If there’s one type of job everyone should do at least once in their life, it’s a customer service job. There are loads of skill-building opportunities, which is why so many people work in retail, sales, hospitality, or support at some point in their career. No matter what job you go into next it’s pretty much guaranteed there will be customer services skills you’ll be able to apply to your next position
Transferable skills are that special sauce that tastes good on everything. Starting your professional career? Changing industries? Looking for a promotion? Highlight your transferable skills to make your resume shine.
Today we’re talking about 5 transferable skills that will make you more hirable, all of which you can develop in a customer service job.
1 – Problem-Solving
Working with customers can come with its challenges: customers who woke up on the wrong side of the bed and come off a little rude, people who yell at frontline staff about rules that they don’t make, people who can’t make decisions about what they’d like to purchase—the list goes on! This might not sound like a great sales pitch, but even the best jobs come with their difficulties. It’s working through these challenges that will make you a better employee. As the saying goes, “every flower must grow through dirt.”
It’s likely at some point in your career, you’ll be in an interview and they’ll ask you to tell them about a time when things didn’t go well and what you did to make the situation better. It’s a question dedicated to finding out about your problem-solving skills! Your ability to stay calm, cool, and collected while thinking on your feet to meet the expectations of your customer and the company you work for is an admirable skill that any employer is interested in.
2 – Software and Systems
In 2021 and beyond, chances are you’ll spend time on a computer in your customer service gig. While processing orders you’ll use point of sale software. While submitting requests and updating accounts you might use a customer relationship management (CRM) system. It could even be as simple as updating inventory spreadsheets at the end of your shift. Whatever you find yourself using can be highlighted on your resume (if applicable) for future applications. Technology skills, like being able to handle and process money in secure ways or dealing with sensitive information, all while communicating with customers are a great demonstration of exceptional service and an ability to multitask while being proficient in the latest tech in your industry.
3 – Professional Communication
The main purpose of customer service employees is to assist those who need it, and communicating with total strangers comes with the territory. That might not come naturally to everyone, but it’s a skill you can definitely develop.
That’s not to say that you need to become the most outgoing person, you don’t need to change who you are to be a great communicator. When it comes down to it, it’s all about respect and kindness. Take the time to listen to customer concerns, craft thoughtful and kind responses, and help them as best you can.
Even if you don’t stay in a customer-facing job for your whole career, you’ll need to communicate with other people whether they’re external clients, partners, or your colleagues. That brings us to our next skill.
4 – Teamwork and Leadership
It doesn’t matter if you’re working at a company with thousands of employees or for a small business led by one person, being able to work efficiently and cordially on a team is an asset to any business. In your customer service job, you’ll learn how to work towards shared goals with your colleagues whether those are sales-based, like reaching a certain revenue target in one day, or task-based, like supporting a certain number of customers in one day.
Wherever you go next, you’ll work on a team at some point. Your future employer wants to know that you’ll be able to handle the complexities of working with others—potentially even leading and managing them—and with your experience in customer service, you’ll know you have it in the bag.
5 – Reliability
When working with customers, you have to be ready for everything. People are going to come to you with questions and requests, and it’s your job to make it all happen smoothly. It may sound simple, but being able to think on your feet and deliver the right response is a skill!
Let’s say you’re working in a retail store. Can your boss rely on you to help out where necessary if they leave you alone in the store? Will you be able to keep up with competing priorities—the phone is ringing, but there’s a huge line waiting to check out! Will your team be able to count on you to provide exceptional service?
This is all about being a reliable and trustworthy worker. Working with customers is the perfect test because you can’t control what they do or say or how they say it. You never know what you’re going to get. How you respond is what makes you a strong candidate to potential employers. If you have a good track record, you’ll be able to apply this skill in any job.
Don’t underestimate your customer service job—it can be a great place to develop skills that are applicable to many other careers. It can definitely come with its challenges but can also be an incredibly rewarding place to work. So get out there and start adding these five skills to your toolkit! Plus, if you leave your customer service job on a high note, you’ll be able to use your colleagues as references who can speak to all these skills to any future employers.
Make sure your customer service skills shine on your resume with a Resume Refresh! Style Nine to Five’s Founder, Christie Lohr, will work with you to make sure your resume stands out from the crowd.
By: Catherine Gautreau – Catherine is a communications and fundraising professional in Vancouver, BC with a passion for storytelling, the arts, and giving back to the community.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock