What Are Customer Service Skills? (Example List Included)

By Mike Simpson

One thing is certain; every company relies on customers to stay afloat. That’s why customer service skills are so valuable. If you have good customer service skills, you can help a business thrive.

But what are customer service skills? And how do you know if you’ve got them (or if yours are good enough)?

If you’re asking yourself questions like that, you’re in luck. We’re here to shine a lot on all of that and more. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dig in.

What Are Customer Services Skills?

Before we get into the customer service skills examples, let’s take a moment to talk about what customer service skills are in the first place.

Where’s the best place to begin? Well, by answering another crucial question: what is customer service?

In the simplest sense, customer service is the act of providing guidance, assistance, or support to people interested in buying or using a product or service. Answering questions, offering recommendations, helping with troubleshooting, and similar activities can all fall under the customer service umbrella.

So, what are customer service skills? They are any capabilities that help you offer exceptional customer service. In most cases, we’re talking about soft skills. Things like communication, empathy, and problem-solving, as well as others, can all play a role in customer service.

However, certain hard skills can help. For example, knowing how a product, service, or technology works is considered a hard skill. But that information makes you better at supporting customers who purchase or use that product, service, or technology.

The hard skills that will matter to you may vary depending on your position. But they will matter nonetheless.

Essentially, any ability, trait, or knowledge area that makes it easier for you to assist customers could qualify. Once you put the capability to work to help a customer out, you’ve entered into customer service skills territory.

How Are Customer Service Skills Relevant to a Job Search?

Alright, now that you’ve got a decent idea of what customer service skills are, it’s time to move onto how they matter to your job search. Let’s start with the obvious part.

Customer service is an in-demand skill at nearly every company. By having those capabilities, you may have an easier time landing practically any kind of position.

Why are hiring managers are always on the hunt for candidates with exceptional customer service skills? Because 90 percent of people factor in customer service when deciding whether to do business with a company, and 33 percent of people will switch to a different company after a single poor experience.

In short, customer service quality impacts a company’s success. And since it directly affects their business, hiring managers prefer candidates that excel in this area.

So, exactly which customer service skills are hiring managers after? Well, that might depend a bit on the job. However, some are broadly important, so there’s a great chance that practically every hiring manager is after them.

The biggest is usually communication. Empathy can be another important one, along with patience.

Analytical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity are usually in demand as well. So are diligence, attention to detail, and the ability to remain calm when under pressure.

Now, you only need to worry about this stuff if you’re going into retail, restaurants, call centers, or other roles where interacting with consumers is part of the job, right? Wrong. Customer service skills are relevant to every kind of job.

You see, every professional serves some kind of customer. It might be a typical consumer, a client company, or even colleagues. If someone depends on your deliverables, you have a customer, period.

But the importance of customer service skills during a job search doesn’t stop there. Many of the capabilities and traits can help you at other points in your job search, too.

For example, analysis, active listening, communication, and problem-solving are all crucial in the world of customer service. However, they also make a difference during your job search.

With your analytical skills, you can figure out which jobs might be the best match, while problem-solving capabilities let you position yourself as a solution to the company’s woes. Communication helps you create a resume and cover letter that’s enticing. And when you combine that with active listening, it increases your odds of shining during the interview.

Customer service skills can also help you make a better impression when you’re reaching out to members of your network. By using them when you request assistance with finding a job, you may use a friendlier, warmer approach. When you’re asking for favors, that can make a difference.

As you can see, customer service skills matter, and not just on the job. They can make a difference during your job search, too, making them incredibly valuable to have.

How to Highlight Customer Service Skills for Job Search

By now, you probably understand just how crucial customer service skills can be when you’re trying to land a new position or working in a role. So, that means it’s time to move onto the next part of the equation: showcasing your customer service skills during your job search.

Usually, one of the first things you’ll need to do during your job search is getting your resume and cover letter in order. After all, these are the core part of any application, so you want to make sure they’re on point.

In most cases, it’s best to be accomplishment-oriented when you’re writing a resume or creating a cover letter. By concentrating on achievements, you help the hiring manager see how you put your skills into action, as well as the results you can deliver.

Typically, this means that, instead of listing bullet points about your job duties, you want to use examples of times you excelled at work thanks to your customer service skills. That’s way more impactful than listing “good customer service skills” on your resume, as it gives the hiring manager context that’s otherwise missing.

If you have multiple achievements that could fit the bill, how do you pick between them? By using the Tailoring Method. With the Tailoring Method, you focus on what’s relevant to the specific job you’re hoping to get. It takes the hiring manager’s needs and preferences into mind, ensuring you speak directly to them.

MIKE'S TIP: What if you have several relevant accomplishments but don’t have the room to include them all? If that’s the case, try to concentrate on the ones that let you quantify the details. Numbers can really work in your favor. They stand out visually and give the hiring manager a better idea of what you’re able to handle. So, if you’re choosing between relevant achievements and only some of them have impressive numbers, start with those.

Once you’ve got your application materials handled, it’s interview time. The Tailoring Method can help you here, too, as it works great for traditional job interview questions and tricky behavioral interview questions.

But, if it’s behavioral interview questions you’re worried about, make sure to incorporate the STAR Method, too. It’s an excellent strategy for creating compelling responses, making sure your answers are both informative and engaging.

How to Develop Customer Service Skills If You Don’t Have Them

If you’ve never worked in a customer service job, it’s easy to assume that you don’t have any relevant skills. The thing is, that isn’t usually the case.

There is a whole slew of capabilities that can help you thrive in the customer service realm, and you’ve probably picked up a few of them during your time in school or in other positions. That means your foundation is probably in decent shape; you just may not realize that yet.

But even if you’re starting from ground zero, customer service skills are learnable. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some approaches that can be surprisingly effective.

Reflect on Your Own Experiences

One simple option for improving your customer service skills is to reflect on your experiences at various businesses. Whenever you interact with a company, think about what left you frustrated. Then, consider how, if you were the employee, you would do things differently to limit the difficulties you experienced.

Also, reflect on interactions that went incredibly well. Consider how the employee was able to make a positive impression along the way, and think about how that could shape how you’ll approach customer service in the future.

Take an Improv Class

Can an improv class really help your customer service skills? Yes, it certainly can.

Improv relies on a lot of capabilities that are useful on the job. Active listening, empathy, decision-making, problem-solving, confidence, flexibility… that all comes up.

After some lessons, you may be able to think more quickly on your feet. Plus, you’ll have an easier time stepping into a customer’s shoes and seeing an issue from their perspective, as well as staying poised at all times.

Learn Stress Relief Techniques

Patience is usually a huge part of working with customers. By learning a few reliable stress relief techniques, you give yourself tools that may make it easier to remain calm and collected during difficult situations.

In most cases, some simple deep breathing exercises can be good places to start. It’s something you can use at any time, no matter where you are. But you can certainly branch out from there, adding techniques that work best for you that you can also make use of in your work environment.

Practice Active Listening

Active listening is something you can do during your daily life, making it a great way to boost your customer service skills even if you aren’t on the job. As other people speak, focus on what they are sharing instead of what you’re going to say next. Give your full attention until they are done speaking.

Then, don’t hop right into a reply. Instead, summarize what they shared and ask if that’s a fair assessment. If so, the conversation can move forward. If not, you can ask clarifying questions to improve your understanding.

In time, this process makes you a better active listener. You’ll be more adept at gathering information during conversations and ensuring your full understanding before you move forward.

List of Customer Service Skills

As we mentioned above, a ton of abilities and traits are part of your customer service skill set. By knowing what capabilities qualify, you can figure out what you should highlight during your job search.

Here’s a list of customer service skill examples:

    • Communication
    • Active Listening
    • Patience
    • Empathy
    • Problem-Solving
    • Flexibility
    • Analysis
    • Research
    • Negotiation
    • Creativity
    • Critical-Thinking
    • Product/Service Knowledge
    • Troubleshooting
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Adaptability
    • Stress Management
    • Persuasion

Of course, these aren’t the only skills that can help you succeed in customer service. If there is another skill that lets you provide support and guidance effectively, it is worth developing.

It’s also important to understand that you don’t have to squeeze all of these skills into your resume. In fact, you probably shouldn’t, as you may find yourself short on space or sacrificing the quality of your application.

Instead, use the Tailoring Method to pick the most relevant ones as a starting point when picking your achievements. If you have room after that, you could add more relevant examples, but it’s always best to start with the strongest matches.

Plus, there will probably be other skills you need to talk about, too. If you want to learn more about skills to put on a resume, we’ve tackled that topic before. Along with customer service skills, we dove into plenty of other important areas, making it easier for you to decide what you need to showcase during your job search.

Putting It All Together

In the end, customer service skills are universally valuable. Use the tips above to help you take yours to the next level and showcase them when you’re searching for a new job. That way, you can make yourself the best candidate possible, increasing the odds that you’ll land your perfect position fast.

Good luck!

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.