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Are ‘Soft Skills’ the new Customer Service?


Soft skills are increasingly becoming the hard skills of today's workforce. It is often an individual's soft skills - or 'interpersonal skills' - that are likely to be the deciding factor in opening new business opportunities and retaining the business you already have.

Soft skills include someone's ability to lead, negotiate, solve problems, communicate, empathise and work effectively with others in a team. Most soft skills can be developed and fine-tuned in the workplace. Naturally, L&D professionals have a key role to play here in ensuring the right training and support is provided to ensuring these skills are continually tapped into and developed. 

After your website, customer service is the first-line service of your business and some would argue the point where a customer can decide between your company and a competitor. Quality of customer service is key to customer retention in your business and instrumental in turning first-time buyers into valued stakeholders who recommend your services to other individuals.

Customer Service doesn’t and shouldn’t begin and end at the first point of contact - it’s a continual service given to the customer for the time that you offer your services. This can involve giving them a courtesy call just to see if they’re happy with your service, asking if any improvements could be made and lastly introducing the customer to your other services – just to show how valued they are to your business.

In a time of cutting costs and saving the pennies, Training & Development is often the department that faces the biggest cuts. In a challenging economic environment, training in soft skills can make all the difference to an organisation's success. How can businesses maintain a high level of customer service quality without the right training and development opportunities being made available to staff? It’s paramount that businesses support staff development either through customer service training or a customer service qualification.

Financially, the implications of having poor customer service are astronomical. Although it’s difficult to put a set fee on the loss of earnings, each customer enquiry has the potential to develop into financial reward. Customer Service has always been an integral part of a business. With more focus on developing an employee’s Soft Skills, introducing the relevant training and qualification opportunities to grow a business brand is key.

Nathan Pearson - Smith is the Apprenticeship/Learner Engagement Executive at Best Practice Training and Development.

Best Practice Training & Development is a leading provider of skills training vocational qualifications for customer service, contact centre, business support, leadership and management. 

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