soft skills

Why Soft Skills Are an Important Part of Employee Training

You’ve heard the phrases active listening, non-verbal communication, and empathy. They are just a few soft skills employees should possess in a modern, customer-focused organization. While employees should possess them, you may wonder what place these softer skills have in your employee training program or how they could possibly help your bottom line. To quote Jim Rohn, author, and motivational speaker:  

“If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.” 

In other words, knowing the art of communication entails mastering soft skills and having a level of emotional intelligence that enables us to enter each customer interaction with a higher level of mental presence, creativity, and care.

When interviewing someone for any role, it is important to observe the level of soft skills a candidate already has. You can see a lot by noticing their facial expression, body language, and way of speaking. A candidate with soft skills will go far – whether they work in customer service, support, or sales. They will also be open to further honing and developing these skills in order to provide the best customer experience possible.

Soft Skills to Encompass in Employee Training

Since customer service is paramount, some of the soft skills you should consider including in your employee training program include:

  • Active listening –  As its name suggests, active listening means actively listening and fully paying attention to what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ what is being said. It not only creates a connection and improves mutual understanding, but it is also an important first step in defusing a problematic situation and finding solutions.
  • Clear communication – People shouldn’t have to “read between the lines” and make assumptions on their own to understand what a representative is saying. To be clear, employees should try to minimize the number of ideas in each sentence, making sure that it’s easy for a customer to understand their meaning.
  • Positive language –  Positive communication elicits a positive response from a customer. Whether talking to a coworker, customer, or employee, a kind word can truly make a person’s day! By focusing on positive words, actions and solutions we have the power to go from a negative situation to a positive outcome.
  • Empathy – This may be one of the most important soft skills. People with empathy are good at recognizing feelings, even when those feelings may not be obvious to others. They have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and are usually excellent at managing relationships, listening, and relating to others.
  • Body language – Body language is very important since it can help us engage with people and project confidence – this is true whether we are communicating in person OR over the phone. This includes posture, facial expressions, and the use of our hands. In the words of business executive, entrepreneur, and author Peter Guber: “Language is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy will come through before you even start speaking.”
  • Having a Heart – One of our favorite customer service methods is based on the acronym  “H.E.A.R.T.”. In this context, heart stands for Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Respond, Thank. The terms are self-explanatory and should ideally be at the heart of any internal or external customer interaction.

Helping your teams develop soft skills will contribute to an enhanced customer experience and heightened employee morale. Both are the foundation for positivity, growth, and a legacy of business success.

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Customer Service Institute of America