Although it can be challenging at times, being a customer service representative can also be an incredibly rewarding job.

After all, you have the opportunity to help people solve problems and improve their lives in some way.

Customer service is an important part of any business. In one survey, 61% of customers said they would switch to another brand after only one bad experience. This is why businesses are always looking for people with strong customer service skills. 

In this article, we’ll show you the top ten customer service skills employers are looking for. You’ll also learn how to highlight these skills on your resume and in an interview.

Table of Contents

What are the top 10 customer service skills to add to your resume?

Here are the ten customer service skills you should consider adding to your resume to make you a more attractive job candidate:

  1. Communication
  2. Active listening
  3. Empathy
  4. Patience
  5. Problem-solving
  6. Product knowledge
  7. Time management
  8. Adaptability
  9. Persuasion
  10. Positive language

Hiring managers are always looking for these skills, so if have any of them, make sure to add them to your resume!

What are customer service skills?

Customer service skills allow you to interact with customers in a friendly and helpful way.

Customer service goes beyond just call centers and telephone conversations. It’s a skill needed in many job roles that involve customer interactions. Cashier skills, for example, must include the ability to handle customer queries and transactions with courtesy. Similarly, barista skills need a focus on customer service to provide a pleasant cafe experience. Server skills also require excellent customer service to ensure diners are happy with their meal. Receptionist skills are incomplete without good customer service, as receptionists often provide the first impression of a business. Strong customer service is even a vital part of pharmacy technician skills, helping patients understand their prescriptions and treatments.

Customer service skills are divided into two categories: hard skills and soft skills

Hard skills relate to your ability to use customer service software and tools. They also refer to the knowledge you have about your company’s products and services. Soft skills relate to interpersonal skills such as communication, problem-solving, and empathy. 

To make sure you include both the hard and soft resume skills required the job, use a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner. It uses AI technology to analyze your resume and give it a score.

Why are customer service skills important?

It’s not an exaggeration to say that customer service skills can make or break a company. After all, if customers are not happy, they won’t come back. 

On the other hand, excellent customer service skills can help you build customer loyalty, satisfaction, and repeat business.

In fact, surveys show that 89% of customers say they are more likely to buy another product after a positive customer service experience. 

The top 10 customer service skills

Customer service roles may vary depending on the industry. But there are certain skills that are universally valued by employers.

Here are the top 10 customer service skills that employers are looking for: 

1) Communication

Obviously, the ability to communicate with others is critical if you’re a customer service representative.

You need to be able to speak clearly and concisely, understand customer inquiries, and provide helpful responses. You also need to be able to effectively communicate with other members of your team to help resolve customer issues.

Communication skills are used in customer service in a number of ways, such as:

  • Explaining product features and benefits to customers.
  • Providing instructions on how to use a product or service.
  • Answering customer inquiries.
  • Resolving customer complaints.
  • Upselling and cross-selling products and services.

2) Active Listening

Active listening goes beyond simply hearing the words someone is saying. It involves trying to understand the meaning and intent behind those words. 

Active listening allows you to be fully present with the customer and really listen to what they are saying. It shows that you value your customer and care about their experience.

Some specific examples of how active listening is used in a customer service setting include:

  • Asking clarifying questions to ensure that you understand the customer’s request.
  • Paraphrasing the customer’s issue back to them to confirm your understanding.
  • Using nonverbal cues such as eye contact and body language to show that you are fully engaged in the conversation.

3) Empathy

Empathy is the ability to share the feelings of another person and see things from their point of view. 

Using empathy when dealing with customers can create an emotional connection with them. This builds trust, which leads to repeat customers. In fact, 83% of customers say they won’t do business with brands they DON’T trust.

Some examples of how empathy is used by customer service reps include: 

  • Showing genuine concern for the customer’s situation.
  • Taking the time to really understand the customer’s needs.
  • Offering help or advice when it is needed.

4) Patience

Patience is a virtue as well as a skill, and it’s one that is absolutely necessary for customer service success.

Yes, it can be difficult to remain patient when dealing with customers, especially if they are being rude or demanding. But it’s imperative that you remain respectful and professional at all times.

Some examples of how patience can be shown by workers who deal with customers include: 

  • Not getting upset when customers are angry and rude. 
  • Taking the time to answer customer questions thoroughly.
  • Not rushing customers through their interactions.

5) Problem-Solving

Increasingly, employers are relying on customer service representatives to resolve most complaints themselves. It’s no longer the norm to pass these problems on to the manager. 

Problem-solving is about 1) identifying the exact nature of an issue and 2) resolving it in a timely and efficient manner. 

Examples of how problem-solving skills are used by customer service representatives include:

  • Giving a customer a discount on their purchase. 
  • Exchanging an item for a customer. 
  • Refunding a customer’s money. 
  • Fixing a broken product. 
  • Resolving a dispute between two customers.

6) Product Knowledge

Product knowledge is about understanding the company’s products and services. This is important if you want the customer to trust you.

Product knowledge is gained through training provided by the company, self-study, or experience.

Examples of how product knowledge is used by workers who deal with customers include:

  • Answering customer questions about product features and benefits.
  • Recommending products to customers based on their needs.
  • Helping customers troubleshoot problems with products.
  • Providing product demonstrations to customers.

7) Time Management

Time management is the process of planning and organizing how to spend your time to achieve specific goals. Good time-management skills can help you keep track of multiple tasks, deadlines, and customer requests.

Examples of how time-management skills are used by workers who deal with customers include:

  • Being punctual and starting work on time.
  • Answering the phone within three rings.
  • Being efficient in resolving issues.
  • Working at a consistent pace.

8) Adaptability

In today’s fast-paced workplace, it’s important to be able to adapt to new situations and people quickly and easily.

This is especially important for customer service representatives, who often have to change their approach based on the customer’s needs or moods. This can be both challenging and exciting, as no two customers are alike.

Examples of how adaptability skills are used by customer service reps include:

  • Taking the time to understand a customer’s needs and tailor their approach accordingly.
  • Being able to switch between tasks or roles as needed.
  • Being willing to change the way things are done in order to meet customer expectations.

9) Persuasion

Persuasion is the ability to influence people. Although this skill seems better suited to sales jobs, it’s highly useful in customer service as well. 

When an angry customer calls with a complaint, you need to be able to diffuse the situation and persuade the customer to accept a resolution that is beneficial to the company.

Examples of how persuasion skills are used by workers who deal with customers include:

  • Attempting to upsell a customer by showing them additional products or services that they may be interested in.
  • Giving a discount to customers who are willing to purchase a larger quantity of items.
  • Persuading a customer to buy a more expensive item by explaining its features and benefits.

10) Positive Language

Positive language is a way of communicating that focuses on the good, instead of the negative

For example, instead of telling customers “That product is not in stock and won’t be available for another two weeks,” you could say, “That product is not in stock, but I can go ahead and pre-order it and you’ll have it in two weeks.”

When you use positive language, you send the message to the customer that you are open to communication and willing to work together. 

Examples of how positive language can be shown by workers who deal with customers include:

  • Saying “Thank you for your patience” instead of “I’m sorry for your wait.”
  • Saying “That’s a great question! I’ll find out for you” instead of “I don’t know.”  
  • Saying “Certainly!” instead of “No problem.”

How to highlight customer service skills on a resume

If you’re looking for a job in customer service, your resume should highlight your relevant skills and experience. 

Here are three ways to show that you’re the right candidate for the job: 

1) Be specific and provide measurable results

When describing your customer service experience on your resume, use numbers whenever possible. This demonstrates the specific, measurable results you achieved.

For example, instead of simply saying that you handled customer complaints, state how many complaints you handled on a daily or weekly basis. Then say what percentage of those complaints you were able to successfully resolve.

Here are some examples of being specific on your resume:

  • Handled an average of 70 customer complaints per day with a 97% customer satisfaction rating. 
  • Exceeded sales targets by 21% in 2022 by quickly assessing customer needs and providing them with detailed and accurate product information.
  • Suggested a new way to persuade customers to remain with the company, resulting in 7% fewer cancellations.

2) Highlight any awards you’ve received

Customer service is a competitive field, so standing out from the crowd is important. 

Awards are a great way to separate yourself from the competition. They show potential employers that you have a proven track record of providing excellent customer service.

If you have won multiple awards, it’s best to create a separate section on your resume titled “Customer Service Awards.” Otherwise, just list your awards in your work experience section. 

When listing awards, be sure to include the name of the award, the date you received it and, if necessary, a brief description of what it was for. Here are some examples:

  • Customer Service Representative of the Year, 2020. This award is given to one individual who demonstrated outstanding customer service representative skills.
  • Employee of the Month, April 2021. 
  • Customer Service Achievement Award, 2022. This award recognizes individuals or teams who have made a significant contribution to their organization’s customer service success.

3) Use keywords from the job description

Read through the job description and pick out words and phrases that are mentioned repeatedly. These are called keywords. Hiring managers are looking for these keywords. If they find them, they’ll keep reading. 

Keywords help you stand out in other ways. When you submit your resume, it usually goes into a computer database called an application tracking system, or ATS

Hiring managers then use the ATS to find suitable job candidates. They do this by typing certain keywords into the search bar (usually the same keywords found in the job description). If your resume contains those keywords, it will appear before the hiring manager.

In other words, try use the same language on your resume that is used in the job description.

Using a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner takes the guesswork out of this process. It will tell you the exact keywords to use for every job you apply to.

How to highlight customer service skills in a job interview

Congratulations! You’ve landed an interview. Now you need to talk about the customer service skills you listed on your resume. 

Here are six ways to discuss your customer service skills in a job interview:

1) Emphasize your people skills

Customer service is about interacting with people. So it’s important to show the interviewer that you have strong people skills.

For example, you might say something like, “I had a customer who was very unhappy with the product and difficult to deal with. I listened very carefully to their concerns and found a solution that satisfied them.” 

Another example would be if you can effectively communicate with people from different backgrounds and cultures. This shows that you are able to adapt your communication style to meet the needs of others.

Whatever the example, be ready to talk about it in detail.

2) Show that you’re willing to go the extra mile

Another way to highlight your customer service skills in a job interview is to talk about a time when you went above and beyond for a customer. 

This could be something as simple as going out of your way to help them find the right product or troubleshooting an issue they were having. 

Whatever the scenario, be sure to emphasize how your actions made the customer’s experience better. 

3) Show that you can stay calm under pressure

Customer service can be challenging, so employers want to know that you can remain calm and collected even when things get tough. 

Share a story about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer or situation, and explain how you handled it.

4) Show that you’re a problem solver

Employers want customer service representatives who can quickly and efficiently solve problems, preferably on their own. 

In your job interview, try to give an example of a time when you were able to resolve a tricky issue for a customer without asking for help. 

First explain what steps you took to solve the problem, then discuss the positive results of your efforts. 

5) Explain how you earned any customer service awards or promotions

If you received a customer service award, be sure to mention this in your job interview. And don’t forget to explain what you did to deserve praise. If you received a promotion because of your customer service skills, even better! Highlight those promotions on your resume to really stand out.

For example, if you received an award because you increased customer satisfaction scores by 20%, then mention that accomplishment. 

This will give the interviewer a clearer picture of what you are capable of, and how you can help the company.

6) Discuss any training you received to develop customer service skills

If you’ve received any kind of customer service training or certificates, you should mention it in a job interview.

First, emphasize how the training helped you develop strong customer service skills. Then show how you used those skills in your previous work experience. Finally, highlight any specific customer service techniques that you learned during your training. Explain how you would use those techniques in the role you are interviewing for. 

For example, maybe you received training on how to actively listen to customers, or how to use positive language. Discuss how those specific skills made you a better customer service representative.

How to develop customer service skills

Like any kind of skill set, customer service skills are developed through practice, practice, practice. 

Here are the four things you can do to grow your customer service skills:

1) Always be polite and friendly

This may seem obvious, but your attitude will set the tone for your interactions with customers. 

If you’re rude or impatient, the customer is likely to respond in kind. However, if you’re calm and professional, they’ll be more likely to follow your lead.

2) Try to see things from the customer’s perspective

The customer is contacting you because they’re experiencing a problem, so it’s important to empathize with their situation. 

Really try to put yourself in their shoes and understand how they’re feeling. This will help you respond in a way that meets their needs.

3) Stay calm under pressure

Customer service can be challenging. It’s important to maintain a positive attitude even when things get tough. 

If you can stay calm and collected, you’ll be better able to handle difficult situations.

4) Follow up with the customer after the interaction is over

This shows that you care about their experience. A simple phone call or email can make all the difference in creating a lasting impression.

FAQs

Why are customer service skills important?

Customer service skills are important because they allow you to understand and meet the needs of your customers.

Additionally, good customer service skills can help you resolve customer complaints quickly and effectively. This can improve customer satisfaction levels.

How can I improve my customer service skills?

First, always be polite and professional. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to always treat your customers with respect.

Second, go the extra mile. Try to do more than what is expected or required. This could mean going above and beyond to solve a problem or taking the time to follow up after an interaction.

Third, keep your cool. No matter how challenging the situation, remain calm and collected. This will help you diffuse any tense situations and demonstrate to the customer that you’re in control.

Fourth, be a good listener. Really listen to what the customer is saying and try to understand their needs.

What is customer service?

Customer service is the process of providing assistance and support to customers or clients, either by telephone, in person, or online. 

Excellent customer service often results in repeat business and can help to build brand loyalty.

What is the most important skill in customer service?

The ability to communicate effectively is perhaps the most important skill required for customer service. 

You must be able to listen to customers, understand their needs, and then provide them with the information or assistance they require. 

You must also be able to clearly explain procedures, policies, or product features in a way that is easy for the customer to understand. 

What are the skills that make you an excellent customer service representative?

Some of the skills that make you an excellent customer service representative are:

  • The ability to actively listen to customers and understand their needs.
  • The ability to provide clear and concise information.
  • The ability to remain calm and professional under pressure.
  • The ability to build rapport with customers.

To fully optimize your resume and get more job interviews, use a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner. It uses AI technology to analyze your resume and score it based on how well it matches the job description.


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Robert Henderson, CPRW, Resume Expert

Robert Henderson, CPRW, is a career advice writer and a resume expert at Jobscan.

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