5 Customer Service Skills Every Team Should Have

How many customer complaints do you get each month?  If you don’t know the answer to that question, or get a significant number, it’s likely a red flag for future growth.

No dispute – exceptional service is key to creating a successful business, and the path starts with your employees. To make sure that happens, create a service culture from the top down, hire team members with a customer service attitude, and provide ongoing training.

The best part – training doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. To get started, host short, weekly meetings with your team. Pick one essential skill from the list below and discuss how to use that skill in your daily interactions and possible areas for improvement. As time goes on, also reflect on the previous week’s skills to see if any new learnings can be shared with the group.

Essential Skill Topics


Patience is one of the most important skills your team can bolster. When customers need support, they may be frustrated or confused. That’s why it’s important for front facing staff to remain patient with the customer until their problem is resolved. Instead of becoming flustered or short, give everyone the tools they need and teach them to focus on solving the issue as quickly and graciously as possible.

Key take away: Your team should understand that being patient means accepting or tolerating emotionally charged customers without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Solution Focused

This one is also very important. Finding a solution and using positive language entails minor changes in wording that alter the perception of what you’re saying. Here’s an example: a customer asks if a certain product is in stock and your employee knows it’s not. The negative answer would be, “No, I’m sorry. It’s not.” But, hear the difference in this positive, solution-based answer. “Unfortunately, it’s not in stock. However, we have a few similar items or I can order that one for you right now.” Which one would leave you with a better impression?

Key take away: Teach your team how to solve issues and use positive language to help keep escalations at bay.  Customers will feel as if they’re being heard and well taken care of. Use specific examples during your training.

Product Knowledge

This one’s a no brainer — your team must have enough knowledge of your products and services to answer customer questions. Have you ever gone into a business and the employee can’t answer basic questions? That doesn’t leave you feeling confident. It’s understandable if the employee is new or your questions are more complicated. But most customers expect employees to know your products and services.

Key take away: Provide continuous training about your products/services to all employees. Make sure they can answer customers’ most common questions,  or know how to find them quickly. Bonus if you create an FAQ handout for everyone!

Attentiveness & Perception

Creating a positive experience is about your team making customers feel understood and well taken care of. When a customer walks up to your counter, calls, or sends an email, they expect to get a prompt response. Similarly, when a customer is upset, they expect an appropriate response. It’s important your team understands they should “read” the customer’s tone and body language. By attempting to understand the customer’s emotional state, your team can make them feel as if someone is on their side.

Key take away: Teach your team to be responsive and attentive as well as understanding of your customer’s point of view. When a customer knows employees are putting in the effort, they’re more likely to view the interaction as a positive experience.

Ability to “Act”

This one may sound counterintuitive, but I assure you, it’s essential. Some customers will never be happy — no matter how great your product or service. Some will become frustrated, irrational, or overly emotional and there’s not much you can do to stop them. When this happens, it’s important your employees know how to “act.” And yes, I mean act, as in fake it! While sincere service is the best service, keeping a smile on your face and your language positive when an interaction gets tough is critical.

Key take away: Let your team know it’s okay if they have to “act” their way through an interaction to keep it as positive and friendly as possible until it’s resolved.


Bottom Line

Poor customer service can significantly cost your business. To avoid the pitfalls, empower your team to dazzle your customers. Be sure to provide specific, actionable, and ongoing training. And encourage them to put the training into action. Consider providing rewards to those who put their training to use.  These basic customer skills will make a difference to your profit and peace of mind.