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9 vital customer service manager skills

9 vital customer service manager skills featured image

The right customer service manager skills and qualities can be the difference between repeat customers and one-off patrons who leave bad online reviews.

Expert customer service competency includes soft skills like problem-solving, communication, and diplomacy. These abilities ensure companies build great reputations and retain loyal customers for years, but they can be hard to come across.

This article explores the top nine customer service and management skills of a great manager, how to assess them in a candidate, and how to improve them.

9 fundamental customer service manager skills and traits

A customer service manager needs nine customer service management skills to manage a loyal customer base – 65% of people believe a positive experience with a company is more influential than great advertising.

What does a customer service manager do? 

The skill set needed in a customer service manager job includes organization, leadership, critical thinking, and communication. Soft skills play a major part in this job description and encompass more than half of the required competencies.

Let’s take a look at these critical skills and what they mean.

1. Performance management

Performance management is a vital customer service manager skill. These professionals must create and monitor their team’s goals and track individual employee performance.

About three-quarters of people who experience “very good” customer service forgive a bad experience, but only 15% of people who experience “very poor” customer service say the same.

“Very poor” customer service isn’t as obvious as you may think and takes a keen mind to spot. It includes:

  • Sounding impatient

  • Not saying sorry

  • Failing to empathize

Customer service managers should be familiar with different motivation and coaching techniques to ensure teams work efficiently and at peak performance levels, ultimately leading to better customer satisfaction.

2. Reading comprehension

The ability to understand written materials is a vital customer service competency. This skill ensures managers can read policies and guidelines and fully understand them.

This ability helps them understand the rules and instruct their team on correct behaviors and protocols.

Customer service managers also use reading comprehension to solve customer issues. Understanding emails and customer support requests enables customer service managers to solve problems accurately and quickly and improve their team’s performance.

3. Communication skills

Communication is one of the main skills of a customer service manager. They must effectively communicate expectations, provide customer feedback, offer direction to employees, and listen attentively to customer problems to facilitate day-to-day conflict resolution.

Communication isn’t just about talking, either. It includes:

  • Reading customers and diffusing difficult situations

  • Interpreting body language and facial expressions

  • Using emotional intelligence for customer retention

  • Offering constructive feedback

  • Using an appropriate tone of voice

  • Displaying empathy

Customer service managers are in charge of other employees and customer relations, which means they’re often liaisons between them. Expert customer service management skills enable them to understand customer needs, communicate them to the support team, and improve future experiences.

4. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills are among the top characteristics of customer service employees who excel. They must quickly identify potential issues and come up with acceptable solutions, including:

  • Thinking on their feet

  • Weighing options

  • Confidently and promptly making decisions 

Problems arise internally and externally, from customer complaints to employee disputes. A good customer service manager should be able to handle these issues effectively and keep the team’s morale high and customers satisfied.

Managing conflict on both sides is essential because 94% of people say customer treatment influences their buying decisions, and 85% say that employee treatment does.

5. Organizational skills

What does a customer service manager do to manage and prioritize multiple tasks? These professionals need keen organizational and time management skills to handle the complicated duties of the customer service department effectively.

Customer service managers must manage the team's workload, address customer complaints on time, and document their findings.

They should also be familiar with software tools that help them track customer interactions for quality assurance purposes.

6. Leadership skills

Leadership skills are strong interpersonal abilities that help customer service managers develop their teams. These professionals must:

  • Manage conflicts between teams and employees

  • Delegate tasks

  • Provide direction

  • Recognize good performance

These are customer service manager key skills. Customer service managers must create an atmosphere of trust and respect within the team. They must encourage collaboration and provide incentives that can motivate employees. 

They should also recognize potential areas of improvement and develop solutions for them, improving the employee and customer experience.

7. Critical thinking

Critical thinking empowers professionals to evaluate complex information and make informed decisions, making it one of the most important skills for a customer service manager.

Customer service managers must analyze metrics, identify trends, weigh arguments, optimize workflows, and determine the cause of problems.

They also need to think strategically about improving processes and customer satisfaction levels. Good customer service managers use their critical thinking skills to develop new ideas and initiatives that benefit the team and the company.

8. Diplomacy

Diplomacy and negotiation are two skills for a customer service manager that enable them to handle difficult conversations and mediate misunderstandings.

It means maintaining a professional attitude, resolving issues, and dealing with demanding customers. Managers must also help their team keep calm during heated moments.

Good customer service managers navigate challenging conversations without losing their cool, even when faced with hostile customers or team members. They should also understand different cultures to avoid misunderstanding or offending customers.

9. Patience

Patience is essential. Customers can be demanding, and it can be exhausting to ask them about their issues and remain calm. This customer service competency also helps when making multiple requests or explaining a policy repeatedly.

Good customer service managers need the patience to remain calm and polite throughout all interactions, no matter how frustrating they may become.

How to assess customer service manager skills and traits

Learning how to assess customer service manager skills ensures you hire the ideal candidate the first time.

Customer service skills are difficult to gauge through a resume since they’re predominantly soft. Because of this, traditional hiring methods aren’t cutting it; only 18% of those in managerial roles show a high level of talent for managing others.

Skills-based hiring practices, such as talent assessments and structured interviews, offer a reliable, accurate evaluation of customer service manager skills and qualities.

1. Customer Service test

The Customer Service test measures how well a candidate responds to customer needs and provides effective solutions.

This customer care assessment test covers customer inquiries, problem-solving, and the ability to work with diverse people. It also assesses:

  • Communication skills

  • Adherence to protocols and guidelines

  • Knowledge of policies and ethics

  • Ability to build customer relationships

A sample question from TestGorilla's Customer Service test

For more examples, check out our Customer Service test sample questions.

This talent assessment evaluates an applicant’s competency in resolving customer issues, finding specific solutions, and displaying excellent customer service, including professionalism and patience.

2. Reading Comprehension test

The Reading Comprehension test evaluates the ability to understand written materials, including the level of comprehension and the accuracy with which they process information from text.

This test measures how a candidate interprets, analyzes, and evaluates written passages. It also gauges how well they recall information from the text.

Customer service manager skills assessments include this test to ensure candidates understand and interpret customer queries and complaints accurately.

3. Communication test

Assessing communication skills is important for all customer service job titles, from customer relationship managers to customer support supervisors.

The Communication test gauges written and verbal communication, non-verbal cues, and active listening.

An example question from TestGorilla's Communication test

This customer care assessment test ensures your new hires effectively clarify customer messages and use professional etiquette, improving overall customer satisfaction.

It also ensures your customer service managers have what it takes to maintain strong employee relationships by mitigating risks, building trust, and providing direction. 

4. Problem Solving test

The Problem Solving test evaluates a candidate’s ability to identify problems, develop creative solutions, and implement them effectively.

This test measures candidate skills in problem identification and resolution. It evaluates a candidate’s capacity to:

  • Assess issues accurately

  • Break them down into individual components

  • Develop practical solutions

Successful candidates can evaluate relevant data, remember recurring problems, adjust schedules, and implement a plan for solving problems in an organized and effective manner.

5. Time Management test

Our Time Management test gauges an applicant’s ability to organize and prioritize tasks. A customer service manager skills assessment must evaluate how candidates manage hectic workloads, their team’s capacity, and internal and external communication.

A sample question from TestGorilla's Time Management test

Contentoo uses this test to hire client-facing roles. It combines Time Management, Communication, and Negotiation tests to hire high-quality, motivated customer success professionals.

Get access to the Time Management test

Our free forever plan includes unlimited access to the Time Management test so you can get started immediately.

6. Leadership & People Management test

The Leadership & People Management test evaluates the ability to manage and lead teams effectively. It evaluates customer service manager key skills, including:

  • Delegating tasks

  • Managing conflict

  • Setting realistic employee expectations

The test requires the candidate to show their understanding of how individuals respond in different situations. Successful candidates show an aptitude for offering guidance, developing a healthy environment, and building effective strategies.

A strong customer care assessment test can discover a candidate who confidently and consistently provides helpful advice, direction, and guidance.

7. Critical Thinking test

Our Critical Thinking test evaluates the ability to think logically, critically, and analytically. It measures a candidate’s capacity to:

  • Assess situations

  • Make rational decisions

  • Develop creative solutions

Critical thinking is an essential customer service management skill because managers must accurately interpret customer needs and determine the best solution. 

It’s another test that gauges solid leadership skills – through this test, you can see if a candidate has what it takes to hone the skills of your customer service team.

Organizations can use this test to ensure that potential managers can make sound decisions and provide customers with the best service possible.

8. Culture add test 

Customer service management skills like performance management and leadership require a good understanding of company culture. 

Further, culturally aligned managers make for a better team. Aligning with company culture increases overall engagement for your managers, and, according to Gallup, employees who work for engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged. 

The Culture Add test is an objective, fair way to measure cultural values in a candidate. The methodology behind this test goes beyond traditional “culture fit” assessments, which fits employees into a specific mold. Finding a culture fit is exclusionary and leads to biased hiring.

On the other hand, the Culture Add test focuses on a candidate’s common values and encourages diverse behaviors and beliefs. It accomplishes this by scoring candidates based on a survey you fill out detailing your company’s culture.

A snippet from TestGorilla's Culture Add test setup

This test helps you find candidates who align with the existing culture, but more importantly, you can find candidates who positively contribute to growing your culture.

9. Personality tests

Some customer service manager skills and qualities are tricky to gauge. A candidate’s diplomacy and patience are more like personality traits than skills.

When learning how to assess customer service manager skills, remember to use a few personality tests. For example, the Enneagram test evaluates conscientiousness, diplomacy, and worldview. It can tell you if your call center candidate would approach a new customer in a way that inspires their loyalty.

Another example is the DISC test, which helps you understand how patient an applicant is.

It’s also important to look for these traits in a structured interview. Get a head start by checking out our retail manager interview questions.

TestGorilla can help your gauge soft skills

Discover how to accurately gauge vital soft skills in our free live demo!

Summary: The 9 key customer service manager skills and how to test for them

Customer service manager skills

How to assess them

Performance management

Gauge how a candidate motivates and develops their team

Reading comprehension

Assess a candidate’s ability to analyze, understand, and process written text

Communication skills

Evaluate the applicant’s verbal and written communication


Uncover how a potential hire identifies issues and reaches satisfying solutions

Organizational skills

Determine if a candidate can handle multiple tasks and manage their time effectively

Leadership skills

Assess how a candidate delegates tasks, makes confident decisions, and manages conflict

Critical thinking

Determine how well an applicant assesses situations and thinks analytically and logically


Evaluate if a candidate successfully mediates conflict and disarms heated conversations


Gauge how an applicant handles demanding customers and irate coworkers

How to develop customer service manager skills

Improving customer service and management skills is essential for junior employees looking to grow and seasoned managers who want to hone their abilities. So what does a customer service representative do to develop in a customer service manager role?

We recommend using talent assessments to establish baseline skills and understand a starting point. From here, launch into training programs, mentorships, and certification courses.

Here are five methods to improve customer service manager skills and qualities:



1. Assess baseline skills with talent assessments

Use skills tests to discover strong points and areas of improvement

2. Try leadership courses

Attend leadership training to gain people management skills and improve interpersonal competencies, including learning how to deal with an angry customer and improve the work environment

3. Seek mentorship opportunities

Consider mentorship with an expert customer service manager to learn and build a valuable relationship

4. Look for cross-functional opportunities

Pursue opportunities with other teams to build skills, learn customer service software, and gain deeper insights into the company

5. Consider relevant certifications

Seek out certification courses to learn relevant customer service and management skills and recent industry trends

Assess and hire the best customer service managers with TestGorilla

Hiring the best customer service manager is critical to your company’s success. Finding the right customer service manager skills and qualities ensures a good hire and helps you build a reputable business.

You can find these complex competencies with talent assessments. Resumes can’t show a candidate’s communication and patience skills, but skills-based hiring practices can.

Try talent assessments for yourself by signing up for a free forever plan today. 

You can also book a live demo with one of our experts to see our skills tests in action.

If you’d like to check out the skills-based hiring process on your own, explore our product tour.

Customer service manager skills FAQs

To finish up, let’s answer a few frequently asked questions about the top skills of a customer service manager.

What is a customer service manager?

A customer service manager is a professional responsible for a team of customer service representatives. They maintain customer satisfaction through loyalty programs, coaching employees, and providing direct guidance. These employees require a deep understanding of company goals to represent businesses and maintain their reputations successfully. 

What is the role of customer service manager?

The main responsibilities of a customer service manager include guiding team members, answering customer questions, mitigating conflict, and solving issues. It can involve educating customers and employees on policies, guidelines, and technical information. This role also requires the right customer service and management skills to help teammates develop in their roles and grow professionally.

Why are customer service manager skills important?

Customer service manager skills ensure quality customer service, providing a satisfactory customer experience. They also increase operational efficiency, boost employee morale, and shape a positive brand image. These skills build a strong team and influence customer buying decisions.

What makes a great customer service leader?

Customer service manager skills such as organization, communication, diplomacy, and critical thinking are the foundation of a strong leader. These professionals need essential skills and effective communication to manage customer service agents, face difficult customers, and resolve complex issues without losing customer loyalty.

Which certification is best for a service manager?

The most common customer service manager certifications are Certified Customer Service Manager (CCSM), Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), Customer Service Management Professional (CSMP), and Certified Customer Service Leader (CCSL). These certifications give professionals a deep understanding of customer needs to display a commitment to excellence and learning. They enable a frontline customer service rep to know how to become a customer service manager.

What is a customer service manager skills assessment?

A customer service manager skills assessment is a structured test that evaluates skills and competencies. It helps you identify crucial problem-solving, communication, leadership, and negotiation abilities. The assessment also provides a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, helping you plan possible development opportunities.


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