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Excellent Customer Service – Natural or Learned?

It’s the age-old question: nature or nurture? That is, are our traits the result of our genes - our innate abilities and tendencies – or are they related to our environment and how we were raised? It’s a query that’s provided psychologists with much to debate and study. And, as it turns out, a similar question exists for customer service representatives. Are excellent customer service skills natural or can they be learned?

Much like the nature or nurture debate, the answer to this question is: a bit of both. While certain inherent traits might make you more successful at the job, it’s certainly possible to learn numerous skills and techniques that will allow you to deliver great customer service and excel in your position.

What might come naturally?

Some people really enjoy interacting with others and feel energized and motivated following a great conversation. Others find these interactions to be draining and take quite a lot of energy. They might require some amount of time after a conversation to recharge. The first person – the one who feels energized from being around others – would be known as an extrovert while the second is usually called an introvert. You might strongly identify with one of these descriptions, or you might feel like each label could describe you, depending on the day or situation. These aren’t necessarily distinct categories; that is, a person can have both extrovert and introvert characteristics.

As you might guess from the description of these personality types, extroverts could find delivering customer service to be a bit easier or more natural compared to introverts. This is not to say that if you’re introverted, customer service isn’t the field for you! Rather, introverts might need a bit of extra support or strategizing to ensure they’re able to interact with others all day without draining themselves.

What Might Come Naturally?

Introversion shouldn’t be thought of as a weakness. Indeed, there are many advantages to being an introvert. For instance, some researchers believe that introverts tend to:

  • reflect thoughtfully before decisions
  • be excellent listeners
  • be very self-aware

These are all skills that will help you thrive in a customer service position. Extroverts tend to:

  • be outgoing
  • be action-oriented
  • be great at communication

Since, according to Microsoft, one-third of consumers value a friendly representative as the most important aspect of customer service, this natural tendency to socialize and connect with others can lend itself well to delivering great service.

Regardless of which label you might identify with, there are likely benefits from your inherent personality that can help you to be a customer service superstar. It’s important to note though, that just as being introverted isn’t a weakness, being outgoing isn’t a guarantee of customer service success. An outgoing, fun personality without proper customer service training can still result in poor service.

Choose your attitude

In addition to the traits that you naturally have, there are a huge variety of skills that can be learned to help you deliver fantastic service. The key with these though, is that unlike with your natural personality traits, these skills must be deliberately developed and implemented. Learning to be great at customer service requires effort, though it’s sure to be worthwhile.

One simple way to improve your service is to choose a positive attitude. Be kind to customers and colleagues, decide to respond positively, even in challenging situations, and uplift others. Having a great attitude will help in situations you might struggle in as well. For instance, if you’re not quite sure how to handle a particular customer request, but you keep a positive attitude, employ your best listening skills, and tell the customer your plan of action to find a solution, the customer is likely to feel that you cared about them and consider it a great customer service experience.

Listen up

Another essential skill for any customer service representative is the ability to listen actively. Active listening requires using nonverbal cues to demonstrate interest and attention, paraphrasing or echoing information back to the customer and eliminating distractions. This is a crucial skill and one that’s unlikely to come naturally to most people given that we’re generally inclined to insert information about ourselves into conversations. In customer service though, the information the customer is telling you is the key to solving their problem – listen intently!

To learn about the numerous other skills that customer service representatives should develop to enhance their natural ability, contact a ServiceSkills representative today and request a free demo of the Service Matters Roundtable series. This is a unique peer-to-peer training series that allows your team to learn directly from real service representatives in their own words.

Be sure to check out these additional videos and posts from our ServiceMatters Roundtable from the team at ServiceSkills: