes to your company role and responsibilities. Know everything there is to know so that if anyone comes to you with a problem you don’t have to tell them you aren’t familiar with some aspect of your job.
Get better at reading people. What do they want, exactly, to happen from your interaction? And how do they want to be dealt with or addressed? Every person—customer or boss—comes with his or her set of personal quirks. It’s never about cookie-cutter solutions. Your approach for dealing with people must adapt to the specific situation. If you’re too rigid, you’ll seem fake and uncaring.
Being able to find workaround solutions and think outside of the box to solve a problem is a huge asset to any career. Cultivate your ability to think of something, anything, to help out—even when the situation seems hopeless. Stay tenacious and positive and work through it until a resolution comes to you. Even if your solution isn’t the answer, everyone will admire your dedication. When people see you are making an honest effort, they are very appreciative. You’ll come out looking like a true professional.
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