For most of us, when we think about learning new skills for our roles, we want to pick up extra hard skills. But that might not be where we should spend our effort.
Hard skills are measurable and easily demonstrated: typing skills, foreign language, etc. They can be taught in schools and to learn a new hard skill might be an easy goal.
Soft skills are more difficult to quantify or teach: teamwork, flexibility, etc. But how do you measure them?
Because soft skills can be more difficult to quantify, they can get neglected in personal development goals. Your review might focus on numbers and ignore improvement in patience. This imbalance makes it difficult to understand what skills are required to be successful in customer service.
In this post, we explore which skills are important and how you can develop your own skill set.
What skills are required to be successful in customer service?
As Peggy Klus states in her book The Hard Truth About Soft Skills ‘’soft skills allow you to more effectively use your technical abilities and knowledge.’’
In customer service job posting, you usually see a mixture of hard and soft skills required. Note that a lot of the hard skills are listed as ‘’bonus.’’ That’s probably because it’s easier to teach someone how to work with some program than to hire someone with poor communication skills.
A large majority of your time in customer service is spent interacting with the public. While hard skills are valuable, customer service runs on soft skills. And as you progress in your career, soft skills become more important.
Highlight soft skills on your resume
It’s harder to present soft skills than hard skills. The trick is to think about what your soft skills allowed you to accomplish. If you think you have great negotiation skills, were you able to use them to retain more customers? Don’t just say you have empathy or teamwork skills. Explain what you’ve done with them in the past.
Are soft skills trainable?
To learn soft skills is possible, it just takes time and effort. The only way to improve your soft skills is to continually use them. The more you purposely practice using your soft skills, the faster they’ll improve.
Thinking about it like learning a different language is helpful. It might be scary to try speaking a foreign language you don’t know well, but over time you’ll make fewer mistakes until it feels natural.
Also, it’s important to find what works for you. The first step comes from self-awareness – realizing when you’re not exhibiting the behavior you want to practice.
Understand the value of soft skills
If you think of ‘’soft’’ skills, you probably think of a happy smiling ‘’people-person.’’ But soft skills are much more than just being nice. Customer service agents deescalate bad situations, advocate for customers internally and communicate complex ideas to non-technical customers.
That’s why it’s important that everyone in customer service understands the value of flexing their soft skills. They aren’t easily acquired and not everyone has them. But by emphasizing the importance of soft skills we can all work better, together!