The Term Soft Skills is an Oxymoron

The Real Problem With Customer Service
The real problem with customer service is the mindset most leaders have of what it takes to deliver good customer service:

“Hiring good people with common sense and soft skills.”

That is totally wrong! It is so much more than that. The first part is the term “common sense” which typically is described as one using their best judgment based on what they have been taught. Think about that. How would you compare your “best judgment” in your twenties compared to now? There is no best judgment seed planted into our head when we turn 16, 18 or 21. If there is, please tell me how I can get it for my 24 year old!

Soft Skills is Not What You Think
The second term is “soft skills.” When you search the meaning of the phrase soft skills, the following definitions come up:

desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude

“…do not depend on acquired knowledge” could not be more wrong. Here is where the contradiction comes in. When you search the term “skill” by itself, you will find:

the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well; competent excellence in performance; expertness; dexterity.

So we would all agree that the term ‘skill’ means something that a person acquires from increased training, knowledge, learning, and practice, which then can give them an expertise at that skill. Then, why the moment we add the word “soft” in front of “skill,” does it go from an ‘acquired competence’ to ‘does not depend on acquired knowledge’?

Customer Experience Training
How many hours do you train new employees before they can start interacting with your Customer? It may be two days, two weeks, one month. Whatever it is, now do that math. How many of those hours is technical training: product knowledge, processing orders, scheduling appointments, etc. versus Customer experience training: Customer service vision, non-negotiable standards, building Customer rapport, service recovery, etc.? The vast majority of businesses spend 98-100% of training on the technical part of the job and breeze over their Customer service philosophy because they think it is common sense.

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Your Service Training Needs to be Certifiable Just Like Technical Training
It all comes down to Service Aptitude training. If today’s younger generation lacks the skills gained from human interactions, who is responsible for improving their people skills and increasing their Service Aptitude? The businesses that hire them! We need to have better training programs, not just training on product knowledge and the technical side of the job, but also training & certification on the soft skills. The companies that deliver world-class Customer service are the companies that understand this fact and provide training in Customer service skills.

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.