No matter what administrative job you hold, you’re in a key customer service role. You’re on the front lines interacting with clients, vendors, employees and others, and your customer service skills can shape how they view your department or company.
An OfficeTeam survey shows just how important customer service skills can be, as nearly half (45 percent) of the senior managers surveyed said those abilities lead to effective problem solving, followed by increased customer/client satisfaction (38 percent) and better collaboration (17 percent).
According to the OfficeTeam Salary Guide, customer service professionals are in high demand, as companies seek empathetic customer-facing support teams. However, as anyone who works in the administrative or customer service profession knows, this job has its challenges, with difficult people and situations that put your customer service skills to the test.
Do you possess the following qualities that can help you provide excellent customer service?
Empathy for customers
How can you show customers you care about solving their problems or concerns with your company? An understanding and patient attitude can be a key difference between a good and bad customer experience.
I once experienced vastly different degrees of empathy contacting the same company over a billing problem. The first person I spoke to was apologetic that her employer had double billed me for two months and spent 45 minutes on the phone trying to resolve the problem. I was wowed by her caring attitude and attentiveness. The next day, I had a follow-up question and spoke with another employee, who denied I had talked to anyone at the company the previous day. When realizing her mistake, she told me I needed to be more patient for everything to be fixed.
Empathy? Not so much. I was ready to cancel our contract with the company but decided to give them a second chance based solely on the excellent customer service the first employee provided. Be that difference-maker through empathy.
An open mind
Even if you feel criticism is unwarranted, avoid getting defensive and listen. Welcome feedback from others about ways you and your company can improve.
In an OfficeTeam survey of office workers, many of those polled said they appreciated when companies cared about what they had to say.
One worker we spoke to shared this example: "I had a poor experience at a coffee house where I was made to wait an excessively long time for a simple decaf coffee. I finally spoke up and asked about it — it had not even been started. I was extremely disappointed and I went home and emailed the company, indicating what had happened and that it was unacceptable. I made no requests. However, I got a response within 24 hours from customer service indicating that they had credited my gift card for $10, and the situation would be addressed at the store itself. I have been back to that location, and now they go out of their way to make sure my drink is not lost in the shuffle."
A can-do attitude
Are you a problem-solver? Those known for excellent customer service skills go the extra mile.
"I ordered some office supplies at home through a big company," said another worker. "After two weeks I still hadn't received them. I contacted the company, and they oversold the product online and just put the rest of us on hold. When I asked why, they put a $10 credit on my account and told me that they would order the products through another company and have them sent to my house at no extra charge."
You're quick to take corrective action, showing the customer that you — and your company — care about the problem and the customers' experience. Speedy turnaround when a complaint arises is an excellent customer service skill and will likely impress the customer, like the following example.
One worker describing an impressive customer service experience said, "A shipment was delayed, and a company sent me a replacement via next-day air — and didn't ask me to send back the original if it ever arrived."
If you have the skills to provide excellent customer service, you can help your firm keep its customers happy, bring in new business — and build a career you can be proud of.
Consider working with OfficeTeam, a proven leader in helping candidates like you find rewarding administrative career opportunities.
This post has been updated to reflect more current information.