Providing appropriate and efficient customer service begins with having the right skills. In eCommerce, as in other industries, a customer service rep should fully comprehend the customer’s issue, empathize with them, and help them with a swift solution.
This guide article will pinpoint the skills that customer support agents need to shorten response times and improve customer satisfaction.
We’ll also share some best practices for maximizing the impact of these eCommerce customer service skills.
The 30 eCommerce Customer Service Skills To Master
Here’s what we think matters for customer delight, but we’re not ranking these skills in any order. All of them are essential, and none more so than the other.
1. Product knowledge
Beginning our list is one of the most important traits you can have as an eCommerce customer service rep. You must understand your products and services inside and out.
You have far more than a passing knowledge that anyone could glean by reading product descriptions online or paging through manuals. You have personally experienced these products and can answer obscure questions about them and how they work.
2. Active listening
Listening when someone talks does not necessarily make you an active listener. There’s a difference. For instance, when you actively listen, you fully grasp the concerns and needs of your customers. You answer the questions they ask and give them your full attention.
Active listening skills translate well to other areas of your professional and personal life, as you’ll become a better communicator by listening.
You must express empathy for your customer’s plight without veering into condescending territory. Part of empathy is sincerity, another eCommerce customer service skill we’ll discuss more later.
Being empathetic means showing understanding and sympathy for the customer’s plight. You’re putting yourself in their position and thinking about the situation from that perspective. This can also help you formulate a strong solution.
4. Time management
You only have so many hours in a shift, so if 30 customers need you, you must allocate time to help them all. You must also take time for breaks and eating. You don’t want to rush your customers off the phone, but you must get into a system of using only so much time per call.
You can improve this skill with time and practice.
Although you work independently, you’re part of a greater good on the customer service team. You must be able and willing to work with others to assist customers, whether you’re asked to assume a leadership role or someone else does.
Are you dedicated to your job? Like, truly, or because you’re supposed to be? Customers can distinguish between reps who phone it in to get a paycheck and those who are passionate about what they do.
Everything about a dedicated, passionate rep comes across differently. They answer the phone enthusiastically, take a vested interest in a customer’s problems, offer several solutions to find something that suits the customer and follow up afterward to ensure their solutions work.
Dedication is less a skill you can learn and more a mindset you can adapt. Once you do, it should begin paying back dividends.
Working as a customer service rep in eCommerce is hard. People call you when they’re having difficulties with their purchase and are usually already in a lousy mood. They might be looking to take the blame out on someone. You’re usually the punching bag and the scapegoat.
That can be a lot to take on daily, but you must remain positive in the face of adversity. No matter how grumpy a customer is, your positivity can never waver.
You must not get frustrated even if they’ve tried several solutions and none have solved their problems. Continue trying something else until you fix their issue.
Active listening is a pillar of attentiveness but not the only facet. When you’re attentive, you willingly commit yourself to the customer and only the customer. You’re not looking at your to-do list, you’re not checking open tickets.
In other words, you’re not tackling other tasks in the background. You’ve got the customer’s information pulled up, and that’s it. You’re giving them the time they deserve.
Recalling that eCommerce customer service calls can really push your buttons, you must be more than positive but calm.
Customers can raise their voices, but you should never raise yours. They might call you names and curse at you (hopefully not, but it can happen if tensions run high), but your cooler head must prevail.
10. Emotional intelligence
Having emotional intelligence enables emotional management. You understand how you feel and can control your emotions well, which helps you do the same with your customers.
For example, if a customer who yells at you doesn’t get a rise out of you, your calmness can rub off on them, bringing them down.
When you talk, do people listen? The power of persuasion is a gift and one you must wield responsibly.
Your ability to persuade others influences their decision-making, whether you get them to agree to a certain solution or try a new product or service.
Persuasiveness is different than a salesy attitude. It isn’t pushy or in-your-face. You state your case so well that people can’t help but feel motivated to do what you ask. It’s a skill worth strengthening, as harnessing it will take your eCommerce customer service career far.
12. Strong communication
You must be a great communicator to do well in customer service. Perhaps more so than any other required skill, this is the most important. After all, if you can’t communicate efficiently with others, you can’t serve them.
Being a strong communicator means understanding a customer’s concerns. You remember what they tried and what hasn’t worked. You don’t use jargon or technical terms when speaking to the customer.
You keep your language plain, your tone friendly, and your words easy to understand. You speak loudly, not enough to hurt someone’s ears, but loud enough that your customers can hear you on the other end of the line.
You have a broad vocabulary, and you pride yourself on your intelligence. You know synonyms for words, so a conversation with you feels fresh and varied, not stale and boring. You speak vivaciously, so your words never appear canned, stiff, and robotic.
Your unerring dedication to a task applies all throughout your life, not only in customer service. You’re determined to see something through when you start it, and your commitment means you’ll try whatever is in your power to reach the desired conclusion.
You understand that getting your customers to the finish line can sometimes be difficult, but you’re willing to put in the time and hard work every time you pick up the phone.
Your mind is always going, and while you practice active listening exceptionally well, you’re quick-thinking and ready to offer another solution if the first one fails or doesn’t please the customer.
Another eCommerce customer service skill you must possess is an upbeat attitude. Friendliness differs from positivity but relies on a happy mindset to put your best face forward.
You’ll greet the customers warmly when they pick up the phone and ask them how their day is going. You’ll retort or perhaps banter momentarily (within the confines of professionalism), which shows you care about how your customer is doing and don’t ask just to ask.
You do your best to serve your customers, never losing your smile. You’re courteous from the beginning until the end of the conversation, but it never comes across as forced or fake.
Things won’t always go your way. What do you do in a bad situation? You must be resilient. You can take a moment to assess the situation, think of it logically, and light upon a new perspective.
You don’t quit when the going gets tough. You get going.
16. Conflict resolution
Conflict is an unfortunate part of eCommerce customer service. While it would be nice if every customer were in a chipper mood when they call you, we already established that won’t be the case.
Diffusing the situation is a great start, but you can take conflict resolution further. You can hear your customer’s side of things, reflect their words back to them, and clarify that you have a solution that will help.
Conflict resolution skills are excellent for all interpersonal issues on a professional and personal level.
17. Problem solving
This is a given. Your job as a customer service rep is listening to and solving customer issues. However, problem-solving skills are nuanced. You don’t necessarily recommend the first solution that comes to mind.
Instead, you review your customer data, consider the challenges they’re discussing on the call today, and tailor your recommendations to their needs and pain points.
18. Sales skills
You might not be in the sales department, but you still need sales skills as an eCommerce customer service rep. Sales skills include persuasiveness, active listening, time management, communication, and problem-solving.
You also need leadership qualities and negotiation abilities.
19. Quick decision-making
To serve as many customers as you can per day, you can’t linger long on decisions. You must be ready to act and feel sure that you made the right decision. You will improve your decision-making skills the longer you work in this position.
You can’t persuade anyone to believe anything you say without a healthy dose of confidence. Self-esteem makes you assured of yourself, including your skills and abilities. That makes it easier for you to serve customers.
You’ll also have faith in your recommendations and solutions, which should ensure the same for your customers.
You never know what a customer will say when you pick up the phone to serve them, so you can’t rely on a script to solve a customer’s woes. Being adaptable and flexible benefits you when speaking to customers, as you can swap your game plan around as needed without getting flustered.
22. Eager to learn
A good eCommerce customer service rep accepts that they don’t know everything and wishes to expand.
You should spend at least some of your personal time improving your skills, whether you take a class on communicating, listen to podcasts about mindfulness and empathy, or read up on customer service trends.
Your dedication to your craft will show when you consistently deliver results and generate positive reviews for your company.
23. Social cue reading
You might only ever communicate with your customers verbally, never seeing their faces, but you’re exceptional at reading social cues. It’s in what a customer says and how they say it, but sometimes, it’s just as much about what they don’t say.
For example, when a customer trails off or leaves a pregnant pause, you can tell something is bothering them or there’s something more they wish they could say.
You can extract information from a customer. They feel comfortable talking to you, so they volunteer information more readily.
It isn’t always like pulling teeth, but when it is, you’re ready to do so without encroaching on a customer’s territory and making them uncomfortable.
You respect their boundaries and don’t step over them.
You must be professional in your job. Professionalism means answering calls promptly, stating your name, and referring to the caller as “sir” or “ma’am.” You can lightly break the ice, but don’t veer off-topic for long.
Being a professional means never asking invasive or personal questions, avoiding bad language, and speaking informally but not too informally.
25. Capable of explaining clearly
You’re also excellent at explaining concepts even if you can’t illustrate them. Your customers understand your points, and they listen when you talk about the benefits of a product.
You also have the comprehension skills to keep a conversation moving swiftly toward a resolution.
26. Able to take constructive criticism
This isn’t so much that your customers will give you constructive criticism, but your teammates and boss. When you receive constructive criticism, you can separate your ego and personal feelings from the feedback.
You can understand that while the feedback isn’t always pleasant to hear, it’s not designed to demean you or make you feel bad but to help you do your job even better.
You can take the feedback and implement it, continually growing and improving.
27. Good at teaching
As a customer service rep, you must have instructional and teaching abilities. Remember, you don’t have the benefit of face-to-face communication, so you must be clear in all you say and recommend to your customers.
If you’re talking about a product in a line or series, you must be clear about which one you mean. When you recommend a troubleshooting step, you should explain yourself wholly so the customer can follow your instructions.
A sincere attitude is at the core of all you do in eCommerce customer service. When you express sincerity towards someone, they will know it, so your customers can tell when you genuinely want good outcomes for them versus being eager to rush them off the phone.
It’s not easy to admit you made a mistake or can’t serve a customer how you envisioned, but it’s a must. Honesty is always the best policy, as the saying goes.
The customer will find out sooner than later that the product they ordered is out of stock and so is their second pick, so being upfront can help you navigate toward a solution sooner.
Finally, you must practice compassion. If empathy is awareness of someone else’s emotions, compassion is the urge to help and the actions you take to do so. It’s the basis of who you are as a customer service representative.
Best Practices for Masterful eCommerce Customer Service
How can you improve your customer support skills for eCommerce customers? Here are some best practices to incorporate into your routine.
Create a Knowledge Base
Your service team can greatly benefit from having a knowledge base.
The knowledge base should contain all the information customers frequently search for with answers. Customers who visit your website might not need to call you if they can find the information they seek through the knowledge base.
However, a knowledge base is only as helpful as the information therein. You must keep the information current, updating it and adding new articles as your company expands.
Staying focused on the task and being a better listener and communicator is easier in a quiet environment.
You might work in a cubicle with others chatting all around you, and while you can’t do anything about that, you can reduce your own distractions and create tranquility.
Turn off the podcast, music, or YouTube video you’re watching. Take out your earbuds. Don’t surf the internet or scroll through your phone when talking to a customer.
Practice mindfulness and tune out the murmur of voices from your coworkers.
Retool your language
Positivity and friendliness come across in what you say, so watch your words. Even saying something like, “I’m not sure if I can help you, but I’ll do my best,” isn’t positive language.
Instead, try telling the customer, “I’ll do everything I can to fix this for you.” It’s a subtle but meaningful difference. You might struggle with this at first, which is only natural. Try pausing between sentences and thinking before you speak to determine if what you’re about to say is negative.
Once you begin talking more positively, it will feel natural, and you won’t have to think about it.
Practice active listening
Take the time to commit to becoming an active listener and watch how it pays back dividends in your eCommerce customer service career.
Here are some tips for working on active listening:
- Tune out your thoughts when the other person is speaking.
- Don’t think about what you’ll say in response to them. Rather, just focus on their words.
- Make eye contact (if possible).
- Don’t interject or interrupt. Wait until they ask for your thoughts or opinions.
- Show the speaker you’re listening to them by nodding your head or saying “okay” or “mmhmm.”
- Don’t judge while you’re listening; just listen.
Do you take too long on calls? You might fail to meet your boss’s quotas, which can put you at the bottom of the pack. Your performance must match your team’s other customer service reps, or your job could be on the chopping block, so how do you speed up your calls without sacrificing quality?
We recommend timing yourself to see how long your calls are. Then, deduce how you can lessen the time spent on each call without rushing someone off the line.
eCommerce customer service skills aren’t always innate and might require extra time and dedication to master. However, with each of these skills you pick up that you lacked before, you become a more efficient customer service rep!