The success of your business depends on having great customer service skills. As Access Development reports, according to the 2016 [24]7 Customer Engagement Index, 47 percent of consumers say they'd move over to a competitor within a day of having a negative customer service experience. Meanwhile, research from Walker Information indicates that 86 percent of customers will pay more if it means they'll have a better customer experience, and by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Now, perhaps more than ever, customer service is king.

Summer school - customer service

To provide top-notch service, it helps to develop soft skills that improve the customer experience. Here are three customer service skills to put on your training list for summer — and some out-of-the-box methods for developing them.

1. Problem-Solving

Customers usually make a purchase for one of two reasons: to solve a problem or improve their lives. In order to provide great service, you need to help them connect the dots about why your company has the best solution for both. Boost your problem-solving skills by learning to pay attention to the details. If something is unclear, ask for questions or search for answers. By getting to the heart of the customer's motivation, you can help solve their problems (and hopefully make the sale).

Sharpen your problem-solving customer service skills by taking your team to an escape room: a game where you escape a locked room by solving a series of puzzles. You'll have to look for clues and connections and expand your awareness.

2. Public Speaking

Great public speakers connect with their audiences, and when you're providing customer service, the customer is your audience. By honing public speaking skills, you can present information in a way that's interesting and fun. Once you know your product or service inside and out, practice entertaining or anecdotal stories. While it helps to rehearse, be sincere while delivering value. Listen for clues from your customer that can help you tailor information to their needs.

Work on your public speaking skills by volunteering to be a guide at a local museum or historical center. You'll get a chance to deliver information to visitors and you might consider going off script to add your own personality. You can also take an improv class to learn how to react and respond in the moment.

3. Mindfulness

Customer service conversations should always be about the customer's experience, and that means you need to stop speaking. Listen to your customers and determine what they need by focusing and staying in the moment. A study from the University of Quebec (reported on by Mindfulness journal) found that when call center employees participated in a brief mindfulness program before work and after lunch, their client satisfaction increased. Meditation is as simple as sitting and breathing. The practice helps you strengthen and increase your focus.

Make mindfulness fun by launching a group meditation program at work. Plan to meet every day before work or at lunch and sit for five to 10 minutes in silence. Meditating with others not only helps provide a sense of community; it can also lend some accountability to your practice.

While you're brushing up on these vital soft skills, think of ways you can share the wealth and turn these into team-building activities to make your company culture even more dynamic.

Did you know that how you set up your workspace can impact your productivity? Be sure to check back in next Wednesday and read our next Summer School post to learn how feng shui can help set your business up for success. See you then!

Tags: Business Strategy Summer School Customer Relationships