Critical Leadership Skills for Customer Service

July 2, 2019

Customer service team

A top-performing customer service team is a key part of a successful organization. And a great customer service leader recognizes the value of her team, encourages them to share honestly without fear of repercussion, and offers the support and training they need to continually meet customers’ needs.

Customer service requires empathy and the ability to listen. If a woman is “naturally” more empathetic, that may help her in this role, but she’ll still need to learn active listening skills and the ability to resolve problems. If she’s tasked with selling as well, that’s another skill to be learned.

Delivering great customer service

Several AMA instructors who teach AMA’s customer service seminars weighed in on what makes a great customer service team and a good customer service team leader. Here are some of their key points:

Know the value you bring. Customer service representatives are the face of the organization and account for 78% of a positive customer experience, Amalia Moukas, an AMA facilitator and an independent learning and development consultant, wrote in an email interview.

Beyond that, good customer service “shows in an increase in sales, referrals, [and] repeat customers,” said Bev Bahmanyari, an AMA instructor.

Motivate your team to share knowledge—and just share. Hazel Wagner, PhD, MBA, an AMA instructor and owner of the consulting company B9D, Inc., recommended scheduling regular meetings for the team to exchange ideas and talk about problems. “The sharing across the team builds the camaraderie, and everybody learns from everybody else’s sharing,” she pointed out.

These meetings are a time for the supervisor to recognize a person’s success and let the whole team know about it. If a mistake was made, the leader can use it as a team learning experience instead of casting blame. As Wagner notes, this can only happen in an atmosphere where people know they can share about a setback and not be punished. “Every leader wants to make sure that the people who work for him or her tell them when things don’t go well. If they hide it those can be ‘gotchas’ later,” she said.

Develop your listening and communication skills. The business environment today is customer-oriented, so “people skills” are critical for success, said Rita Witherly, an AMA facilitator and a managing partner at MoZen Inc.

Good listening means asking good, open-ended questions, letting the other person talk, and then asking further questions, Bahmanyari said. “Your main motivation should be ‘How can I fill their needs?’ And in order to do that, you’ve got to find out what their needs are,” she added.

Provide ongoing training. People often underestimate the importance of skilled customer service, but it’s often what separates companies that succeed from those that fail, Moukas said. A company that trains its customer service team will have a strong advantage. It could see not only increased profit but also improved employee motivation and engagement, she said.


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AMA’s Women’s Leadership Center is committed to training women for leadership positions. WLC offers classroom seminars, memberships for individual women, and packages for businesses that want to train multiple female employees.

About The Author

Jan Arzooman is a proofreader, copyeditor, and writer in AMA’s creative services/marketing department. She has worked in editorial for more than 20 years. Arzooman also is a visual artist.

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