9 Critical Skills for Customer Service Reps

See also: Tips to Improve Customer Service

It’s crucial that your business understands that quality customer service is the cornerstone to success.

Customers will soon stop doing business with a company that they feel has not served them well. Training your representatives to become quality customer service providers can mean the difference between a happy customer and one who looks elsewhere for their product or service.

Customer service representative

American companies lose over $62 million in sales every year due to poor customer service. In many cases, customers claim that they are willing to pay more for a product if they can rely on excellent customer service. This translates into increased sales for companies that take their customer service seriously.

Your customer service department should be providing support to current and prospective customers. Partnering with a customer service outsourcing company can complement your team's efforts by providing specialized support and allowing your internal staff to focus on core business functions. While there are always customer service problems to deal with, properly trained staff can manage any issues with efficiency and professionalism. Let’s take a closer look at some of the critical skills needed by customer service representatives.

Principles of Excellent Customer Service

If you want to have an excellent customer service department, you must follow the four main principles: competency, personalized, proactive, and convenient. These important factors will have the most influence on the customer experience leading to satisfaction and repeat business.

  • Competency

    A competent customer service rep has superior product knowledge and conducts informed problem-solving techniques to serve the customer.

  • Personalized

    Customers want to know that your company cares about their satisfaction. Adding a personal touch to your customer service mandate that provides a human touch to your interactions.

  • Proactive

    Customers want to be kept in the loop. If you experience a problem with your service or product, being proactive and reaching out to customers will help you to build brand trust.

  • Convenience

    You need to make it easy and convenient for your customers to reach out when they need help. Creating a 24/7 hotline or online chatbot can help customers to get the service they need quickly.

Critical Customer Representative Skills

Problem Solving

Your customers don’t have the knowledge to self-diagnose their product issues. It becomes the responsibility of your customer service department to interpret what the customer needs and come up with a solution. In many cases, this requires your rep to use their intuitive problem-solving skills to find the problem and present the right solution.

Emotional Intelligence

Your customer service representatives should know how to relate to anyone in sometimes difficult situations. Customers are often frustrated and even angry when they are trying to resolve a product issue. Your reps need to have the confidence and patience to deal with disgruntled customers with kindness and empathy. Your customer service staff needs to be able to focus on the problem at hand and not take anything personally. Being able to provide empathetic service is the key to resolving tense situations and delivering a satisfactory solution to the problem.


One of the key skills in an excellent customer service rep is patience. Customers who have experience a problem with a product or service are likely to be frustrated and in need of answers. Being able to patiently listen to the customers’ issues and concerns will give them the feeling that their problem is appreciated and that you are there to solve the problem. Your customers should feel like they are being heard instead of feeling like they are being rushed through the system. Your team members should have the ability to patiently listen to the problem at hand so that they have a full understanding of the issue.

Clear Communication

Many miscommunications with customers result from a lack of skills on the part of your customer service staff. Clearly communicating is a crucial skill that can help ease customers’ frustrations and ensure a satisfactory experience. While it’s important that your reps become experts in the company’s products, there needs to be a clear and concise script that customers can follow. Too much detail or technical information can be further confusing for customers. Your reps need to be able to speak clearly and concisely to customers to ensure there is understanding.

Persuasion Skills

In many cases, people who contact your customer service department look for more information before buying a product. This means that your customer service reps are often responsible for drawing in the customer and ensuring the sale. While sales techniques vary from company to company, your service staff must have the ability to persuade a potential customer that the product is the right one for them.

Product Knowledge

Extensive training should be an integral part of the onboarding process. The first weeks of employment should be focused on product education and customer service training. Your representatives must be experts on your product or service to be able to provide premium results to your customers. If your customer service reps are unable to answer questions from customers, it could affect your credibility and cost you repeat business.


One of the most crucial skills that will help you communicate with your customers is empathy. The ability to understand, sympathize and share experiences with a customer who is experiencing a problem is crucial to success. Customers want to feel like they are truly being heard and that your company has their best interest in mind. Communicating to the customer that you understand and you care is one of the most essential parts of quality service.

Closing Ability

Ultimately, the goal of every excellent customer service experience is to close the conversation knowing that an acceptable solution has been reached and the customer is satisfied. Your reps need to know how to wrap up a problem-solving session without rushing and ensuring that all concerns have been addressed.


A quality customer service rep has the ability to read their callers and anticipate the style of problem-solving that best suits the situation. They will pick up on subtle clues that will help them deliver the best service to the customer. A customer service rep needs to be able to sense frustration, anxiety, patience level, and personality. By using this skill, the rep gathers the necessary knowledge to provide the most efficient service.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

Companies that focus on the level of customer satisfaction, and not profit, end up with a loyal customer base and consistent sales. When training your customer service staff, ensure that they are equipped with these critical skills to create trust, accountability, and satisfaction for your customers.

About the Author

James Allison oversees content writing services at Globex Outreach. He uses his five years of experience to write content that always meets client’s expectations and goals.