Becoming a successful customer service representative is not as easy as you'd think. True, the majority of the population could probably pass as an average customer service representative, but it takes a specialized skill set to be successful.
Some skills may come naturally to you, whereas others you need to learn. If you are considering becoming a customer service representative, check this list to see if you have what it takes to be a success.
Assertive. If your position requires negotiation or persuasion, be assertive when making an offer. Don't stutter or hesitate. The customer will think you don't agree it's a fair offer.
Body Language. If you're meeting your customers face-to-face, don't cross your arms, tap your fingers on the counter, or stand with your hands on your hips. Smile, even if you don't want to.
Communication Skills. Depending on your particular job, you will interact with customers over the phone, in person, or via email (or possibly all three). You need to speak clearly and slowly. Don't mumble. If you're communicating via email, use proper grammar. Don't use slang, and don't abbreviate the way you would if you were texting. Use spell check, even if you don't think you need to.
Creativity. Depending on your employer, you may have authorization to do whatever necessary to keep the customer happy. Think of unique ways you can accomplish this without sending your employer into bankruptcy.
Empathy. Express to the customer that you are sorry for the inconvenience. Make them feel like you truly care about their situation.
Food and Gum. Don't eat or chew gum if you are helping customers on the phone or in person.
Listen. The person calling you may have been on hold for quite a while. They may be frustrated or irritated, or just flat-out mad. When you give them the opportunity to tell their story, listen and take notes. Don't interrupt.
Memory. You need to have a good memory, especially short-term. Don't ask the customer the same questions over and over. It will make them feel like you don't really care.
Multi-Task. You'll probably need to do several things at once. Examples are: listen, type, search, change orders, fill out reports, etc.
Office Hours. Decide if you are willing to work nights or weekends. Remember, many people will be calling after their normal business hours, so many call centers offer extended hours.
Patience. Customer service representatives must be patient. If you tend to get frustrated easily or if you have a short temper, this industry is probably not for you.
Product Knowledge. If your industry is technical or unique in some way, it helps if you have prior experience within the industry. If not, your employer will likely send you to product training so you are better able to help customers.
Resolution. You will need to find a way to solve the customer's problem, or at least bring it to a close. That may mean a return call from a supervisor or further investigation. Make sure you don't leave any loose ends hanging.
Time Management. You should help the customer in the least amount of time possible. This benefits you by allowing you to help more people, and it helps your customer by allowing them to get on with their day.
Use these skills to take your customer service to the next level. Your customers, as well as your employer, will appreciate your effort.
Amy Kirkegaard is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including social media, online reputation management, and doctor reviews. She previously worked in marketing and human resources for an oilfield equipment manufacturer.