15 Key Customer Service Skills for 2024 • Toggl Hire
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15 Key Customer Service Skills for 2024

Post Author - Mile Živković Mile Živković Last Updated:

Did you know that for 52% of customers, poor customer service is the reason why they won’t make a repeat purchase with a brand? Also, 72% of customers want immediate customer service, and 71% want natural conversations with the customer service department.

In the age of AI, great customer service is increasingly important. While artificial intelligence can automate some aspects of this work, good customer service is all about being human. This means providing seamless interactions on customers’ preferred channels.

But how do you find these amazing customer service reps in 2024? It’s simple — we’ll show you the top customer service skills someone needs to thrive in this role (and teach you how to use skills-based hiring and other tools to easily asses candidates for those skills!).

Customer service skills testing

TL;DR — Key Takeaways

  • Customer service is the act of providing support and assistance to customers before, during, and after the purchase of a product or service.

  • There are four key attributes of customer service: a customer-centric approach, effective communication, quick problem-solving, and the ability to surpass customer expectations.

  • The key pillars of a great customer service professional include offering service that is personalized, competent, convenient, and proactive.

  • There are 15 important customer service skills any standout customer service representative should have, including empathy, communication skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and many others.

What is customer service?

Customer service is the assistance and support companies provide to their customers before, during, and after the purchase of goods or services. Good customer service includes a wide range of activities that ensure a high level of satisfaction through all customer interactions.

Some of the typical activities of a customer service team include resolving customer issues, responding to inquiries, handling returns and complaints, helping customers choose during the purchasing process, and more.

Common customer service roles include:

  • Customer service agent

  • Technical support specialist

  • Call center representative

  • Help desk support team member

  • Customer success manager

There are different types of in-demand skills based on the role you’re applying or hiring for, but here are four main components of great customer service that lead to a stellar customer experience (CX — which is a slightly different term, albeit equally important):

Customer-centric approach

The core idea behind a customer-centric approach is building products and services that meet the customer’s needs while anticipating their wants and training the customer service team to actively listen to what customers have to say.

If your business is only focused on keeping shareholders happy and ignores the customer support team, it is destined to fail. The happier customers are, the more they will advocate for your brand.

Communicate effectively

Everybody wants to be heard and understood. To feel like the person they’re talking to truly understands what they are saying. And being able to listen to customers can help achieve this basic human need.

Active listening and clarity when speaking are components of being an effective communicator. Most high-quality customer service professionals are also able to clearly explain complex concepts in simple language.

After all, customers should be able to understand what your company and support team are saying to them. The last thing you want is customer service reps who lose their focus easily, mumble, or communicate in a way that is too complex for your customers to understand.

Customer service soft skills

Quick problem-solving

The sooner you can fix a customer’s problem, the sooner they can get back to their lives. Effective customer service strategies and agents understand the importance of creating a seamless problem-solving experience.

Does the customer need to return a laptop that is vital to their daily work? They won’t be able to wait through a 14-day period when the item is booked in for an assessment. Sending out an immediate replacement while your technician isn’t rushed to find the root of the problem creates a positive customer experience, bringing them back to your business time and time again.

Surpassing expectations

Simply satisfying customer requests isn’t usually enough these days — you need to surpass their expectations and surprise them with the dedication of your customer service team.

When customers are consistently surprised and delighted by their experiences, they are more likely to become loyal advocates for the brand.

Just look at American Eagle Outfitters, a brand that accepts returns without the customer needing an invoice, removing the hassle from the customer journey and placing trust in customers not to abuse the scheme. And for good reason. Businesses with superior customer experience are reported to bring in 5.7x more revenue.

What are the four pillars of good customer service?

The components mentioned above are all factors that lead to a great customer experience. However, when hiring a customer service employee, you need to consider the four pillars of great customer service, as they’re more directly related to the skills you’re hiring for.


Your customer service reps should be familiar with the specific problems of each customer they speak with. The solution they’re offering should cater to the individual needs of that customer so they can solve the problem more quickly and efficiently (and so they feel like they’re being listened to and spoken to directly — not that they’re just receiving boilerplate responses about company policies).


If you’re selling a highly technical product, the customer service representative needs to know the ins and outs of that product to provide the best support. In other words, just having the right soft skills and customer service foundations isn’t enough. The agent needs to have in-depth expertise in your product or service to provide excellent customer service.


Providing excellent customer service is all about being where the customer requires you to be. 60% of customers today expect businesses to react instantly with the most recent information when getting transferred to a different department. In 2024, this means having an omnichannel approach across different platforms and devices and ensuring your internal support processes are efficient.


A good customer service professional should anticipate a problem before it happens. For example, let’s say someone is new to using your accounting software and has some onboarding questions. A great customer support employee should be able to help while also anticipating that they’ll likely have trouble migrating data from their old app during the next step, too. This can lead to higher customer loyalty and increased customer satisfaction scores.

Pillars of Customer Service

15 good customer service skills for success

The four pillars mentioned above are the foundation for all customer service skills that your ideal team member needs to have. When hiring customer service professionals, testing for these skills ensures that you have the right fit in terms of both hard and soft skills.

Bear in mind, though, that while these are all good customer service skills, you don’t need to test for all of them — just the ones relevant to the specific role and industry you’re in.

1. Active listening

Being an active listener means being able to fully concentrate on and understand a customer’s problem before attempting to solve it. As opposed to regular listening, it means listening with the intent to understand rather than spew out an automated response to a problem.

For a customer service representative, for example, strong active listening skills would mean they have the ability to listen to a full account of someone’s issue and receive customer questions before suggesting one or several solutions from your available arsenal.

2. Communication

This is one of the most important customer service skills because, without it, the agent is pretty helpless. It entails communicating clearly, succinctly, in a professional manner, across different channels, and within a reasonable time frame.

In most cases, it also includes using positive language that is solution-focused and not aggressive or argumentative.

For example, if someone reaches out via live chat, you want to reply in quick, easy-to-understand messages instead of writing essays and forcing the customer to wait. If there is more information to be conveyed, you can transfer them to another agent or call them to explain the situation or solution more in-depth.

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While relevant in the customer service and support space, communication is one of those power skills that is handy in just about any role.

3. Empathy

In a customer service representative, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and perspectives of a customer when they reach out for help.

This important customer service skill means acknowledging how the customer feels and reacting accordingly throughout different customer touchpoints. It’s a strong customer service skill to have, particularly when dealing with unhappy customers.

For example, a customer may reach out yelling and asking for their account to be suspended because they lost important personal information. The rep should empathize and understand that the core of the problem isn’t in the product they’re representing, but it’s actually something entirely different (the loss of their personal information, which could have included sentimental photos or messages).

4. Problem-solving

A customer service professional with strong problem-solving skills can accurately identify the true cause of the customer’s problem and offer a relevant solution. Most people with strong solutions-focused skills are able to analyze a situation to identify where the problem is coming from.

For example, you sell email marketing software, and a customer contacts support saying that they can’t send out their first campaign. Customer service agents should be trained to look for the root of the problem to, let’s say, recognize that the server isn’t set up properly.

Most in demand skills of 2024

5. Patience

This is one of the most important customer service skills when dealing with difficult customers or those with complex issues. Fixing a problem in situations where the person on the other end is angry or upset can push agents’ patience to the limit. However, it’s important that they retain composure, show empathy, and remain professional at all times.

For example, a customer may be struggling to use an app on their phone. Perhaps they’re not very tech-savvy and don’t know much about phones or the internet. Resolving this customer’s problem can take considerably more time compared to a standard support case, requiring them to use positive language, and clear instructions while remaining calm and respectful.

6. Adaptability

Strong customer service skills also mean being adaptable to any situation that arises. After all, providing great customer service can mean something entirely different for two different customers — you can’t rely on support agents who use standard “copy and paste” replies for every situation.

For example, if a customer is calling and the agent notices that they mistakenly selected English instead of Spanish in the first menu, they should know immediately that they need to transfer the customer to a different agent.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

The right customer service software can help with issues like this. However, training your customer service employees to be quick on their feet and adapt to any issues that arise can make all the difference (software won’t solve every issue!).

7. Resourcefulness

Meeting customer expectations means being resourceful and using the tools you have to get the job done no matter what.

For example, when an irate customer states that they’re having the same problem as they did a few months ago, the agent has to be resourceful to solve the customer’s issue. They can look into the CRM to pull up customer information and details about the previous interaction to see how and when it was resolved and repeat the same process.

This can help build customer loyalty and provide you with a competitive advantage — provided that you hire people with excellent customer service skills in the first place (yes, we’re looking at you, hiring managers).

8. Positive attitude

A positive attitude is one of the key customer service skills you really can’t overlook as a hiring manager. The customer needs to see that the problem they’re facing is not, in fact, a problem, and the agent is convinced that it can be resolved.

For example, let’s say a customer lost all the data they had previously stored on the cloud, and they’re freaking out because it contained important family photos alongside critical business information they need for a presentation tomorrow.

If a customer service agent responds frantically or with a simple, “Oh no…that’s bad,” then the customer’s going to immediately feel worse (and rightfully so…). Instead, they should use positive language to reassure them that they’ll work on an immediate solution for them.

9. Teamwork

Keeping customers happy is a matter of collaboration, and great agents rarely work on their own. Being able to collaborate within a team is an extension of strong communication skills and demonstrates a willingness to solve complex problems at any cost.

For example, if an agent is dealing with an angry customer, they can go into the CRM and find out which agent talked to them earlier and ask them for advice regarding a solution or even how they successfully spoke to them before, ultimately leading to improved customer experience.

10. Conflict resolution

Speaking of angry customers, they will happen, and when they do, even in-depth product knowledge or the strongest technical skills won’t help much. Instead, conflict resolution is one of those interpersonal skills that come in extremely handy on the front lines.

When a person’s emotions get out of hand, and the situation starts to escalate, the agent should be able to use their own conflict resolution skills to calm them down, explain the problem at hand, and show them that they are in the process of resolving it quickly and effortlessly.

11. Critical thinking

Customer service agents are often required to provide service and answers by the book, but at the same time, they should know when to act on their own and make critical decisions. Out of all the available tools and solutions they can offer and help the customer implement, they should be able to immediately pick the one that best suits the type of problem and customer at hand.

For example, if an older, non-technical person is calling, customer service agents should use their active listening skills to understand the problem at hand. They should be able to know that the best course of action is to remain patient and to suggest a solution that is easier to implement than one they might offer to a customer who is a tech-savvy IT manager aged 25.

in-demand soft skills in 2024

12. Product knowledge

Which is more important, customer service soft skills or product knowledge? Both! They go hand in hand. Having excellent problem-solving skills and being able to listen actively is important, but it’s useless if the agent doesn’t know what they’re selling or helping with.

For example, you could hire a top customer service agent from Microsoft to work in a shoe store call center. They might be an amazing professional who excels at their job, but without product knowledge, the customer experience they provide won’t be so great.

13. Persuasive speaking skills

Being persuasive isn’t just about convincing someone to see things your way — it’s about fostering understanding, building trust, and guiding customers toward mutually beneficial outcomes.

Persuasive speaking combines clarity, empathy, and strategic argumentation to navigate customer objections and transform challenges into solutions. By mastering this skill, customer service representatives can significantly enhance their interactions, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

As an added benefit, persuasive communication can streamline problem-solving processes, ultimately contributing to a more efficient and positive customer experience.

14. Goal-oriented

Candidates with goal-oriented mindsets are individuals who approach customer interactions with clear objectives, aiming to improve response times or elevate customer satisfaction levels.

Their ability to set and relentlessly pursue these targets not only ensures a high-quality customer experience but also motivates the team by achieving tangible outcomes. But it’s not just about setting any old goals. We’re talking smart, achievable ones that push the envelope but don’t tear it.

For instance, reducing response times, boosting customer satisfaction scores, or increasing resolution rates on the first contact.

15. Time management

Finally, like any other employee on your team, a great customer service professional should be able to manage their time effectively.

Time management is more than just clock-watching, though — it’s about prioritizing tasks, setting realistic deadlines, and delegating when necessary. This skill ensures that the employee is handling customer inquiries promptly and effectively.

For example, let’s say you own an online retail company and are experiencing a holiday rush. You want skilled customer service agents who can prioritize customer inquiries by urgency. They should be able to know which issues require immediate attention (shipment delays or dissatisfied customers) and which can wait a minute or two (customers with questions about whether you have a toy in blue).

How to assess customer service skills

Ready to create an amazing customer service strategy? Great, all you need to know now is how to identify and test for many of these customer service skills. If you’re not sure how to get started, here are some great pointers.

  • Skills tests: Tools such as Toggl Hire allow you to test for a variety of customer service skills — both hard and soft.

  • Certificates and courses: Qualified customer service candidates will have relevant certificates for their industry and role that demonstrate they’re up to date on industry trends.

  • Paid job assignments: Give candidates a test task that they can complete in their own time so you can assess their skills in a specific situation.

  • Role play scenarios and job simulations: In interviews, you can ask candidates how they would behave in certain situations, e.g., when dealing with customer complaints or speaking to a customer about an issue that goes beyond their product knowledge.

  • Psychometric tests: These can provide you with an accurate representation of relevant soft skills necessary to provide a smooth customer service experience.

  • Reference checks: Get in touch with previous employers to learn if the agent has the right problem-solving skills, clear communication skills, time management skills, and others necessary for the role.

Customer support skills test

Test customer service skills with Toggl Hire

As you can see, there are several important customer service skills that a great customer service employee should have in 2024. From empathy and strong communication skills to problem-solving, patience, and many others — the ideal candidate possesses a complex mix of hard and soft skills.

If you’re someone looking for your next role in customer service, explore our Candidate Portal. There, you can find various skills tests related to customer service skills so you can see if you have what it takes to thrive in your next role (and use your skills certificates to make your application stand out!).

If you’re an employer, create a free account with Toggl Hire and start vetting your job applicants to learn if they’re the right fit for your team. We have several customer service-specific skills tests ready-made that we’ve built using questions from our industry experts.

Customer service skills testing
Mile Živković

Mile is a B2B content marketer specializing in HR, martech and data analytics. Ask him about thoughts on reducing hiring bias, the role of AI in modern recruitment, or how to immediately spot red flags in a job ad.

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