Ten skills learned while working in a customer service

This was heard in a recruitment office: “If customer service was obligatory like military service, the world would be a better place!” It’s true that working with the public develops universal, essential job skills and here are ten of them.

  1. The art of greeting

These skills open a dialogue showing the participants true colours. However, René-Louis Comtois—Director and founder of Formations Qualitemps—a training business specialized in management and work organization—believes greetings are too often mechanical. He maintains, “Formulas can be learned, but nothing replaces a good dose of humanity.”

Regardless of context, the basis of good customer service is politeness, propriety, and tact, which is found in working with the public, where you use formal instead of informal language while tending to the process and cutting out rude remarks. In doubt, doing more—shaping up—is better than not doing enough.

  1. Listening

Listening to clients teaches you to step aside and put others first. Comtois asserts, “It’s the basis to develop sensitivity to others and their needs.” We lack valuable opportunities to help others. 

  1. Public speaking

We learn to pick the right words at the right time while serving clients without interruption. Warning: this does not mean being silent, filling pauses with small talk, or crushing them with questions, exclamations, and comments. 

  1. Negotiation

A good negotiation is one where both parties emerge defeated, previously stated by Lucien Bouchard, former Premier of Quebec. Negotiating is also a dance where both sides show each other, in turn, that they are interested without showing too much. Serving clients teaches the basics of this “psychological dance where nobody wins.”

  1. Humility

According to Comtois, the ability to admit that you don’t understand is part of the “universal interpersonal techniques” inevitably developed while serving customers. In short, we learn to swallow our pride.

  1. Necessary conciliation

The expert says, “Customer service teaches a ‘conciliation’ style rather than a ‘confrontational’ style.” According to him, openness is essential to live together. 

  1. Understanding not judging

Some clients are gullible while others seem to make irrational decisions. Regardless, customer service requires keeping your criticism to yourself and ignoring the details.

  1. Selflessness

Comtois likes to employ the word love when he speaks of a person’s generosity. He remarks, “Customer service instills love for others. In this love, we can find motivation to ceaselessly repeat this experience of getting in touch with them.”

  1. Compassion

The ultimate goal, the holy grail of customer service is the ability empathize instead of only sympathize. Nevertheless, Comtois indicates, “Alas, this is a moral value that cannot really be learned.” 

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