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4 Traits of Exceptional Customer Service Employees

Customer service is more than being polite and helpful; it’s about elevating the customer experience. While some individuals naturally excel in this area, others can cultivate these qualities with the right guidance and support. Here are four key traits to look for and nurture in your customer service team:


The Greeter:

A warm and welcoming vibe is essential for the role of the Greeter. This role needs to be adept at making others feel valued and comfortable. They’re the first point of contact, exuding positivity and setting the tone for a positive experience. Whether it’s in-person or over the phone, Greeters excel at building rapport and establishing trust from the outset.

“Consider this: who picks up the phone when a potential customer dials your organization’s number?” Ashley Winter, content marketing coordinator at CEL, shares a recent experience. “I was in need of an electrician,” she recalled. “The first number I called answered with a lackluster ‘Yeah?’ I wondered if I had dialed the right number at all. After reaching out to several companies for quotes, I ultimately decided to hire the team that provided the best phone experience. While all options likely had skilled electricians, I chose the company that warmly greeted me, patiently guided me through their process, and genuinely seemed happy.”

The Informer:

Detail-oriented and organized, the Informer takes pride in keeping your community well-informed. They believe in the importance of regular communication and strive to provide clarity and transparency at every touchpoint. From sharing product updates to addressing concerns, Informers ensure that clients feel engaged, supported, and empowered to make informed decisions.

“Are your Informers equipped with the essential skills for effective communication?” asks Andrew A. Hagen, integrated marketing coordinator at CEL. “Whether they’re tasked with updating your website, crafting newsletters, or writing insightful blogs, it’s crucial for your Informers to hone their communication abilities. They should understand the basic principles of writing for the web, accessibility, and SEO to best inform your community.”

“Oftentimes people are thrust into the role of informer,” says Ashley, “but they haven’t received any guidance in effective communication. This is an area where professional development is key. Whether it’s social media 101, writing for websites, or developing effective newsletters, a little training goes a long way.” 

The Problem Solver:

In the face of challenges, your Problem Solvers shine. Cool-headed and quick-thinking, they thrive under pressure and excel at finding creative solutions to complex issues. Whether it’s resolving technical glitches or addressing customer complaints, Problem Solvers approach each situation with resourcefulness and resilience. Their ability to adapt to changing circumstances makes them invaluable assets to your customer service team.

“Listening skills are crucial,” emphasizes Ashley. “Negative interactions are par for the course. Whether it’s dealing with nasty comments on social media, handling angry phone calls, or answering unhappy emails, every customer service team encounters these hurdles. Dealing with unhappy customers is a skill like any other—you can hone and improve your ability to turn a negative interaction into a better one.”

Ashley counsels that your team needs clear guidelines and support systems so they can reach out for assistance when necessary. “Sometimes it’s perfectly OK to end a conversation if it becomes hostile. There will be times when people in your organization need to hand over an angry customer to your best Problem Solver—someone with the power (and comfort) level to either solve a problem—or end the conversation altogether.


The Encourager:

Positivity is contagious, and the Encourager embodies this principle in their interactions with customers. They go above and beyond to foster a supportive and encouraging environment, celebrating clients’ successes and offering words of encouragement when needed. From remembering special occasions to expressing gratitude for their business, Encouragers ensure that every interaction leaves a lasting impression of professionalism and care.

“These are the people that truly remember you,” says Ashley. “My dentist asks about my family every time I go in because they’ve made an effort to learn about me. They remember my hobbies and other personal details. They check in with me after a dental cleaning to see if everything feels fine. It’s these personal touches that make me feel valued—and a loyal customer who constantly recommends their business to others”

What to Do When Your Customer Service Team Isn’t Cutting It

All customer service skills can be honed. Sometimes, the best training is already inside your organization—in team meetings, have your staff share their experiences and tips for customer service. Whether it’s a way to manage hostile interactions or a great cheat sheet of phone numbers, your team probably already has expertise they can share with one another.

But sometimes, the problem isn’t with the people—it’s a lack of empowerment organizationally. Let’s do an exercise. 

Picture this: A customer’s car breaks down, and they are furious—they’ve had it in the repair shop twice already. The customer calls the service center and is greeted by James, the Problem Solver.

James remains calm and composed despite the caller’s frustration, listening attentively to their concerns. He asks probing questions to understand the root cause of the issue and then works quickly to find a resolution. Whether it’s scheduling a service appointment, offering a refund for a prior appointment, or providing alternative transportation (or all 3!), James ensures that the customer leaves the conversation feeling heard, valued, and satisfied.


Think about the people inside your organization. Are they empowered to make decisions like James? Are they able to make decisions or find solutions? Here’s another way this situation might have gone. 

Picture this: A customer’s car breaks down, and they are furious—they’ve had it in the repair shop twice already. The customer calls the service center and is greeted by James.

James remains calm and composed despite the caller’s frustration, listening attentively to their concerns. He wants to help, but he needs approval from his manager to solve problems. He schedules a repair appointment for the customer—but the customer wants to know what to do right now with their car broken down on the side of the road. James put the customer on hold to find his manager.

After five minutes on hold, James is able to transfer the call. Now, the customer has to tell their story all over again to the manager. What would happen if the manager isn’t available or is busy?

The scenario above illustrates the critical importance of empowering frontline employees like James to make decisions and find solutions autonomously. When employees are equipped with the authority and resources to address customer concerns in real-time, they can provide prompt and effective assistance, enhancing the overall customer experience.

In contrast, situations where employees are required to seek approval from higher-ups can result in delays, frustration, and, ultimately, a dissatisfied customer. Organizations can streamline customer interactions, foster trust and loyalty, and ultimately drive business success by empowering employees to act decisively and independently within defined parameters.

So, take a moment to evaluate your organization’s approach to decision-making and empowerment—are your frontline employees empowered to be problem solvers like James? If not, consider how you can implement changes to better support and enable your team to deliver exceptional customer service at every touchpoint.


Published on: February 22, 2024