When it comes to customer service training, the majority of businesses place a strong emphasis on developing so-called “hard skills”. After all, these are the specific technical skills that are required to perform a particular customer service role, and these are the skills that are less likely to have been worked on by recruits already.
However, it is important to remember that soft skills, which are less job-specific, can and should also be developed. In fact, soft skills training can be especially important in customer service positions, as these are the skills that will help staff in their daily interactions with customers.
What Is Soft Skills Training?
Essentially, soft skills training is a form of training which helps to develop a person’s emotional intelligence quotient. It can be included in customer service courses, but can also be carried out independently. Examples of soft skills include communication, problem solving, time management and leadership.
For instance, to help staff to improve their communication skills, you might have them carry out customer service role-plays and then critique their phrasing, their body language and their tone. Crucially, in today’s working environment, soft skills can also come into play through email, live chat ad social media interactions.
“No matter how customer service is given to consumers, soft skills are essential for a successful customer service interaction,” says Mary Shulzhenko, assistant marketing director at Provide Support, LLC.
Why Does Your Team Need It?
When it comes to delivering excellent customer service, it is of course important that your staff are knowledgeable and able to help customers with any problems. However, perhaps even more important than that is the way in which your staff make customers feel. That is where soft skills come into play.
Put simply, every interaction a customer has with your staff will impact their opinion of your company. Many consumers can forgive a staff member needing to ask a colleague for help to tackle a problem, but very few will tolerate rudeness, poor communication or general incompetence.
Moreover, soft skills training has the ability to impact the overall success of your business. At the Australian division of pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, for example, staff members were given soft skills training and the firm subsequently experienced a 12 percent increase in sales. Similar results were also seen at L’Oreal, where agents with soft skills training sold $91,370 more than colleagues who had not been through the training.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specialises in providing exceptional customer service courses and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership skills training.