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Home » Articles » Essential customer service skills and traits for success

Essential customer service skills and traits for success

Customer service representatives play a huge and significant role in every business. They are considered as front liners, and the quality of customer service that they provide can make or break your business.

Research conducted in 2015 concluded that 76 percent of consumers look at customer service as a test of their value to a brand.

Half of their respondents even noted that they had switched brands because of poor customer service.

Customer service skills and traits

  1. Passion for helping people
  2. High emotional intelligence (EQ)
  3. Adaptability and flexibility
  4. Warmth and natural friendliness
  5. Enthusiasm and positivity
  6. Willingness to go the extra mile and eagerness to improve
  7. Excellent communication skills
  8. Problem-solving skills
  9. Thick skin
  10. Time management skills

What does a customer service representative do?

Customer service representatives or agents are the employees tasked to interact with customers on behalf of an organization. Their job is to answer calls and resolve complaints.

They may also provide information about the company’s products and services, take orders, determine charges, and process returns.

Customer service reps work in almost every industry, and their tasks will depend on where they work. While most agents answer incoming telephone calls, some are assigned a particular mode of communication, such as emails, live chat, or other non-voice channels.

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Most customer service representatives working in call centers are outsourced. Companies such as SixEleven provide optimal customer service and technical support for their clients in the West.

Some work in insurance agencies, banks, and other places that have contact with customers. Further, a trend of customer service providers working remotely is also witnessed within the past years.

What does a customer service representative do

Hiring customer service representatives remotely

Remote working has become mandatory since the pandemic. It has forced everyone to rethink their strategies and find ways to cope and continue their operations. Building strong customer service is one of the ways to go.

This is one of the advantages of outsourcing. When a business outsources its services properly, it won’t have to worry about halting its operations and risking losing its customers from time to time.

This helps them to cut on costs and rechannel their energy to core tasks for them to recover.

Cloudstaff, one of the well-known outsourcing companies in the Philippines, can help you hire customer service representatives and make their work more efficient through workflow automation.

What are the key personality traits every customer service representative should possess?

Like any other job, an applicant needs to possess specific skills and traits to even be considered as a customer service provider.

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This career path is not for everyone, so take a look at the most important personality traits and skills you need to have to excel as a customer service representative.

1.   Passion for helping people

Keeping customers happy should be way beyond just passing customer service metrics. Customer service providers must have a passion for helping others.

Those who are passionate about helping others are active listeners, proactive, and are willing to understand the situation.

Customer service agents who have a passion for helping people genuinely care about their clients, therefore providing quality and above-and-beyond customer service.

2.   High emotional intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the feelings of the people around them. EQ is also about self-awareness and having a robust emotional vocabulary.

People with high EQ are naturally empathetic towards other people, which is a very crucial trait needed when you’re helping customers with their problems.

An outstanding customer service representative must be able to put himself in their customers’ shoes to understand their frustrations.

Here’s a guide on how to increase your emotional intelligence.

3.   Adaptability and flexibility

Customer service is a busy role, and you must be willing to adapt to whatever comes your way.

Agents must be able to multitask effectively, be prepared to work on new tasks and processes, and should be comfortable with crazy work schedules.

4.   Warmth and natural friendliness

Consumers are more demanding than ever before, mainly because they are presented with various options to choose from. One simple yet unpleasant interaction can cause the company profit.

Even over the phone, a person can tell if your friendliness is the fake, phony kind.

When dealing with customers, the ability to stay genuine and likable is a considerable advantage and can make a huge difference in their customer experience. Friendly customer service puts the customer at ease.

5.   Enthusiasm and positivity

Enthusiastic and positive customer service puts clients at ease, making them feel more inclined to ask more questions and consider more options. This is especially valuable if you are tasked with product selling.

The enthusiasm and positivity in a customer service agent reflect on their voice and largely contributes to the tone of the conversation.

6.   Willingness to go the extra mile and eagerness to improve

They say the customer always comes first and that they’re always right. Being willing to go the extra mile will please your customers.

In addition, being willing to go above and beyond means also being eager to learn more and improve on your craft.

Accepting your mistakes and swallowing your pride are vital skills that you need to have and work on, in order to provide the best customer service experience.

What are the key personality traits every customer service representative should possess

7.   Excellent communication skills

You may know the answer or solution to a customer’s problem, but if you don’t know how to communicate properly, then it doesn’t count. Terrible communication skills might create even more confusion and frustration on both sides.

Practice empathy in order to communicate properly, and avoid being a know-it-all. Using jargon is not necessary; explaining in the simplest terms will get the solution across as quickly as possible.

8.   Problem-solving skills

As mentioned above, part of the responsibilities of a customer service agent is to resolve customer complaints.

Being able to solve a problem on your own is a valuable skill, and is crucial as a top customer service provider.

A person’s problem-solving skills aren’t just about resolving problems. It is also the incorporation of the following strengths: a strong understanding of the company’s product or service, confidence and intelligence, and the ability to read between the lines, all while working efficiently.

9.   Thick skin

One of the toughest jobs of being a customer service agent is being the receiver of the customers’ anger, impatience, frustrations, or even threats!

Stress will also be a part of any job, but a person with developed thick skin will have an advantage in this career path.

The good thing is, “thickening your skin” is something that you can learn. Sometimes, polite silence in a conversation with a difficult and irate customer can be the best thing for your peace of mind.

10.  Time management skills

Customer service teams are likely in charge of multiple tickets at a time. Strong balance and time management skills are necessary to make your clients happy.

Sure, it will take time to master how to manage and make time for various tasks, but as long as you’re a fast learner and willing to improve, it’s most likely not going to be a problem.

Do you have what it takes?

Possessing these traits and skills will surely set you up for success in the field of customer service. It will be a stressful path, but could also be a fulfilling and productive one.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a stellar customer service representative?

Customer service traits FAQ

What are 3 important qualities of customer service?

Customer service is not for everyone, as this career requires a lot of important qualities and skills in order for agents to excel. However, the top three important qualities and skills that customer service providers need to work on are: (1) having high emotional intelligence (EQ); (2) clear communication skills; and (3) problem-solving skills.

High EQ is required for customer service providers because they’ll be handling issues and frustrated customers all day. It is important to know how to connect and build a rapport with customers. Additionally, clear communication skills are also needed since conversations are limited and are only done through the phone. Of course, to be able to satisfy the customer, one must have excellent problem-solving skills to fix issues.

How would you describe your customer service skills?

“How do you describe your customer service skills?” is a pretty common interview question to get asked when applying for a customer service role. Customer service is an all-encompassing function that has a lot of components and areas that you need to master, like effective communication, proactivity, reliability, and conflict resolution, among others. 

When answering this question, describe your customer service skills in the context of the position you’re applying for. For client-facing roles, emphasize that you are a good communicator and a strong speaker. For back office roles, make sure to let them know that you’re also efficient in providing technical support. There’s no one size fits all to this question, so it’s important to learn your strengths and actual skills and describe them the best you can.

How do you handle angry customers?

Once in a while, in the career of a customer service provider, they’ll encounter angry or rude customers that are too difficult to please. Most companies outsource their customer service to avoid having to deal with issues like these to telephone answering services providers. These service providers are professionally trained to handle irate and displeased customers.

An effective way to handle angry customers is to empathize, listen very carefully, and break the problem down to little pieces. Be patient and willing to work with the customer to break down the issue to smaller, more manageable portions that are easier to tackle. Fixing the root instead of just the surface will ensure an effective outcome for both parties.

What do you say to a rude customer?

Keeping your cool may be really challenging when you’re dealing with an extremely rude customer but it’s the most advisable thing to do in the situation. It is a generic advice, but it will always hold true. Rude customers are the toughest part of a customer service job but with the right mental attitude, communication, and thick skin, hopefully they’ll understand that they should not be leashing out their frustrations on you.

Assess the situation and say something like, “I understand why you’re upset,” and “I apologize for the inconvenience. Let me see what we can do to take care of the issue.” Let them know that they’re being heard and that their problem is being resolved.

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