Customer care is something that almost every business must devote time and resources to. From classic customer service systems to more intuitive strategies that ensure interactions happen smoothly and communication feels personalised, the way that you interact with your customers is essential to building a positive brand reputation and generating repeat business.
Those who work in customer care will know that there is far more to the role than just being polite, knowing how to solve common problems or answering FAQs. There is a wide range of skills for customer care that will benefit any position that handles customer interactions with a business, and we have outlined 14 of the most important in this article.
Customer care is a term that is often used interchangeably with customer service, but there is a difference between the two. Whilst customer service refers to the general advice and assistance that a company gives to its customers, customer care goes one step further and refers to how well customers are treated when they interact with the brand as a whole.
Whilst customer care includes customer service, it also factors in building an emotional connection with your customer base. Companies that are known for good customer care tend to listen to the feedback they are given, take accountability for any mistakes or problems and make changes to the business based on the advice or suggestions they are given.
Customer care covers how a customer is treated and interacted with before, during and after they make a purchase. They do not have to come to you to receive customer care; it will be baked into the process of making a purchase and enjoying the product or service that a company offers.
As an employee, having good customer care skills means more than just treating the people you interact with with politeness and respect. It means going above and beyond to ensure that the entire experience you offer on behalf of a brand is positive, which includes a range of specific skills.
The number one skill for those who work in customer service or customer care is patience. Whilst hopefully you’ll have plenty of experiences interacting with people who are happy with the service that they have received, there will likely be a portion of your role that involves handling problems and complaints.
Patience is one of the most important skills required for customer service because it allows you to do your job without losing your temper and letting negative emotions impact the quality of your work. There may be times when it feels impossible to stay calm or continue trying to get to the bottom of an unclear issue, but patience will be a massive help in these situations and allow you to take a step back and stop worrying about the time a task or conversation is taking.
The nature of customer care roles is that you spend most of your time interacting with other people or thinking about how they are likely to feel at various stages of the buyer journey. Empathy is one of the key customer service skills that will make these tasks a lot easier, as putting yourself in a customer’s shoes is one of the best ways to ensure you’re delivering meaningful and genuine help.
Practising empathy involves imagining how other people might be feeling in certain situations, or what kind of emotions might have led to them reacting in a certain way. When it comes to customer care, empathy will also be useful when you’re deciding how best to interact with potential customers early on in their contact with your brand, combining data-led insight with your own perceptive ideas about motivation and experience.
As someone working in customer service, communication is a key part of your role. Whether you spend your time talking to customers directly or handle the messaging that they will receive as potential customers, you need to have strong communication skills, both written and verbal.
It can be important to hone your communication skills so that you embody the same tone that your company uses in all of its messaging. For example, if a key part of your brand identity is being a high-end business, then you’ll want all of your customer communication to reflect a refined and polite tone.
A skill for customer care that many people don’t realise is important is the ability to problem-solve. Customer care is all about ensuring that the entire experience of interacting with a brand is smooth and satisfying, which involves identifying any potential points where a problem might arise and deciding how best to avoid this.
There may also be times when a customer comes to you with an issue that needs resolving that may not have come up before, and in order to provide the best standard of customer service, problem-solving skills will be needed to find a solution as soon as possible.
There is a wide range of responsibilities that those who work in customer care may be required to take on. Adaptability is a key skill required for customer service that will ensure you are ready to handle whatever the role throws at you, from designing messaging involved in the journey customers take when making a purchase to handling submissions to a helpline. Every customer will be different, and an adaptable mindset will help you to easily switch to the persona required to deal with their question or complaint.
Staying positive no matter the situation is one of the customer service qualities that will make a huge difference to your success in the role, as well as your enjoyment of it. Making minor changes in the way you speak to ensure that your language is overwhelmingly positive can make a big difference to the outcomes of interactions with customers, meaning that even aggressive complaints can be handled with optimism.
Using positive language not only involves focusing on the positives of a situation, such as thanking a customer for feedback, but also making incremental changes to the words you use. For example, instead of saying ‘A replacement will not be available until the end of next week’, a positive response would be ‘A replacement will be available by the end of next week’ to make a delay sound like a solution.
Time management is a soft skill that is beneficial in a wide range of roles, and customer care is no exception. Not only will it help you to manage your tasks and ensure that requests get completed on time, but it is also very important when it comes to getting back to customers, processing inquiries, finding answers and preparing for important sales conversations.
Whether your role solely consists of helping customers to solve problems with their purchases, or you have a more general position that focuses on providing a positive customer experience with your brand, having complete knowledge of your product or service offering is one of the key customer service skills. A key pain point when it comes to customer care is when the person trying to help doesn’t actually know how to solve a problem, so having comprehensive knowledge of what your company sells will avoid this common pitfall.
Sometimes, roles in customer service can feel repetitive. If all you’re responsible for is answering the same sorts of queries or solving basic problems, it can be easy to avoid any kind of engagement with your job, which will stop customers from feeling engaged as well.
Most customer care jobs involve enough variety that this isn’t often an issue, but attentiveness is still a very important skill to have in the role. If you’re fully present and tuned in to what your customers are looking for, the customer care that you provide is likely to be much higher quality and massively benefit the business.
Listening may seem like an obvious suggestion for a list of excellent customer care skills, but it’s an essential part of the role. Whether you’re directly listening to customer suggestions or paying attention to the general reactions and behaviour of your target audience and customer base, having your finger on the pulse of what people feel about your brand and the customer experience you provide will help to refine your service and build a better relationship with your audience.
Tenacity is one of the skills for customer care that can be the difference between someone being good at their job and great at their job. Being determined and persistent when it comes to ensuring that customers are satisfied will lead to far higher standards of customer service, especially when you’re willing to go the extra mile or refuse to cut corners in order to provide the best possible help.
Professionalism is a key customer service quality that will bring a multitude of benefits if you put the work in to hone it. In customer care, being professional means being able to persevere and not take anything too personally, keeping a clear head even when things get stressful, and also taking accountability for the problems that you need to solve. When you’re in a customer-facing position, your image matters, and maintaining a professional image will make you a highly valued employee.
Resourcefulness is a similar skill to problem-solving which is one of the most important customer service competencies. Not only will you need to identify solutions to problems or pain points, but you will then need to practically plan how you are going to make these solutions a reality so that they help your customers, and resourcefulness will massively help you in this regard.
Finally, honesty is a customer care skill that will make a big difference to how your customers feel whilst interacting with your brand. There are some instances where honesty may not be the best policy, but showing accountability when things go wrong and being honest about how certain problems will have to be solved will show that you’re a brand that genuinely cares about their customer relationships and elicit stronger emotional reactions from the customers who reach out, all of which will benefit your business.
A customer care strategy is a plan that a business has in place to ensure that all of its customers receive the help that they need. It often contains multiple channels of communication, such as an FAQ section on a website, a live chat option and a phone number or email address that customers can call to speak to a member of the customer service team.
A customer care policy provides all of the information that customers might need to understand how a company’s customer service strategy works. On a basic level, it might just have relevant contact information or links, information about the hours when customers will get a response and perhaps a statement about a company’s commitment to helping their customers. More thorough policies may have a more detailed statement about how much a company cares about their customers, how they promise to handle complaints, questions and suggestions and named members of their customer service team.
Whilst the specific principles of customer care and customer services will differ between companies, there are general principles that all of those working in customer services uphold. These include being friendly, treating customers with respect, doing everything they can to provide help and never making the customer feel like they are in the wrong, as opposed to always treating them like they are right.
Having a good customer care strategy is just as important for growing and sustaining a business as a strong marketing or business development strategy. Ensuring that your customer service skills are up to scratch will make sure that this strategy is successful, and all of the above are excellent examples of good customer care skills that will give anyone working in or hoping to work in customer care a great place to start when looking to develop their skill set.
If you’d like to find out more about developing skills for customer care, we offer an online ‘Customer Care’ training course as part of our personal and professional development range that is suitable for anyone involved in customer care.