Soft skills are those talents and abilities that make someone not just good at their job, but amazing. They are the embodieed by the person who loves what they do, who goes the extra mile for that customer and gets a buzz from doing it.
Putting that into something we can all grasp, soft skills are what help us to not just talk to our customers, but connect on a human to human level. They help us to not just acknowledge, but also to really get under the skin of the problem. This means we’re able to connect with our customer, but also gain an appreciation of the impact of what’s happened and how that’s left our customer feeling.
Well, listening and showing empathy are two key soft skills, but there’s a whole lot more to soft skills than that. I mean, if you think about what you do on a day-to-day basis, it’s so much more than that.
Think about your ability to influence, to describe, to sell an idea or concept, to negotiate, to be caring, to be firm, to be honest, to be vulnerable, to be natural, to be credible, to read between the lines and the great unsaid. To ask the questions others wouldn’t ask. To be brave, to be flexible, to rub along well with others, to understand others’ points of view.
Whew! It’s a lot and you’re doing all on a daily basis without really thinking about it aren’t you! And that’s the difference, because soft skills aren’t just something we pull out and use just for our customers. They can help us in our relationships with our colleagues too.
Well, actually no. You’ll be amazed how many people struggle with these skills, because it’s not something that comes naturally.
Why is that? Putting it bluntly, it helps if you like people for a start. Some people don’t and that’s absolutely fine, but if you’re going to work in complaints handling, you need to like people. There we’ve said it.
That’s not all, we’re all individuals and some of us are born blessed with natural soft skills and some of us have to make a conscious effort to learn what they are and how to use them well. But it can be done, and you can still succeed, because like most things in life, it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
Absolutely! When things go wrong, the number one thing customers want is to know is that they’ve been heard and understood. But gone are the days when ‘active listening’ and ‘verbal nods’ would have been enough to satisfy a disgruntled customer. Things have moved on.
In today’s complaint handling world, customers need to know they are speaking to someone who actually gives a toss about what’s happened and wants to put it right. Authenticity and personality are right up there as key attributes for a successful complaints handler, along with all the negotiating and positioning skills of a UN Peacekeeper.
Using soft skill techniques well can help to give customers the reassurance they are after, so that they feel heard and understood. It can also help them to stay engaged, through what can be a long, drawn-out process, meaning they continue to trust us and the outcome of our investigations.
In our workshop we cover the key soft skills to help you in your complaint handling role, and what that looks and feels like, for you and your customers.