Not even the world’s best training system can change someone’s personality. If they aren’t a people person, you won’t be able to make them one. The same is true for most other traits, which is why it’s important to look out for them during the hiring process. That said, you can teach skills – it’s just a matter of knowing what to focus on. 

Both aspects are key to building an effective customer service team. When the right skills and traits are present, you can have peace of mind knowing that a great experience is being delivered. The following are the eight qualities you should look for when hiring customer service professionals. 


Since it’s at the foundation of everything a customer service rep does, it should come as no surprise that communication is a must-have skill. More specifically, being able to communicate clearly. 

A customer needs to know what to do or how their problem will be solved. For example, if a service rep at an auto repair shop says that the tire change will be “included” in the final bill, the customer might think that means the tire change is free when it isn’t. 

Being concise and getting the point across efficiently is also important, especially when the message is written. Let’s not forget about the basics – grammar, spelling, and the like. Organizing a written test when hiring is a good idea. As for the spoken word, empathy and charisma are major factors. We’ll take a look at them in more detail below. 


While some people are more tolerant to delays, difficulties, and annoyances than others, patience is a skill that can be practiced. It’s especially important for service reps, as being able to listen to customers and handle them with a level head goes a long way in making it a pleasant experience for both parties. 

There will inevitably be times when customers test your patience, be it by letting out their frustration on you or simply talking beyond the point of productivity. In any case, there are three simple steps to keep in mind:

  • Acknowledge the presence of impatience.
  • Notice how it makes you feel.
  • Pay attention to the present moment and how you respond.


This trait is often touted as the number one factor for customer service success, and it’s easy to see why. Enthusiasm makes a happy person happier, and an unhappy person is reassured that their problem will be solved. A lack of enthusiasm is no less infectious. 

It’s seldom easy to incorporate more enthusiasm into a support team other than by hiring the right people. But it’s certainly worth noting that you can build on people’s enthusiasm by fostering a positive work environment that motivates employees instead of bringing them down. 


This trait can be described as the ability to see the world from the other person’s perspective. It’s why a sociopath is the last person you want to employ as a customer service rep. Granted, they tend to be charismatic – but more on that later. 

Empathy helps you understand how someone is feeling. And while it’s more of a trait than a skill, it can be learned. Being cold and straightforward is seldom the most suitable approach in a customer service environment. A bit of care and concern can make all the difference, especially when a customer is worried or frustrated. 


Being charismatic makes you a people magnet. You’re more likeable, and people are more susceptible to acting in accordance with your best interests. This is particularly valuable when a customer is contacting you because they’re interested in purchasing your product or service. 

While charisma is largely a trait, persuasion is a skill that can be improved to achieve the same effect. We can look at the former as three parts, the mastery of which can make anyone more charismatic. 


  • Presence: Being able to focus on the speaker and assure them that you’re listening. 
  • Power: Influencing people and resisting their influence.  
  • Warmth: Assuring people that you have the best intentions for them. 


Product Knowledge

It’s probably no good hiring someone who has worked in the food industry their whole life to become a service rep for your tech company. Everyone in your customer service department needs to have a deep knowledge of your product or service and the company selling it. After all, most customers call because you know something they don’t. 

The best customer service reps know how to answer the why and not just the what

For example, a customer might ask why the return period was shortened. The what response would be along the lines of saying that’s what management decided. But a why response is more compelling, such as saying that customers were abusing the policy and they couldn’t keep that period without raising prices. 

This kind of response justifies what might otherwise be considered wrongdoing from the customer’s perspective. It also brings about understanding and indicates that the customer and their matter are being taken seriously. 


No customer service rep can be blamed for feeling overwhelmed. It’s not uncommon to be handling several concurrent chats or browsing through a knowledge base in search of information while a customer is rambling on the phone. Being flexible and capable of working under pressure is key to ensuring these kinds of situations go smoothly. 

Don’t look for “multitasking” here – that doesn’t exist. Being able to efficiently switch between tasks is key, and it takes flexibility. Young people are at an advantage here, which is why they’re typically better candidates for support centers. 

Stress Management

Similarly, stress is commonplace in customer service, especially when a less savory character phones in. Yelling customers can trigger a stress response, which puts your mind in a less-than-ideal state. Training your customer service reps in stress management techniques can make a difference in helping them stay on top of tough situations. 

Training and looking for the above-listed qualities is imperative if you want to build a capable customer service team. Be sure to keep them on top of mind moving forward.