Good customer service skills are crucial even if the career you want to go into doesn’t involve the general public; you’re still going to have to chat to other humans, and nobody wants to work with a prick.

Thankfully, we got some top advice from customer service guru Karen McIntosh who deals with a whole range of issues at The O2 – from people getting reseated to full-on antisocial behaviour – and has worked on Disney on Ice, WWE AND Jay-Z’s show to name just a few.

Behold: the golden rules. Follow these and the “good customer service skills” currently padding out the skills section of your CV will be well and truly justified.

Thou shalt listen properly

Staring at someone with a glazed expression and wondering whether their eyes are more green than blue doesn’t count as listening. That’s just looking. “Listen actively, which means really paying attention and making sure you’re taking in everything,” says Karen. Taking notes helps if you’re on the phone, but if it’s face to face then just concentrate.

Thou shalt not take it personally

When a customer’s being a total @#&! you have to remember that they’re mad at the company, or the product, or the service – not specifically at you. “Ultimately remember you’re a problem solver, they’ve come to you for help. Don’t take it personally!” Karen adds.

Thou shalt read their body language

“You can get two people with exactly the same incident, but they’re expressing it in completely different ways,” says Karen. “You’d deal with each person in a different way – I always try to mirror their body language and the way in which they’re speaking.” If someone is nervous or shy, then don’t adopt an aggressive stance, similarly to someone who is really confrontational – making yourself look all small and feeble is just going to imply that you’re not able to deal with the issues.

Thou shalt always empathise

Showing you really understand your customer will create an important bond between you and the customer. “Repeating what they’ve said to confirm and then saying ‘I completely understand why you’d be so upset’ really clarified that you’ve understood,” says Karen. “That’s a big part of listening – understanding.”

Thou shalt not say “I can’t help you sorry bye”

Even if you can’t do anything to help them, someone else might be able to. Never leave a conversation having not made suggestions as to where the customer can get help. “The last thing anyone wants is to go through a whole bunch of stages and problems only to have someone make out like they can’t help. If you really can’t help, always have a solution as to someone who could, or another route they could try,” suggests Karen.

Thou shalt not flip out

You have to remain calm and you have to be patient because hey, it’s your job. “Remember that you’re a customer too sometimes, and you’ve been in frustrating positions before – I like to take a step back and imagine I’m in their shoes,” advises Karen. If you’re a there to help, you can’t get frustrated or start crying because that’s not going to help anyone.

Thou shalt learn to destress thyself

It’s a hard job, dealing with people’s problems all day – especially because a lot of people get frustrated when they have problems and are likely to take it out on poor old you. “I play music and, in front of my desk, I’ve got lots of random photos and things that inspire me for those moments when it all gets a bit hard,” Karen says. “It’s really important to keep yourself happy!” Remember folks, a SAD customer service person is a BAD customer service person! Sorry, that was too far.

Thou shalt be nice to the rest of thy (thine?) team

When the shit hitteth the fan, you don’t want to be the only one standing near the aforementioned fan, crying. “Having a like-minded, nice group of people around you is really important. Sometimes you need someone who’ll cover for you if you need to take five minutes and grab a coffee after a difficult situation,” says Karen. “All jobs are so much better when you can talk to your colleagues and ask them for help.” Plus, it helps to have people you can call in as reinforcements if there’s a particularly difficult customer/tricky situation

Thou shalt look good

“As annoying as it sounds, it’s the first thing that people see. “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but it does affect things,” says Karen. Looking good doesn’t mean trying way too hard, either; good in customer service merely means neutral: “You have to look neutral simply because of the amount of different people you’re trying to relate to – also you’re in a professional environment, so going too far in either direction would be distracting and sort of unsuitable.” Probably leave the purple lipstick/mohawk behind, then.

Thou shalt smile constantly

Not like you’re a lunatic, but a sort of calm serene smile that radiates friendliness and positivity. “Smile all the time, whether you’re speaking to a customer or you’ve had a bad experience personally and are about to start a shift,” says Karen. ” A positive attitude is so important, while resolving an issue or just gathering your thoughts after a difficult day. Stay positive!” :)

Now you’ve got your customer service skills up to scratch, why not apply for one of these O2 retail opportunities and get some extra cash for being uber helpful to people with phone-based problems?

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