Miscommunication and misfires during customer interactions can threaten a company’s reputation as well as an individual’s career. Whether or not one is in a primarily customer-facing role, the expectation is to deal with all clients in a competent manner.

Part of that competence comprises of tapping into the relevant human skills such as critical thinking, negotiation and emotional intelligence that can resolve even the most tense situations.

A pre-programmed chatbot may be able to make a simple travel booking, but add in a few complex requests or a crisis situation and the customer will immediately want to talk to a real person. Empathy, for instance, is a non-tradable human skill that no robot, till date, can replicate.

It is not enough to do our job well, especially in a time when we are becoming increasingly dependent on technology and automated systems. We need to rise above the very mechanical aspects of a role and strive to bring a ‘human’ element to all of our customer dealings.

Here are five unparalleled human skills that all of us need to sharpen to remain competitive in the near-future:

1)    Critical Thinking

Critical thinking was once assumed to automatically be a part of every adult’s toolbox. We now know that is simply not true. Critical thinking must be cultivated. There are a number of everyday situations where an employee is required to make spontaneous decisions. How effectively an employee can resolve a challenging situation with their critical thinking skills indicates a company’s customer service excellence. Let’s suppose a distressed customer reaches out to carpool service’s customer support helpline for assistance with an unprecedented request, like whether their dog can ride in the car. The agent is expected to take charge, utilize their critical thinking skills and present a solution – instead of waiting on directions from their supervisor.

2)    Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence and stellar customer service go hand-in-hand. There is often a gap between what is being said in a conversation, how the customer actually feels and what is being understood by the representative. A company’s entire customer experience can boil down to each employee’s ability to accurately gauge customer satisfaction during an interaction. Emotionally intelligent customer service representatives are known for being able to better understand the customer’s wants and needs. A truly customer-centric organization will facilitate productive interactions and relationships with clients. Why not train everyone in the skill of doing just that?

3)    Cognitive Flexibility

While the popular mantra is to avoid multitasking in the workplace, there are times when it becomes impossible for a professional not to! That is when one desperately needs cognitive flexibility, especially when trying to accomplish tasks with competing deadlines. Ideal customer service representatives go an extra mile to cater to their customers, which can include dealing with various requests that help resolve their concerns. Cognitive flexibility is a valuable trait that helps one:

  • develop professionally
  • adapt to situations effectively
  • learn more quickly
  • solve problems creatively

Think of cognitive skills as a muscle- the more flexible it is, the better it performs.

4)    Negotiation

Like critical thinking and emotional intelligence, negotiation skills were once thought to be a trait one was born with. It is now widely understood that people can be taught how to effectively bargain with others in professional setting, especially when they play a key role in a company’s overall customer experience. If you think about it, customer relations are strengthened when negotiations end with wins for both parties.

5)    Collaboration

Even your best employees will require help from other team members from time-to-time.  Willingness to collaborate, be it in-person or in a digital environment, will help your employees efficiently find solutions for the customer. The ability to collaborate enables people to come up with better ideas and overcome challenging situations.

No matter whatever role one occupies, maintaining congenial customer relations is a must for all professionals. Having the necessary human skills can help achieve this. Customer Service Training Programs are particularly useful in harnessing these essential workplace skills.