“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.” –-Tony Hsieh

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.

In addition, the skills and knowledge you learn in customer service are invaluable and can be transferred to just about any other kind of job or career. 

In fact, many successful managers started their careers in customer service! 

Customer service is also a vitally important part of any business. In one survey, 61% of customers said they would switch to another brand after only one bad experience.

This means that businesses are always looking for job candidates who have excellent customer service skills on their resumes. 

In this article, we’ll show you…

  • The top 10 customer service skills employers are looking for.
  • How to highlight these skills on your resume.
  • How to highlight these skills in a job interview.
  • How to develop and improve your customer service skills.

If you want to maximize your chances of getting a job interview in the customer service industry, consider using Jobscan’s resume scanner.

This AI-powered software compares your resume to the job description and provides you with a “match rate,” as well as instructions on how to increase your match rate.  


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Table of Contents

What are customer service skills?

Customer service skills are the abilities and knowledge you need in order to interact with customers in a friendly and helpful way. Using these skills, you can

  1. Resolve any complaints or concerns customers might have.
  2. Provide them with information about your company’s products and services.

When people think of customer service, they usually envision a call center with people busy talking on telephones. 

But the reality is that anyone who interacts with customers – cashiers, salespeople, restaurant servers, hotel workers – needs good customer service skills. 

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. 

Both hard and soft customer service skills are necessary for providing excellent customer service.

Read the full guide: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills (and How to Use Them on Your Resume)

Why are customer service skills important?

“Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.” –Sally Gronow

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. 

This is why having customer service skills on your resume is so valuable; they can make you a highly attractive job candidate in a variety of industries. 

The top 10 customer service skills

Employers are always on the lookout for people who have great customer service skills.

Although customer service roles may vary depending on the industry, 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. 

When engaging in active listening, it’s important to be patient and to allow the speaker to share their thoughts and feelings without interruption.

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. By doing so, you show that you truly care about providing excellent customer service.

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.
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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. 

This is why your resume needs to show that you have problem-solving skills.

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

In many cases, problem-solving also requires creativity and outside-the-box thinking in order to come up with unique solutions that will satisfy the customer. 

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 the understanding of a company’s products and services. 

By showing that you are knowledgeable about the products you sell, you can instill confidence in customers and build trust. This, in turn, leads to repeat business and customer loyalty.

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. 

Time management is important in customer service because:

  1. Customers expect prompt attention and a quick resolution to their problems.
  2. You need to be able to handle a high volume of calls without becoming overwhelmed.

Good time-management skills can help you keep track of multiple tasks, deadlines, and customer requests. This allows you to provide efficient and accurate service while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

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 and ever-changing modern workplace, it’s becoming increasingly important for employees to be able to adapt to new situations and people quickly and easily.

Adaptability is an especially important skill 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.

When done well, persuasion can make customers buy a product or service without them even realizing it. It is a very subtle and effective way to get people to keep using your company or brand. 

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 to demonstrate the scope of your responsibilities and 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, and 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

It’s always a good idea to carefully read through the job description and pick out words and phrases that are mentioned repeatedly. These are called keywords.

Hiring managers often skim through resumes looking for 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. These databases are called application tracking systems, or ATS. 

Hiring managers use the ATS to find suitable job candidates 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. This greatly increases your chances of getting a job interview.  

This is why it’s so important that your resume uses the same language that is found in the job listing!

For example, if the job listing is looking for someone who can, “work collaboratively with teammates to solve customer issues quickly and efficiently,” then you should try to use the words “worked collaboratively” and “solved customer issues” on your resume if possible. 

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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

More than anything else, 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 of good people skills would be if you are able to 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 at times, 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 promotion or 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.

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 absolutely mention it in a job interview.

First, emphasize how the training helped you develop strong customer service skills. Then show how you successfully 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, if you received training on how to actively listen to customers, or how to use positive language when interacting with them, 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 should do to grow your customer service skills:

1) Always be polite and friendly

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that 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, but 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 and ensures that any lingering issues are resolved. 

A simple phone call or email can make all the difference in creating a lasting impression.

By doing these four things, you can develop the skills that are essential for success in any customer-facing role.

FAQs

Why are customer service skills important?

Customer service skills are important because they allow you to better understand and meet the needs of your customers. This enables you to build strong relationships with them. 

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

How can I improve my customer service skills?

There are a few key things you can do to make sure your customer service skills are up to par.

First, always be polite and professional. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to always treat your customers with respect. Be patient and understanding, even if they show frustration or anger.

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. This way you can provide them with the best possible solution.

Happy customers mean a successful business, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right!

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.

The best way to highlight customer service skills on your resume is to use a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner.

This tool uses AI technology to optimize the searchability of your resume so that recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to find it, resulting in more job interviews and opportunities. 


Make your resume stand out and get noticed

Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.


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