What’s the difference between providing good customer service and providing excellent customer service?

Customer service reps.

They have the power to take you from an average team that does a pretty good job solving problems for customers to a branding supercharger that increases customer loyalty and boosts referrals.

But what separates the best customer service reps from the rest?

It all comes down to the skills that each rep possesses. The best reps have a certain set of personality traits that help them resolve problems efficiently and effectively, while developing meaningful relationships with customers.

So what customer service skills do the best reps possess?

Let’s find out…

Essential Customer Service Skills


First and foremost, when consumers talk to customer service, they want to talk to a real person. Nobody wants to be routed through a phone tree and put on hold for half an hour only to be greeted by a person who sounds like a robot reading off of a script.

As a customer service rep, you need to be human. Remind the customer that they’re talking to a living, breathing human being. That doesn’t mean you have to stay on the phone for 10 hours getting to know the customer, but you shouldn’t try to rush them off the phone as quickly as possible either. While you do want to resolve problems efficiently and have a low average handle time, you should make an effort to be real with customers and talk to them human-to-human.


For the most part, consumers only call customer service when something goes wrong and they’re upset about it. It’s important for customer service reps to maintain a positive attitude when talking to disgruntled customers.

The last thing you want to do is make them more upset. By reassuring the customer that you can resolve their issue, you’ll help them understand that everything’s going to be okay. Even if there are obstacles to resolving their problem, they’re not worth dwelling on when explaining the situation to the customer. It’s better to focus on your ability to find a solution in a timely manner.


Given the nature of their role, customer service reps need to have a firm grasp on their workload. A lack of responsibility is bound to result in unresolved cases, reopened cases, and unhappy customers, which nobody wants.

The first steps in resolving problems for customers involve identifying that a problem exists, realizing that you’re capable of finding a solution to it, and acknowledging that it’s your job to take care of it. After taking initial responsibility for issues, you need to see the problem through and make sure that the customer gets the answer they were looking for.


The day-to-day life of a customer service rep involves talking to many customers and co-workers about a wide variety of issues. There’s a lot to keep track of – no doubt.

In order to get anything done, it’s critical to have your work organized, prioritize certain tasks, and know exactly what you need to accomplish. Otherwise, cases could get forgotten and some customers may never have their issues resolved – and that’s just inexcusable.


Before resolving a problem (of any sort), you need to learn everything you can about it. You need to deeply understand why and how the problem occurred.

As a customer service rep, you need to understand what the customer is experiencing. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what they’re going through. You should think of their problem as if it’s your problem because – well – it is.


Nobody ever wants to be ignored, especially when dealing with customer service. That’s why being put on hold is so frustrating.

If you’re going to understand each customer’s problem, you need to listen carefully to what they’re telling you. When they speak to you, give them your undivided attention – they deserve it. Customers shouldn’t have to repeat themselves. Stop trying to multi-task, and focus entirely on absorbing information when a customer opens their mouth.


When consumers reach out to customer service, they’re looking for reassurance. They want to know that you’re going to get things back on track.

You need to be confident in your ability to resolve issues for customers, and you need to show it. Even if a customer has a problem you’ve never encountered before, you can’t let it rattle you. It’s important to maintain the customer’s trust at all times.


Some problems can be solved easily, while others…not so much.

When a customer has a problem that you don’t know the answer to, you need to use your accessible resources to track down a solution. This could involve digging in to your product, talking to your engineers, or asking more experienced reps on your team for assistance.


In a perfect world, every customer issue ends in a first contact resolution. But that will never happen. In reality, most problems take some time to resolve.

When working with customers, it’s important to remember to be patient. It’s okay if you can’t resolve their problem immediately. It’s better to take your time and resolve issue thoroughly than to rush to find the first potential solution and calling it quits.


Sure, everyone (in every industry) wants to work with smart people. And yes, obviously the best customer service reps tend to be pretty bright. But you don’t have to be a genius to be an intelligent customer service rep.

Intelligence, for customer service reps, means product knowledge. The best reps spend time learning the product inside and out. By continually acquiring product knowledge, reps are empowering themselves to resolve a wider range of issues.


Revealing solutions to complex problems for customers requires a certain desire to experiment and learn new things.

Being genuinely curious about your company’s product(s) will make you a more effective customer service rep. Sure, finding a solution to a problem will be satisfying, but the process that takes you there should be just as rewarding.


When consumers reach out to customer service, they’re usually never happy. They may even say some offensive or inappropriate things.

Don’t take these jabs personally. It’s best to shrug off any insults or snide remarks and put your next foot forward. Focus on resolving the problem, not on how the mean customer hurt your feelings.

Sense of Humor

When the timing is right, it’s okay to be funny. But don’t try to force a knock-knock joke to try to get a customer to cool down.

If a customer is calm and the conversation is relaxed, then it can help show your personality to crack a joke here and there. This can improve your relationship with the customer and make them feel more connected to your brand.

Want to learn more about customer service skills?

Check out this free infographic on the Anatomy of a Customer Service Rep.