Unlocking GREAT customer service skills

Whatever your business, whether you’re offering goods or services or both, sales and marketing are critically activities – the results go straight to your bottom line. However, long-term success involves looking beyond purchases and taking care of the longer-term customer relationship. The customer’s experience during the purchase process determine how they feel about you as a business – how you deliver is as important as what you deliver. And the ‘how’ is where customer service skills come into their own.

Maybe your whole team already has (and consistently uses) ninja-level customer service skills. More likely, different individuals have their differing strengths… and differing areas for development.

The trick is in first identifying which part of the process (the customer ‘life cycle’) they could improve and need support with.

So, let’s break it down…

The sale

While many see sales and customer service as distinct disciplines, the truth is, service comes before a sale. In fact, without good service, a sale is less likely to happen. At the risk of seeming immodest, our core sales skill set and customer service skills overlap – they’re both GREAT:

  • Greet
  • Recognise needs
  • Empathise
  • Act
  • Thank

Applying this mnemonic helps show your interest in the customer and their situation, learn about their needs (both stated and unstated), and earn their trust so they feel confident in their purchase decision. Our GREAT sales talk event helps achieve sales through service.

A particular aspect of customer conversations that many find difficult or uncomfortable is talking about money. Whether we’re talking pricing or discounts (or compensation for a problem) money talk can be uncomfortable. For anyone having customer conversations with a financial element, our GREAT money talk training can boost confidence, enable open and honest conversations, and help demonstrably balance customer and commercial needs.

Building the relationship

In the current pandemic world (are we in post-pandemic yet?) much less business is done face to face, with an understandable shift to interactions online or by phone. That means an extra set of communication challenges compared to in-person conversations.

For anyone providing customer service in writing – whether it be via email, instant messages or chat, or good old-fashioned letter – our GREAT writing programme helps you identify ALL the customer’s needs and concerns, enabling you to respond fully and empathetically while staying on-brand, and using clear English to get your messages across.

Websites, messaging, chatbots, and so on are all great ways to communicate with customers but sometimes you can’t beat a conversation with a human being and many customers are more comfortable calling to find out what they need to know. That’s were our GREAT phone calls event comes in, helping you understand the nuances of verbal communication (including your ‘vocal dashboard’) and using it to build connection and trust.


Nothing is always plain sailing and the customer relationship is no exception. Sometimes things get heated (or at least, have the potential to) and your people need to know how to manage the situation, preferably without losing the customer.

When a customer is upset, angry or disappointed, our GREAT diplomacy training helps you stay calm and in control, use non-confrontational language, and empathetically shift the conversation towards a more collaborative mode.

If a customer situation has got as far as a formal complaint, don’t despair. It may be a cliché but a complaint really is an opportunity – handle it well and the customer is more loyal than ever. It’s all about adopting a complementary approach depending on where the customer (and their personality) are coming from. Use key questioning and listening skills to understand the situation accurately and in depth. Then offer an apology and solution in a way that brings them round. All of which we cover in our GREAT complaints event.

Going the distance

Of course, none of your people are just focused on a single customer relationship – they’re juggling dozens every day, and that can be wearing (especially with those occasional conflict or complaint scenarios). That’s where resilience is needed. They need to manage their own attitudes, responses and mindset, stay buoyant, and treat each transaction or interaction as fresh. Which is where our interactive GREAT resilience training comes in, helping your people to not get worn down but instead stay ready for anything.

But sometimes, you don’t ‘go the distance’ because the customer needs a different person or a different department. The problem is (or can be) that being ‘passed around’ is one of the most irritating experiences for the customer. GREAT hand-overs helps you to manage that process seamlessly without the customer getting frustrated or falling through the cracks, and setting up the ‘receiving’ colleague for success.


As you can see from the plethora of links above, The Customer Service Training Company has you covered, whatever your individual or group development needs. Check out our range of customer-focused training options, or give us a call on 01582 463464; we’re here to help.

Categories: Customer service

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