5 useful customer service skills

Whether you’re looking to hire a new employee and want to know what to look for in interviews or simply want to improve your team’s performance, these customer service skills are the ones you should focus on.

Delighting your customers and inspiring them to make purchases over and over again requires knowledge of human psychology. While you might not have the resources to enroll your team in a psychology class, we have the customer service tips that can be translated into skills you can show them.

The two underlying customer service skills are patience and an interest in helping in a compassionate way. Once your employees have these two pillars of customer service down, it’s time to get to work mastering the rest.


Walking into a business and hearing “hello,” “good morning,” “welcome,” can start off customer interactions on the right foot. Customers want to be acknowledged and catered to. Greetings should always be cheerful and within close range, if possible.

No customer wants to hear a mumbled “hi” from an employee in the back corner scrolling through Instagram. Your employees need to get up and greet the customer, making the interaction more human. Then they can see the customer’s facial expressions and get a better idea of why they came in.

A customer’s frown could mean that they have a return and a product didn’t meet their needs. Or maybe they’re in a time crunch and need to get back to their car before the meter runs out. Making this initial greeting in close proximity is the best way to get a feel for how to best help that specific customer.

Asking the right questions

Once the customer is in the door and has been greeted warmly, it’s time to get down to business. Based on the first interaction with a customer, your employee can get a feel for their reason for stopping in. Unless they tell your employee straight away what they need, they’ll need to ask a number of questions to determine how to help them.

What are they looking for today? Is it a gift? Have they purchased anything from your business before? What about the weather or season could influence what they’re looking for today? These questions can be tailored to better fit the products or services your business sells, but what holds true across business types is that asking the right questions helps them figure out how to customize service for that specific customer.

Being attuned to customer needs is an essential customer service skill. Conduct roleplays with a number of different situations to explore the different ways your team can improve how they approach customers.


This customer service skill will serve employees well, no matter the industry. When they’re able to fully listen to a customer’s needs and even read between the lines when they’re uncertain of what they’re looking for, they’ll be able to address them fully.

Listening is the perfect pair to the previous skill because it allows you to get the most out of the customer interaction. Does a customer say they’re looking for one thing, but describe a problem that an alternate product will solve? Your team should let them know that they’re listening and recommend what they believe will best fit their needs.

Positive framing

Customers will come into your business with any number of problems and sometimes what you have on the menu or in stock will be the root of it. Putting a positive spin on the situation will hopefully improve the customer’s reaction and could even lead to an alternate sale.

In every foodservice business and retail store, your team will have to tell your customers that you are out of the dish or item that they wanted. How they deliver the news will impact how the customer takes the news.

Just as they should be giving targeted recommendations based on what they learn from asking the right questions, make additional recommendations. They could suggest a similar item so that the customer doesn’t have an immediate reason to walk out the door.

However, if they are set on that specific item, frame the conversation around when it will be back in stock and how long it can be kept on hold. This shows that your team is taking action. 

Taking responsibility

From time to time your team will do something wrong. We’re all human, so they should apologize and take action to correct the situation as soon as possible. If you own a cafe and an employee made someone’s drink with the wrong kind of milk, they should first take responsibility. Then, they should  make their drink right the second time.

If your business allows it, maybe offer to give them the next size up for the mistake. This customer service skill will show that your team strives to make the customer happy no matter what. 

There are endless customer service skills that your team can work on to make sure your customers keep coming back. These five are just the tip of the iceberg. Have some customer service skills you think others should know? Feel free to leave a comment with your must-have skill.

Customer service skills are a must, so is effortless time tracking and scheduling. Homebase can help – get started for free.

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