Are you looking to take your customer service career to the next level? In this post, we reveal five must-have soft skills to succeed in today's dynamic customer service landscape.

As businesses evolve, one thing is clear: customer service roles have emerged as the backbone of success across all industries.

In practice, however, achieving this success is far from straightforward. Factors like supply chain disruptions have caused customer satisfaction to hit near-historic lows, putting added pressure on customer service representatives to solve issues and maintain their organization’s reputation. As a consequence, demand for top-notch customer support talent has skyrocketed.

That’s excellent news for candidates. But what separates a great customer service representative from a merely good one?

When you're thinking about what it takes to be a customer service pro, the first things that come to mind are usually the hard skills — like how well you know the software and tools you'll be using, and whether you've got experience under your belt. Just as important, though, are soft skills such as communication and problem-solving, which are transferable across different sectors and industries.

Here are five customer service soft skills to sharpen in 2023.

1. active listening

First and foremost, customer support is about listening. When a customer calls in, chances are they’re feeling frustrated. Active listening is more than just letting them talk and vent — it’s about making sure they feel heard. Support representatives should know how to balance a conversation, allowing the customer to share their concerns before they jump in with advice or solutions. Resist the urge to interrupt or let your mind wander — actually listen to what they’re saying. And if you’re having trouble understanding, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask a clarifying question or paraphrase the issue for confirmation.

2. empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s situation and feelings, and it goes a long way in customer service. Being empathetic helps build a foundation of trust, which is critical to the successful resolution of issues and a positive customer experience. Active listening and empathy go hand-in-hand. You can show empathy as a customer service representative by taking the time to hear what your customers have to say.

3. problem-solving

Customer support roles require strong problem-solving skills. These employees have to be able to think quickly, typically under quite a bit of pressure, to determine the best, most efficient and cost-effective solution to service issues. Not only will you need to know a lot about the business or product, but you’ll also need to be able to ask the right kinds of questions and think outside of the box to ensure a satisfactory resolution.

4. strong communication

Obviously, customer service is built on communication. But for these roles, it’s important that you know how to communicate clearly. Rambling conversations can only exacerbate customer frustrations and hinder your ability to help solve their issues. Be aware of how long you’re talking, and avoid using overly technical or “inside baseball” terms your customer may not understand.

5. a self-starter mindset

Finally, having a self-starter mindset is extremely valuable, especially as more organizations are utilizing remote work for customer support positions. You should effectively manage your time, collaborate with your team and show a willingness to learn, especially when it comes to new technologies.

Ready to advance your customer support career? Browse Randstad’s open positions and take the next step.