5 Soft skills to succeed in customer service

Organisations, including tech giants like Google, Apple, IBM, and many financial institutions like Santander, are redefining their recruitment criteria. The once-central emphasis on educational degrees is giving way to a more nuanced evaluation of an applicant’s skill set. This transformation is echoed by HR leaders such as Janelle Gale, a senior HR exec at Meta (formerly Facebook), who underscores the importance of skills over traditional markers like job titles and company names.

Soft skills for customer service

As the working world continues to undergo this metamorphosis, the spotlight is increasingly shifting to the skills individuals bring to the table. In this era of skill-centric recruitment, the ability to contribute meaningfully to an organisation is gaining precedence. 

In this article we take a quick look at some of the top soft skills that are (in our rather extensive recruitment experience) highly desired for anyone working in customer service roles. These skills not only define the trajectory of a successful customer service career but also underscore a broader shift in the professional landscape – one where the value of soft skills is increasingly recognised as playing an instrumental role in organisational success.

Here is our top 5 list of soft skills that employers are looking for when working in customer service:

1. Creativity

Creativity is a vital soft skill in customer service, offering a unique set of advantages to personnel in these roles. In this context, creativity manifests as the ability to find innovative solutions tailored to individual customer needs. Customer service representatives equipped with a creative mindset can transform routine interactions into more personalised experiences, fostering customer satisfaction and contributing to a more positive brand image. 

Creativity is particularly valuable when it comes to problem-solving, allowing employees to address challenges with novel approaches, turning moments of dissatisfaction into opportunities for improvement and building lasting customer loyalty. In a dynamic customer service environment, creativity emerges as a key driver for success, enabling adaptability, innovation, and an enhanced customer experience.

2. Communication

Effective communication, particularly the art of persuasion, is a cornerstone skill for excelling in customer service roles. Being a persuasive communicator enables you to easily convey complex information, address concerns, and influence outcomes in a compelling and satisfactory manner. Whether navigating delicate situations or upselling products, the ability to articulate ideas persuasively allows customer service representatives to guide interactions positively.

In customer service, persuasion is a powerful tool for resolving issues, as representatives can diplomatically communicate solutions, turning potential dissatisfaction into customer satisfaction. Moreover, persuasive communication is instrumental in showcasing the value of products or services, allowing representatives to not only meet but exceed customer expectations.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork is a foundational soft skill that plays a pivotal role in the success of individuals working in customer service. In a customer-centric environment, collaboration among team members is essential for delivering seamless and consistent experiences. Effective teamwork enables customer service personnel to share insights, pool resources, and collectively address challenges, resulting in improved problem-solving and quicker resolutions.

In customer service, where diverse skills and perspectives are crucial, teamwork ensures that the team collectively contributes to a positive customer experience. The ability to collaborate effectively also promotes knowledge sharing, allowing team members to stay informed about products, services, and best practices, which in turn empowers them to provide more informed and helpful assistance to customers. Ultimately, teamwork in customer service acts as the linchpin for creating a cohesive, responsive, and customer-focused team that elevates the overall quality of service provided.

Looking to develop your team? Check out our team building workshop to find out more.

4. Adaptability

The ability to adapt is particularly crucial when dealing with diverse customer personalities, inquiries, or unexpected issues. Being adaptable allows customer service personnel to maintain composure in high-pressure situations and find effective solutions swiftly. Furthermore, in an ever-evolving business environment, adaptability is essential for staying current with company policies, product updates, and industry trends, ensuring that representatives can provide accurate and up-to-date information to customers.

In essence, adaptability in customer service is the linchpin for responsiveness and resilience, enabling personnel to navigate a range of scenarios with flexibility and efficiency. This soft skill not only enhances the customer experience but also contributes to the overall agility and success of a customer service team.

5. Time planning

Time planning is a fundamental and often overlooked skill that significantly contributes to the success of individuals in customer service roles. In a fast-paced environment where efficiency is paramount, effective time planning enables customer service personnel to manage their tasks, prioritise responsibilities, and deal with customer queries in a timely manner.

Proficient time planning ensures that representatives can allocate sufficient time to each customer interaction, delivering quality service without unnecessary delays. This skill is particularly crucial in handling high call volumes, responding to inquiries promptly, and maintaining a balance between addressing customer needs and adhering to company policies.


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