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Mastering Customer Success: The Top 7 Soft Skills to Get Ahead
As Customer Success professionals, we all know the importance of developing soft skills that will help us set ourselves apart. However, these are also the hardest to develop.
While your experience or technical knowledge can position you ahead of your peers, it’s your attitude in every single interaction with others that will help you rise and shine in the long run!
This is why it’s critical to develop a few fundamental soft skills and make them a habit so they become a natural part of your own success!
So, here are the 7 soft skills I believe any great Customer Success Professional should focus on:
• Take responsibility for your actions and your work.
• Do what you say, deliver as expected.
• You’re in the driver’s seat. Don’t blame others if something goes wrong.
• Listen actively, not to reply but to understand, deeply.
• Be clear, precise, on point, short and sharp in all your interactions: emails, phone, meetings, 1:1, …
3) Relationship building
• give, help without counting.
• identify common points of interest you can leverage.
• Bring in value first, then ask. Not the way around.
One of my top references for these critical skills is the book by Chris Voss: Never Split The Difference. As a former FBI negotiator involved in 150+ international hostage cases, he’s been pioneering many proven techniques to help get out of any critical and complex situations in human interactions.
Some people have these empathy skills naturally. But the good news: it can also be learned!
And here are my 4 key recommendations based on this amazing book I can’t recommend enough for you to read, multiple times:
• Focus on your counterpart’s interests
Get to know their likes and dislikes. This will help you drive more personal conversations.
• Practice “mirroring”
The goal is to keep your counterpart talking.
Simply rephrase what they’ve just said to build trust and confidence. It will also give you the ability to disagree when needed, without being disagreeable.
• Ask “calibrated questions”
Have a few questions to reveal value to you and your counterpart.
Use “what” and “how” questions :
=> How can I help to make this better for us?
=> What are we trying to accomplish here?
• Follow-up with “labeling”
Important to translate emotions into tangible words.
=> It seems like you are worried that …
=> It seems like XYZ is important to you.
=> It seems like you are reluctant to …
• be genuinely interested in your customers’ business.
• put yourself in their shoes, and see how you would react if you were the customer.
• Don’t blame or judge. Provide constructive feedback instead.
And many other recommendations I’m discussing in detail in my book.
In summary, empathy is created through genuine human connections. And it just takes a few steps to practice and succeed.
As one of the greatest athletes of all time Michael Jordan once said:
“ Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
• Replace "I” with “We”.
• Give credit to other people’s work at any time.
• Praise and celebrate others publicly.
This will help you build trust and credibility while empowering all the people around you and positioning yourself as a leader!
6) Emotional Intelligence
• Step back and reflect. Don’t react impulsively.
Next time you want to send out this “angry” email, save it as a draft. Let it rest for a while and come back on it an hour later or even a day. Then see if you have the same thoughts as initially. Chances are you won’t feel the same way anymore.
Remember: we can’t control other people’s actions but we can control how we react to them.
• Everything you do has a consequence. It’s the principle of action and reaction. Think twice before saying anything you could later regret.
A great technique is asking yourself: would you sign off and defend what you want to do ten years from now? It’s usually a good indicator for yourself to seize the potential impact.
7) Time management
• Focus on your top priorities.
• Delegate whenever you can.
• Parkinson’s law: set aggressive deadlines to get the job done.
One of the most powerful principles that will change your life and the way you consider productivity, forever! Basically, it says that a task will swell in importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.
For example, if you gave it a week to complete, you’ll probably take your time and finish it in 7 days. But if you gave the same task with only 2 days to complete, you can be sure you’ll do whatever is needed to get it done by that time! And often, the end result will be of much more quality!
Another way to see it: you should shorten your work time to limit your tasks to the most important ones, first thing in the morning!
• No meeting if there is no agenda!
No one loves getting into meetings just for the sake of it unless you want to waste your time and resources.
Indeed. Your time is the most valuable asset. Therefore, you must make good and productive use of it.
Consequently, before entering a meeting, you should ensure it has a predefined agenda with clear goals and expectations defined.
In the end, you should leave the meeting with a plan, a set of defined action items with the owners of each action along with a timeline to complete.
Also, have you noticed that meetings are scheduled like TV Shows? 30, 45, 1h, etc.
If it only takes 7 mins for a meeting to conclude, why should it be scheduled for 30 mins?
What usually happens is people will then talk about anything and everything else outside of the main agenda just to fill in the void… A total waste of time, isn’t it? And we are back to the Parkinson’s law mentioned earlier…
• Therefore, always aim to be productive, not busy with things that have little or no impact.
Oohh… one last thing:
• Never complain.
• Never ever gossip!!
• Tell the good words of others at any time.
And … always bring in solutions, NOT problems!
So these were the top 7 soft skills you should focus on and which will help you get ahead in 2022 and beyond!
But there are more which I am discussing in detail with practical examples in my book. Check it out!
And that’s a wrap!
Enjoyed the read? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for your feedback.
I’ll speak to you again next Sunday.
Until then, have an awesome week ahead!