Customer service skills are not just the preserve of the shop floor or the sales meeting. Anyone who provides a service or a product to others needs to be able to assess their needs and exceed their expectations. Customers may be external or internal.
How you treat your customers reflects your professionalism — do you really put your customers first?
But how do you go about describing your customer service skills in your CV? Your career story should always be evidence-led, so if you cannot offer an example of how your customer service skills led to a positive impact, your claims may sound empty.
Employers will hope to hear stories of customer delight during an interview. Give them a hint that there is some substance to backup your sales pitch.
Many great brands put customer service at the heart of their value proposition, but customer service can mean different things to different employers. Before you talk about your customer service experience, consider whether it is appropriate for the role that you are applying to. Nothing will relegate your CV to the reject pile quicker than irrelevant stories. How does your CV highlight that you have the precise customer service skills to excel?
In this blog, we will consider customer service skills in a broad sense. We will look at:
- What are customer service skills?
- 9 examples of customer service skills
- How can you tell a story of customer service?
How you define customer service will highlight your impact. If your future boss has similar thoughts, the interview will be a meeting of like minds. Put yourself in their position for a moment before you sit down to write. What would customer service mean to them?
What are customer service skills?
The customer service journey can be as simple as a thoughtful one-off email or as complicated as managing an ongoing key account. In both cases, customer needs should dictate outcomes.
Customer service is about doing all that you can to ensure that whatever service or product that you provide is fit for the needs of the client. Sometimes it is even about telling them that there isn’t a fit. Sending someone away without your product is not always a bad idea. They will know that you put them first and they will tell other people about it. Customer service often needs you to be selfless. There is always nuance.
If you are truly customer-focused, you will therefore likely have plenty of great stories to tell. There is no place for the following meaningless phrases on a CV:
- I possess great customer service skills.
- I always put the customer first.
- My customers enjoy working with me.
- I love seeing a client with a smile on their face.
These phrases do not mean anything. Anyone can write this. Tell the stories that illustrate these points rather than leave them flapping in the wind like some empty promise. Your power comes from the authenticity of what you have done for your customers. That is what will make a potential employer want to hear more.
9 examples of customer service skills
The following nine examples illustrate the breadth of customer service skills that you may choose to mention. As mentioned before, they should be skills that you will be using in your everyday work for your future employer.
Do not hesitate to tailor your CV for different roles if necessary — if you tell irrelevant stories in the CV, any interview will not go well.
- Resilience is crucial when dealing with difficult customers, especially those who habitually complain. After particularly challenging encounters, the ability to calm down and carry on is essential, as there will be numerous such instances.
- Patience is a common skill found in customer service CVs because sometimes assisting a customer takes longer than anticipated. The key is to have no expectations and be fully committed to meeting the customer's needs, even if it takes a while.
- Customer advocacy is important when dealing with unique situations that fall outside the typical customer service guidelines. Showing customers that you are fighting on their behalf to your superiors will earn their gratitude.
- Interpersonal skills are essential for customer service professionals who must quickly build brief relationships with countless individuals throughout their careers. Make sure your CV reflects these interpersonal skills.
- Conflict resolution is unavoidable in most customer service interactions, as customers often view you as the face of the brand. Being able to de-escalate and resolve conflicts whenever possible is crucial.
- Adaptability is key for successful customer service representatives who don't rely solely on scripts. Taking a flexible approach and problem-solving demonstrates to customers that you are fully committed to resolving their issues.
- Attention to detail is crucial when addressing complex customer issues. Listening carefully for the crucial details at the core of each interaction is an important skill for a customer service CV.
- Tact is necessary when dealing with highly personal complaints, where customers may feel uncomfortable discussing the matter. Remember, your role is to provide assistance without judgment. Recognize when a situation requires sensitivity.
- Verbal communication lies at the heart of effective customer service interactions. Demonstrating clear and concise communication, as well as the ability to understand and swiftly explore solutions, is essential, considering customers have other tasks to attend to.
In customer service, being knowledgeable about the product or service you represent is crucial. Demonstrating your understanding of what customers discuss is an excellent skill to highlight on your CV, and be sure to showcase your expertise during interviews.
How can you tell a story of customer service?
Many of the customer service skills are soft skills, so they require definition and explanation. Their natural place is not in the skills section of the CV, so use those bullet points and prose elements of the work experience section wisely.
You can communicate a lot in a 12-word bullet point. Weave the following elements into your customer service story if you want to intrigue the hiring manager and make them want to find out more during an interview:
Passion about your product or service
If you don’t believe in what you are selling, then you cannot expect a customer to have confidence in your product of service. If you work in customer service, passion is a must for your CV. Don’t (whatever you do) say how passionate you are. Demonstrate it through your choice of examples. Just how did you go the extra mile to do your job? It is okay to talk about extremes – customer service is sometimes unexpectedly demanding. Stand out.
Listening to a customer or a client is the start of an effective interaction, but you need to show that you can adapt to their needs if they do not match your expectations. You would ideally like a conversation to go a certain way, but if it doesn’t then you need to be flexible. Listen carefully, get to the heart of the issue and work out their best way forward (for them).
Value every interaction
When you are seeking to grow a customer relationship, every interaction matters. Trust is tough to build, but easy to break. No matter what sort of day you are having, you have to show that you put customer care at the very top of your priority list. If you are going to work in your industry for any length of time, your reputation will precede you in customer service. Take delight in those small customer wins — they will accumulate over time. Showing a future employer that you care about the small margins will give them confidence in you.
Attempt to connect
The ability to connect with a customer or prospect emotionally is critical. Employers do not want to hire robots in a customer service role. Proving that you have the emotional intelligence to handle stressful moments in the workplace is important for any customer service professional. The more you connect with someone, the smoother the emotional journey.
Complaints are about learning
Customer service people hate complaints, but they are a fact of life. Very few companies create a product and service and then never change it — a proactive attitude towards complaints is a critical ingredient of any forward-thinking company. If left unresolved, complaints can multiply, and loss of market share follows swiftly afterwards. Be a champion of complaints and show just how seriously you take them.
Customer service skills lie at the heart of sustainable profit growth. Retaining existing customers should always be a top priority, who wooing new ones takes valuable oxygen from your competitors. Customer service is a battle that is won with empathy, dedication, listening skills and passion. The customer service CV should contain the following elements:
- Specific examples of customer service excellence.
- A range of scenarios that demonstrate the required skills.
- An undeniable passion for the product of service.
- The sense that you will go the extra mile for your clients.