Agent Onboarding

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills (and How to Coach Your Agents on Them)

Companies that deliver exceptional customer service are more likely to increase their revenue, outperform their competitors, and cultivate brand loyalty, among achieving other key business outcomes.

Recognizing that customer service and customer satisfaction are both extremely important factors that influence overall business success, beloved brands like Disney and Zappos prioritize training all employees on the basics of customer-centricity, starting from day one on the job.

Looking for insights on hiring rockstar employees and ideas about what qualities to look for among potential candidates? Searching for resources for how to train new and current team members to do their jobs even better?

Here are the top four most important customer service skills that will help your company succeed, along with expert advice for how to coach your customer service representatives on them.

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills

#1: Strong communications and relationship-building skills

We asked our Stella Connect CX Connections community what they look for when hiring customer service and CX managers, and strong communications and relationship-building skills were among the top qualities they shared.

As the face and voice of your company’s brand, every time you and your team members answer the phone, respond to emails or social media posts, or offer support over text or live chat, you have the chance to improve customer satisfaction (CSAT), lifetime value, and loyalty.

Since customer interactions with your employees are one of the top factors that improve CSAT scores, here are some resources to help your CX agents bring their A game when communicating with customers over email and more:

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills

#2: Analytical thinking and data-driven decision making

Considering that companies that monitor their customer analytics see improvements in customer satisfaction and up to a 40% reduction in average handle time, according to McKinsey & Company’s “Customer First” report, data is increasingly becoming a differentiator.

And analytical thinking and data-driven decision-making were also among the top skills our CX Connections community said they look for when hiring employees. 

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills (and How to Coach Your Agents on Them)

Key customer satisfaction metrics CX professionals should have a solid understanding of include CSAT, net promoter score (NPS), and customer effort score (CES).

Check out our guide to helping your best customer service agents improve for suggestions on how to use analytics to provide a detailed view of each individual’s performance to inspire them to advance their skills.

Get 9 actionable ways to take your coaching program to the next level with our latest guide, Customer Service Coaching Plan: 9 Tips for How to Coach More Successful Agents.

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills

#3: Being coachable and responsive to feedback

We all make mistakes, but it’s how top-performers learn from their slip-ups and find ways to improve that sets them apart from the rest.

And one of the best ways to keep getting better on the job is through access to real-time customer feedback, at the individual employee level.

Companies that share ratings and comments with agents immediately following real interactions as part of their overall customer service training programs are more likely to see improvements in important KPIs, like issue-resolution rates and NPS.

For example, when retail giant Williams-Sonoma teamed up with Stella Connect to measure its NPS on an ongoing basis and used this real-time customer feedback to coach employees, the company’s NPS increased by 50%. 

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills (and How to Coach Your Agents on Them)

Keep in mind: It’s important to achieve the right balance of praise to criticism. Experts recommend aiming for a praise-criticism ratio of 5:1—sharing five wins for every time you offer up constructive feedback. 

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills

#4: Demonstrating empathy, kindness, and friendliness

Being caring and considerate is one of the top ways to provide excellent customer service, and top brands ranked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index— including Publix, Chick-fil-A, FedEx, and others—have earned this recognition specifically for the quality of their products and services and the top qualities of their staff.

Our guide “How to Deal with Angry Customers” walks through the exact steps for guiding team members on providing on-brand, customer-centric resolutions, even when navigating demanding and challenging situations.

The Resources You Need to Improve Your Team’s Customer Service Skills

More effective 1:1 meetings and real-time micro-coaching are two key strategies for building an all-star customer service team. Get our new eBook, Customer Service Coaching Plan: 9 Tips for How to Coach More Successful Agents, for even more ideas you can start putting into action with your agents right away.

Get the Guide