Whether you are a recent high school or college graduate trying to get your start in your career, a teenager thinking about your future or an older individual planning a reentry into the workforce, the customer service field offers a number of options. From front-line customer service reps to layers of managers and supervisors, there […]
Whether you are a recent high school or college graduate trying to get your start in your career, a teenager thinking about your future or an older individual planning a reentry into the workforce, the customer service field offers a number of options. From front-line customer service reps to layers of managers and supervisors, there is more to the world of customer service than you might think.
A Surprisingly Demanding Field
The customer service field can be a surprisingly demanding one, and the industry requires a number of specialized skills. Whether you are thinking of making customer service your lifelong career or just using it as a stepping stone to something else, you will need to bring the right skills to the table. Companies rely on their customer service teams to deliver quality to their customers, and they know that the representatives they hire are the public face of the company.
For that reason, hiring managers are becoming increasingly picky when choosing members for their customer service teams. If you think customer service jobs are easy, or easy to get, you are mistaken. Customer service jobs are demanding at all levels, from the front-line people answering incoming calls to the managers poring over detailed reports and looking for better and more cost-effective ways to please the company and its customers.
Key Customer Service Skills
So which skills are most in demand when it comes to customer service work? The answer to that question will vary from industry to industry, but there are a few key skills that most employers will be looking for.
Two vital skills that all customer service workers need to possess is the ability to learn new things and apply the knowledge the already possess to new situations. Actually these skills are essential to all workers, not just those in the customer service industry. Formal schooling is certainly important, but a quality education should also give you the skills you need to learn and grow throughout your life and career.
Patience and attentiveness are two more essential skills on which the customer service industry places great emphasis. A good customer service representative has the ability to empathize with every caller and understand their problem. They also have the patience needed to help the customer no matter how complex or unusual the problem.
Lastly, a good customer service representative is a good listener. The rep pays close attention to what the customer says, gaining clues and paying attention to signals that others might have missed. This combination of skills allows the representative to understand the problem, find the right solution and keep the customer happy.
It might seem redundant to mention, but it is vitally important for workers in the customer service industry to have strong communication skills. They will obviously need to have strong verbal communication skills; after all, most of their customer interaction will take place over the telephone. It is just as important, however, for customer service representatives to possess excellent written communication skills. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely, whether through email or former written correspondence, is an often overlooked but extremely valuable skill for employees in the customer service industry.
Beyond those basic but vital skills, there are some additional qualifications some employers will be looking for. Employers in specific industries will often require new hires to be fluent in specialized jargon and understand the acronyms common to the industry. The owners of a call center run by a health insurance company will probably expect its new reps to know what HIPAA means and how an HMO is different from a PPO. Call center reps for a technology firm might need to understand terms like COBOL, HTML and Java.
If you are applying for a customer service position in a specialized industry, it is a good idea to brush up on the jargon they use. The Internet makes such research a breeze, and knowing the relevant terms will certainly make the interview a lot easier.
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