Soft Skills – The Hidden Gem of the Customer Experience

I recently received a personalized gift for being runner up in a trivia contest sponsored by a partner company. I opened the gift bag to find not only a gift for me, but something for my dog as well! It was completely unexpected and reflects the emotional connection this company creates with their customers. This experience reinforces my belief in the need for creating deeper relationships with customers. These relationships build trust for the products and company brand, which sustains and grows the overall business.

Before a customer trusts a company brand, they have to trust its’ employees. Across all industries, technology and processes are often the driver for designing the customer experience. In my opinion, the personal connection and use of soft skills is the hidden gem critical to creating, designing and delivering the ultimate customer experience.  Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with others.

A simple use of soft skills to meet customers where they are, is with a sense of SELF:

Be Sincere.

  • Customers are more responsive when you are authentic and sincere in all interactions.

Display Empathy.

  • Relate to the customer in a manner that creates the emotional connection that allows trust to begin/strengthen the relationship. This leads to the customer’s loyalty to your product/brand.

Listen intently.

  • Understand and learn about the customer on a deeper level so needs can be anticipated and met proactively.

Follow through and follow up.

  • Customers base their trust and future interactions on what is promised. You build trust, integrity and respect in the relationship not only when you follow through on what you say you’ll do, but more importantly, when you follow up to ensure what was promised is what was received.

Training employees to leverage soft skills can enhance and drive the customer relationship to a deeper and more engaged level. Employees who understand which soft skills come naturally to them also understand which ones to avoid. When employees are empowered to approach in the style that allows them to be natural and authentic, they are much more successful in customer interactions. This result is highly engaged employees in tune with the customer base.

Engaged employees have the opportunity, authority and ability to capture the customer’s attention and instill the desire for excellence. They feel emotionally connected to customers because they truly care about the success of the organization, both emotionally and socially.

Soft skills, when tightly integrated with technology and processes, allows companies to provide the customer experience that exceeds customer expectations and truly delights.

Lea Durbin

Lea Durbin

Lea Durbin

I joined Interactive Intelligence in December 2011. In my current role of customer experience program specialist, I oversee and manage the Interactive Intelligence quality program, customer loss assessment program, as well as the global ambassador program. Prior to joining Interactive Intelligence, I held a variety of roles in industries such as higher education, pharmaceutical, and healthcare. I gained experience in process improvement, developing and implementing corporate standards and best practices in cross functional global environments, leading internal global teams in branding and marketing efforts, as well as administration. I hold a dual associates degree in business administration and visual communications from American Intercontinental University. I am an active member in the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), Customer Reference Professionals Organization (CRP), International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), and the National Notary Association. I am heavily involved with the Interactive Intelligence Foundation as the committee chair for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. I also serve on the development board and speakers bureau for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, which resulted in Congressional recognition in 2013. I am passionate about bringing the personal connection to the customer experience and am continuously looking for ways to enhance, improve and strengthen our relationships with our customers.