11 Crucial Customer Service Skills for IT Pros (and How to Develop Them)

customer service skills

Like the character House on the TV series of the same name, there are a few IT pros who are exceptionally good at the technologies they support. They’re so talented and knowledgeable, in fact, that their employers and coworkers will tolerate poor customer service or interpersonal skills in order to gain the benefit of their technical skills and knowledge. Most people, frankly, aren’t at that level.

I worked at a radio station where the chief engineer was exceptionally talented. He had a deep knowledge of audio systems and RF (radio frequency) systems, better than nearly anyone I’d known before. He was also gruff, argumentative, and generally disagreeable. On top of that, he had poor personal hygiene habits.

We tolerated his bad behavior for a while but finally made the decision to replace him with someone who was both technically competent and easy to work with. The person who replaced him had both good technical skills and good people skills.

As an IT professional, your professional skills such as coding, server management, or technical support are what you use to perform the tasks of your job. Your interpersonal or customer service skills are how you build your career through successful relationships with customers and coworkers.

Here are 11 Crucial Customer Service Skills for IT Pros (and How to Develop Them)

Communication is a Crucial Customer Service Skill

Communication, of course, is a two-way street. You send communication to others to share important information. You receive communication from others to gain important information. Your medium of communication could be a conversation, email, Slack messages, text, chat, Zoom, or something else. Regardless of the medium, you are responsible for ensuring the successful sending of messages. You are also responsible for ensuring you correctly understand the messages you receive. That may seem unfair that you bear responsibility for both the accurate sending and the accurate receiving of messages. Doesn’t the other person also bear responsibility?

Certainly, both people in a communication exchange are responsible for ensuring the accuracy and understanding of the communication, but you can’t control the other person. You can only control yourself and the choices you make. That means that you must send a communication in a way that gets your message through to the receiver, perhaps by choosing their preferred method of communication and choosing word choices appropriate for the receiver, while still maintaining your personal authenticity and integrity.

You must also consider the style of communication, such as business or personal, coworker or customer. It also means that, when you receive communication, you are responsible for using good listening skills. You must ensure you accurately understand the messages from the sender, perhaps by confirming your understanding of the message with the sender. Work each day on improving your customer service and communication skills.

Also, remember to let your customer or coworker know what’s going on. When they don’t hear from you, they create their own story and it’s rarely a good one! Keep them informed.

Attention to Detail

IT pros are responsible for nearly everyone being able to do their jobs successfully. IT is the underlying fabric that supports the world through communication and collaboration. Your work is incredibly important and you must leave nothing to chance. Make a habit of working from a checklist and always reviewing your work to ensure its completeness and accuracy. You can improve your attention to detail through time management, active listening, and avoiding the temptation to multi-task. Review your work before submitting it to ensure you haven’t overlooked any important detail or made a sloppy error. Remember, your attention to detail in one area affects your credibility in all areas of your work and career.

The Customer Service Skill of Resourcefulness

No matter how well-prepared you are, life is full of surprises. Your ability to adapt to changing circumstances, to call on available resources, and to find creative solutions, even in the face of frustrating situations, will serve you and your customers well. When you’re faced with difficulty, pause, ask colleagues for help and review all possible solutions. If you have the luxury of time, wait to deliver the solution until you’ve had time to think about it, reflect on it, and consider options.

Empathy for the Customer

Empathy is when you put yourself in the other person’s position. It’s when you try to imagine how they’re feeling and what you would want if you were in their position. You experience empathy when you grip the armrest when something bad happens in a movie or when you gasp as someone stumbles on the sidewalk. You show empathy to your customers and coworkers when you imagine their frustration or fear when systems fail, preventing them from doing their jobs.

When customers contact you for support, help, or instructions, they want to be understood completely. Your customer service skills include working with your customer and understanding their concerns. Relate to the customer’s feelings first, use positive language, an appropriate tone and emotion, and communicate with empathy.

A crucial skill for an IT pro is empathy. Imagine how you would feel if you were in the position of your customer or coworker. What would you want or need if you were in their situation? Your ability to show empathy will allow you to provide excellent service to your customers and a positive experience with your coworkers.


Communication styles vary. As an IT customer service pro, you need to remain flexible and adapt to your customers’ changing requests as well as their nature and moods. Customer service professionals interact with multiple customers in a day, and everyone has a different demeanor and mood. Sometimes, one customer exhibits multiple moods, changing from day-to-day or even moment-to-moment. Learn to adapt accordingly and be versatile in your interactions with your customers.

Product Knowledge

Complete product knowledge is a required customer service skill for IT pros. Product knowledge is also known as technical competence, principle #1 of the 5 principles of IT customer service. You simply can’t do your job without understanding the products, services, and technologies with which you work. You must strive to be the best in the world at the technologies you support. You may not necessarily become the best in the world, but in striving toward that goal, you will achieve excellence.

A Human Touch

Having a human touch means you don’t read from a script. If you’re a manager in a company that requires tech support agents to read from a script with no deviation, stop it! Don’t make your people sound like robots. Instead, train your people on customer service skills; active listening skills, conflict resolution, and communication skills. Teach them how to be better listeners and how to treat frustrated callers with dignity and respect. Don’t believe people who say it can’t be done. We’ve been teaching technical people how to interact successfully with other people for years. Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Stephen Covey, Daniel Goleman, and others have been helping people improve their people skills through books, videos, and training for even longer.


I called my insurance company with a simple question. The phone cut out for a moment as the agent was answering my question. I asked him to repeat his answer. He sighed audibly and began to speak slowly in a condescending manner as though I was not very smart. This continued for a short while longer until I finally hung up in frustration and called back to get a different agent.

Think about a time when you were frustrated with a product. No matter what you did, you couldn’t get it to work properly. In your frustration, you called a customer service line for help. Now, think about the times when a customer service agent had a positive attitude, was patient with you, and treated you well. How did that make you feel? Now, think about the times when a customer service agent was impatient with you and treated you poorly. How did that make you feel? Be patient with your customers, with your coworkers, and even with yourself!

The Customer Service Skill of Follow Through

This customer service skill is about doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. When you tell your customer or coworker you’ll send them some piece of information, do it! This skill is also about surprising your customer or coworker by checking in with them afterward to ensure the repair (or whatever you did) is working as expected.

If you don’t have the answer or solution to something, or you’re missing some details, let your customer know that you will find out and get back to them. Then, get the necessary information and follow up with your customer as soon as possible. You don’t want to annoy your customers by making them wait on you. Deliver attentively, effectively, and in a timely fashion.

Remember, strong customer service skills include communicating. Just because you haven’t heard back from the person you helped, don’t assume everything is working correctly. Follow through!

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence involves your ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others, to manage your own emotions, and to respond appropriately to emotions in others. Phrases that describe people with high emotional intelligence might include “keeping your cool”, “even-tempered”, “acting like a grownup”, or “easy to work with”. You’ll lean on emotional intelligence in difficult situations. Whether experiencing co-worker conflict or communicating with unhappy customers, a measured reaction will help diffuse a situation quickly. Being emotionally intelligent does not mean never showing your emotions. It means you respond appropriately in emotionally charged situations. Another way to look at it is that a high level of emotional intelligence helps you manage your emotions rather than letting them manage you.


Say please, thank you, and you’re welcome. Treat others with dignity and respect, even when you don’t feel they are acting respectfully. Your ability to act with grace and aplomb in all situations, often a difficult task, is a characteristic that will help you build relationships and respect throughout your career. Resist the temptation to lower yourself to the level of people around you who act poorly.

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