Careers advice

The best customer service skills to include on your CV

How to get into this booming sector.

There’s a lot to love about working in customer service. You’ll learn heaps of transferable skills, you’ll be representing your company as the forward face of the business, and there are opportunities to make some decent money thanks to bonus and incentive schemes.

What’s more, the demand for customer service reps has been booming in New Zealand of late, meaning there are plenty of opportunities out there. Indeed, in Q1 of 2022, customer service roles increased by an enormous 51% when compared to the same time last year, according to data from Trade Me Jobs.

But what do employers really want from their customer service staff? Here, we’ll look at the most important customer service skills to include on your CV, so you can make your application as strong as possible.

You'll need to be adept at communicating using a variety of media.

Crucial customer service skills

1. Communication

This core soft skill is at the heart of a good customer service employee, but what do we really mean by ‘good’ communication? Here are a few of the component parts:

  • Listening: we all know how frustrating it can be to talk to a company rep that simply isn’t listening to what we’re saying. To offer a good customer experience, you’ll need to have a full understanding of the question/concern/complaint that the customer is putting across, so you’ll need to focus on the details of what they’re saying.
  • Empathy: after listening, you need to show that you hear where they’re coming from, and see things from their perspective. This is true even, and especially if, you know you aren’t going to be able to give the customer what they want. Imagine, for example, someone is asking for a refund that you know they aren’t entitled to. You still want to show that you value their custom and understand their disappointment, even if you can’t help them out.
  • Confidence: there are two elements to this. Firstly, confident communication means clear communication – losing the ‘umms’ and the ‘aahs’ and speaking eloquently will help your conversations with customers flow more naturally. Second, you need to be able to, politely, stand your ground, when you need to. Going back to our refund example, sometimes people will be cheeky and try to get a bit of extra value from the company, and it’s your job not to be pushed around.
  • Patience: we’re all human, and some interactions are simply more frustrating than others. However, patience is a core customer service skill because you can’t let frustration show. Not only is it seriously unprofessional to show your frustration with a customer, you’ll be making your own life tough because this reaction is likely to make a difficult customer even harder to deal with.

2. Time management

Today, customers expect near instantaneous responses when interacting with businesses. As such, you’ll need to be good at working through client comms quickly and decisively, without making people feel undervalued.

Many customer service managers implement targets for the number of calls/emails/social media messages they want their team to work through in a given time period (usually a day or a week). Exceeding your targets, or getting positive feedback from customers, is frequently rewarded with incentives – so a competitive edge is also a good trait!

3. Adaptability

People are unpredictable, and, as you’ll spend the vast majority of your 9-5 interacting with members of the public, you’ll need to be able to adapt to different situations very quickly. For example, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with a variety of customer interactions on very different subjects, at one time, using different media. Each of these customers will expect excellent service and for you to be fully engaged with them, when in reality you’ll have several plates in the air.

As such, you’ll need to be quick on your feet, without moving so fast that you make mistakes. So adaptability is key.

You'll need to adapt to different communication styles when interacting with custmers.

4. Business knowledge

As a customer service rep, you’ll need to be able to absorb and keep up-to-date with the things that matter to your customers – product updates, price points and any special offers or promotions that are currently running.

Often, you’ll be provided with scripts or updates in team meetings. The challenge is being able to hold onto this information and put it across in a way that doesn’t feel robotic, and is tailored to the unique situation of each individual customer.

5. Sales skills

Even though, as a customer service rep, your primary role isn’t to sell a product, you obviously want to encourage the people you interact with to either start, or continue, purchasing from the company.

As such, if you can demonstrate sales savvy on a customer service CV, you’re only going to be helping your chances of impressing the hiring manager. In many cases, This is a matter of knowing when to make the right offer at the right time, drawing on your communication skills and ability to read a customer and understand their needs.