What makes good customer service? thumbnail image Published on 8th July 2014 by Gemma Harding

Good customer service matters. We have all heard stories from other businesses of how bad customer service has lost customers and clients, sometimes even loyal, long-term customers. Indeed, eight out of ten customers say they have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service. That is something your business wants to avoid, and there is an easy solution.


In this guide, we outline the importance of good customer service advisors, whether these agents work inhouse or are part of a specialist outsourced customer service team. This will include an explanation of what this role involves and a run through of the top skills all successful advisors must have.


What is a customer service advisor?

Customer service advisors work directly with a business’ customers and clients, helping to answer questions, mitigate any concerns, and deal with complaints. Although some businesses hire advisors that customers are able to meet in person, the most common methods of communication between advisors and customers is over the phone and through email/live chat functions. Ultimately, businesses make use of customer service advisors to ensure a positive customer experience is created and maintained within their organisation. By doing this, customer loyalty can be built and the reputation of the brand is improved. 


What does a customer service advisor do?

Regardless of industry, the role of a customer service advisor remains fairly consistent. This is to say, their primary responsibilities include talking directly to customers in order to:


  • Answer any relevant business/product/service enquiries
  • Deal with any complaints
  • Provide product/service support
  • Make product/service recommendations

In order to be effective in this role, there are a range of skills all good customer service advisors need to possess. Below we take a look at five of these key skills in a little bit more detail. 


5 key skills for customer service advisors

1. Communication and rapport building skills

Communication is essential, but doing it right means creating a rapport with your customers. It is not about sales talk, jargon or buzzwords. Customers want to be treated with respect, and that means your customer service advisor must focus on putting people first.


They must be comfortable on the phone, ensuring they sound natural speaking to your clients and focusing entirely on them. They should never sound like they are in a rush, because your customers will notice. If your business has regular callers, your ideal customer service advisor will get to know them on a personal level, including being on a first name basis and being aware of certain aspects of their life that could affect their relationship with your business.


2. Problem solving skills

No matter what business you are, problems will arise, and customers will ring up to find out what is wrong. No customer enjoys being passed along the chain when they have a problem. They want it sorted as efficiently as possible, not left on hold several times along the way.


Your customer service advisor should be able to solve the majority of problems without needing to pass the customer along. That requires them to have an aptitude for independent, critical thinking. This is essential –  so if someone does not demonstrate that aptitude, you should not hire them for this role


It’s obviously not always suitable that they solve the problem the customer has telephoned for assistance with. However, they should be able to offer some guidance and explain the process for dealing with the issue. In order to do this, advisors should have a full understanding of your businesses’ functions and services.


Finally – no scripts. Customers know the difference between genuine assistance and a hollow script. Allow your advisor to help the customer the best way possible and if they require a script, then offer that assistance, otherwise, keep the pitches and scripts away from the telephone.


3. Listening skills 

Customer service is about listening. Your business is there to serve your customers and their needs. Advisors should therefore be excellent listeners. This means devoting their undivided attention to the customer, listening carefully to their needs and responding effectively to what they need.


There are always tales from customers about their experiences with customer services who do not appear to have listened to them at all and instead try to either sell them another service (not when they are angry at you) and pass them along to someone else who actually cannot help them. That confusion can be deadly to your relationship with your customers.


Not being listened to is one of the biggest complaints when it comes to businesses losing not just the custom but also the trust and loyalty of customers. Customer service is about the person on the end of the phone who has placed their trust in you, and therefore you need your customer service advisor to treat that person with respect and care.


4. Collaboration skills

Teamwork in customer service is one of the most important aspects of the job. Your advisors will be on the phone to customers for much of their time, but they will also be a part of a team, and they need to be able to work effectively in that team.


If your advisor is going to understand what services and functions your business provides, they need to be able to communicate and work with each department within your business. That will require them to talk to senior members of those teams, but also other senior and junior advisors within their department. Your ideal advisor must be prepared to offer ideas and feedback on how the team and the business could improve.


5. Business comprehension skills

Businesses are more than the service they offer. They have a brand and a story to tell. They are run by people who have personal goals and intentions. These all feed into how a business behaves and what services and functions they offer to their customers.


Here is a list of the company’s aspects that are essential for them to do a good job:

  • Brand awareness
  • Understanding the company’s values, beliefs and ethics
  • Common sense to know which business practices make commercial sense and which should be avoided – provide feedback if necessary

Your customer service advisor will be the first point of contact for your customers, and therefore they need to be aware of all parts of your business in order to successfully carry out their job. This requires a good level of business understanding and comprehension, as well as a willingness to learn. 


There are clearly more diverse skills required for the role of customer service advisor, but at the core should be these five traits. If any of these traits are missing and the applicant is not willing to learn, they will not be a good fit for what you wish to achieve. If you do find the right person for the job, ensure they are effectively rewarded with proper pay, promotion and training opportunities. After all, they are building relationships with your clients and ensuring they remain loyal to you.