21 Important Customer Service Skills (With Resume Example)

Audrey Eads

Updated January 11, 2023

Published September 7, 2018

Audrey Eads is an editor for Indeed with over eight years of experience writing and editing for media outlets across the country. Based in Austin, Texas, she particularly enjoys helping job seekers learn about the latest job trends.

A sales associate assists a customer in a retail store.

Customer service skills are traits and practices that equip you to address customer needs and foster a positive experience. In general, customer service skills rely heavily on problem-solving and communication. Customer service is often considered a “soft skill,” including traits like active listening and reading both verbal and nonverbal cues.

In this article, we discuss the definition of customer service and four key aspects of it, why it’s important, 21 essential customer service skills, how to improve your customer service skills and how to incorporate them into your resume.

Key takeaways: 

  • Customer service is the support you provide to your customers before, during and after they buy and use your products or services. 

  • Excellent customer service should be proactive, personalized, convenient and competent.

  • Add relevant customer service skills to your resume by scanning keywords in job listings and weaving them into the skills and job experience sections of your resume.

What is customer service?

Customer service is both a type of job and a set of job skills. As a job, customer service professionals are responsible for addressing customer needs and ensuring they have a good experience. As a skill set, customer service entails several qualities like active listening, empathy, problem-solving and communication. Customer service is used in many jobs at every level.

While traditionally you might think of customer care as a service from a business to a consumer, it is also applicable within a business. For example, you may be in a role that provides services to other internal teams. In this case, you would want to ensure that you understood and were able to meet their needs.

Tip: Any time an employee engages a customer, they are representing the organization and exercising customer service skills.

Related: 15 Customer Service Jobs That Pay Well

4 key aspects of customer service

Good customer service is the quality and timely assistance provided by a business and its employees to the people who use or buy its products and services. If your job requires you to provide excellent customer service, it’s important to know four key aspects of good customer service. Effective and efficient service is often:

  • Proactive: Instead of waiting for customers to reach out to you, it can be helpful to offer help or recommendations before they ask or contact them first if you’re aware of an issue.

  • Personalized: Providing great customer service means knowing who your customers are and what they want. In order to find out what your customers needs, you can ask questions, use social media and conduct surveys to gather valuable insight.

  • Convenient: Give your customers several options for getting the service they need so they can reach out in their preferred channel of communication. You can work with customers in person, over the phone or online through email, chat or social media direct messages.

  • Competent: It’s important for you to be very knowledgeable about your company and the products and services it provides so you can appropriately help your customers as issues arise.

Tip: Types of customer service that companies can offer include live chat, email support, self-service like FAQs, interactive voice systems, classic phone support, social media support, web commerce support and on-site support.

Related: 9 Tips for Improving Your Customer Service Skills

Why is customer service important?

For many businesses, people working in customer service roles or using customer service skills are the human face of the company. These businesses rely on employees who can create a positive dialogue with customers, helping to foster loyalty and a good reputation.

If you are in a customer service role, common in industries like food and beverage or retail, a large part of your success might be attributed to your ability to provide positive experiences to customers. Learning and developing traits that make a strong customer service worker paired with on-the-job experience can help you advance in your role.

Related: 8 Reasons Why Customer Service Is Important and a Priority

21 important customer service skills

Although customer service is often seen as a skill in and of itself, there are many associated skills that support strong customer service abilities. Important customer service skills include:

  1. Active listening

  2. Adaptability

  3. Attention to detail

  4. Collaboration

  5. Conflict resolution

  6. Creativity

  7. Critical thinking

  8. Decision-making

  9. Effective communication

  10. Emotional intelligence

  11. Empathy

  12. Friendliness

  13. Negotiation skills

  14. Open-mindedness

  15. Patience

  16. Persuasion

  17. Problem-solving

  18. Product knowledge

  19. Time management

  20. Understanding body language

  21. Writing skills

Many customer service skills are soft skills. As you help learn how to more effectively communicate, make decisions, think independently, and expand your understanding of empathy, you’ll find you can more easily relate to and assist others. Employers value people with strong soft skills because of how well they can interact with both customers and colleagues.

Tip: The five dimensions of service quality are reliability, tangibility, empathy, responsiveness and assurance. 

Related: How To Answer “What Is Customer Service?” in an Interview

How to improve your customer service skills

Anyone can benefit from improving their customer service skills. Being a good communicator, having empathy and actively listening, for example, will help you be a better employee and colleague overall. Additionally, expanding your technical knowledge and skills will make it easier to provide service to others.

Here are several ways you can improve your customer service skills:

  • Ask for direct feedback from customers: If allowed by your employer, ask customers to provide feedback on the service at regular intervals, such as quarterly or annually. Keep track of your feedback, and reflect on it with each new round to get an idea of your improvement.

  • Ask a manager for feedback: If most of your customer interactions happen over email or other digital means, it might be helpful to forward or print out your communications for your manager to highlight your strengths and areas for improvement.

  • Read customer feedback reports: If your employer provides customers with service feedback forms, take the opportunity to review them if available to you. Reviewing customer feedback may give you a different sense of your current customer service abilities than what you’ll get internally from management or colleagues.

  • Practice new skills: You can practice skills like friendliness and patience with everyone on and off the job, including colleagues and customers. You may also find that improving your knowledge of the service or product your employer offers improves your ability to resolve issues with customers.

Related: Learn About Being a Customer Service Representative

Example of customer service skills in a resume

You likely already possess many of the customer skills employers need. You can highlight those skills on your resume, cover letter, during interviews and on the job.

If you’re applying for jobs that require customer service as a primary job duty, provide a few examples of your customer service skills in the “skills” section of your resume. Include both the soft skills you possess, such as responsiveness and problem-solving, as well as hard skills and product knowledge required to provide effective service. For example, your “Skills” section might look like this:

Customer service skills: Proficiency in Zoho | Efficient problem-solver | Patient | Consistent

Here’s an example of a resume that focuses on customer service:

Cody Fredrickson
Austin, TX | (123) 456-7891 | cfredrickson@email.com
Energetic Customer Service Representative with 3+ years of experience resolving complex customer inquiries. Passionate about building strong customer relationships, driving brand loyalty, and increasing customer engagement.
Aug '10-May '14
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
TRADELOT, Customer Service Representative
Jul '19 - Current
  • Resolve 300+ weekly customer inquiries via phone and email, consistently exceeding targets
  • Pioneered development of improved system for following up with unsatisfied customers, reducing customer churn by 6%
  • Trained and mentored 4 new employees on conflict resolution, JIRA, and Zendesk CRM
  • Proposed more efficient call script to reduce average customer handling time, which was well-received and implemented by management
  • Achieved 97% average customer satisfaction rating to date, surpassing team goal by 12%
CLOUD CLEARWATER, Customer Service Representative
Aug '15 - Jul '19
  • Received #3 Customer Service Representative in the Western Region award (out of 500+ reps)
  • Made 30+ outbound calls per day to follow up with customers who were overdue in their payments
  • Spearheaded customer referral program, increasing customer base by 15% in less than 6 months
  • Helped develop new customer service rep training program that cut training time in half from 1 month to 2 weeks
  • Consistently exceeded weekly credit card application targets by 10%+ with innovative upselling techniques
  • Fluent in Spanish
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office
  • Outbound/inbound calling

For inspiration when crafting your customer service resume, visit customer service resume samples for free examples of resumes in your industry.

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