9 Essential Skills for Customer Success in 2021

Last Updated: April 6, 2021

It’s 2021. Customer experience has become more complex and innovative, and customers have become more aware of what they can expect from a business. Customer success managers and leaders should try to identify the skills necessary to meet the expectations and drive their teams to success.

Here are 9 must-have skills to drive customer success in 2021 and how to master them. 

1. Communication

Communication is the most important attribute of a customer success personnel. Even the basic interactions can become difficult if neither party can convey or understand what’s going on clearly. 

Say a customer service representative cannot resolve an issue. Disappointed customers are not easy to handle, to begin with. What could frustrate them more is the lack of a convincing explanation. Without it, the customer takes home an unresolved problem and the disappointment of not being told why. Customers consider service teams as their representatives inside the organization. Your service team members should be highly skilled at articulating what went wrong and what is being done to fix the problem. More than the solution, customers need the assurance that they are being listened to.

2. Listening

Communication can make the situation worse or better depending on how it’s handled. The key to great communication is active listening, which can be tricky in service. Customer service is not an easy space to work in. Most of the time, you are not expecting customers to call up and make another sale or tell how happy they are with your product. You expect problems. You expect customers who are probably on the verge of abandoning you.

The best way to win them back is by listening to them. Listening doesn’t mean lending your ear as long as the call lasts, noting some things down, and giving the answer you typically give. It’s about paying close attention to what the customer says, feels, and responding with what they would want to hear. 

3. Patience and Level-headedness

Hearing the rants of disgruntled customers all day long can be tiring. In their defense, a solution they paid for is not meeting their needs. Imagine a Netflix service outage on a Saturday night. The last thing you would want to hear is a service representative saying service outages are common, and you can’t pin it entirely on the service teams. The purpose of the service teams is to act as an ambassador between the organization and the customers and give the customers the explanation they think they deserve.

Patience saves customer relationships. You can think clearly when you are calm and level-headed, which can invariably calm the other party down and lead to a harmonious atmosphere.

4. Perceptiveness

Perceptiveness is an important skill and not just in customer success. Being perceptive makes you aware of what people mean when they say something and empathize with their motivation. You need to understand customers’ needs, pain points, and even non-verbal cues to develop empathy and connection with them. Only then can you assess the situation neutrally, decide the most suitable solution, and convey it to the customer clearly. 

Emotions do not sway perceptive leaders and employees. They always think strategically and do not handle a situation based on how rational or irrational it appears.

5. Empathy

Empathy is a must-have skill in every people-facing role. Customers may bring problems that may seem insignificant to service experts who have seen a lot in their day. You can’t expect to convince customers by undermining their problems. Understand them, and before providing a solution, try to figure out why it is significant to them. And how? With a strong sense of empathy.

Empathy can help you make meaningful interactions with the customers and understand what they expect from you. Even when you don’t have a solution, put yourself in customers’ shoes and show that you genuinely care. Sometimes that is all a customer expects.

6. Ownership

Most support conversations start with “Who done it.” As a customer-facing employee, it is your responsibility to put the blame game aside and take accountability for solving the problem no matter who caused it. While the customer success teams may not be the cause of the problem, they should establish an environment of collaboration and accountability so that both parties can direct their effort towards attaining a solution.

It is necessary to show that you are playing in the same team, as it assures your customers that you have their best interests at heart.

7. Language

Teams highly skilled in customer advocacy language can get out of any situation. Customer advocacy involves communicating in a positive, personalized, and friendly language that prioritizes customer interests the whole way. It sets the ground rules on what a customer service representative can and can’t say in an interaction and how to say it. 

Language as a skill also includes the ability to articulate, read, and write perfectly. A customer-facing role doesn’t entail expertise in these areas. But you need to have basic language skills to ensure that you don’t come across as unprofessional. Make sure you don’t make grammatical errors in a ticket response or use SMS tone in emails. Customers won’t appreciate the lack of effort. If you want to be taken seriously, be serious in the way you communicate. Language plays an important role in the entire cycle of customer relationship management (CRM), from onboarding new customers to loyalty to customer retention.

8. Resilience

Resilience is more of a character trait than a skill. Persuasion in sales helps you upsell and cross-sell new products to your customers. Resilience helps you to renew the trust you have created and avoid churn. Customers today have choices. 

Marketing experts estimate that the average US customer is exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day.

And that’s a few years ago. A customer support interaction could be your last straw at winning the customer back. The more resilient you are at making your customers succeed, the more you get closer to your own success. 

9. Decisiveness and Problem-solving

No one can handle customer success without being an assertive decision-maker. As a customer success employee, you make decisions all day; when you make an escalation, propose an unconventional solution, or push for an innovative feature in your platform. It can be time-consuming if you constantly second-guess your decisions or seek external validation. Good decision-making also helps you with time management and project management.

You need to be logical and realistic in the way you approach problems. The ability to find the crux of a problem and draw an algorithm for solving it are two must-have skills in customer experience, if not in every function. When combined with product knowledge, your teams can provide the best experience throughout the customer lifecycle and drive core service metrics.


SaaS companies and startups put time into choosing their customer success managers (CSM), as they know successful people build successful customer journeys. Customer success management is a continuous process that involves hiring the right people and enhancing their competency and skillset.

Build a well-rounded team with great CSMs and team members complementing each other’s strengths and shortcomings, and you will see your vision turning to reality in no time. HappyFox strives to enable businesses to become exceptional at customer service. Explore HappyFox or schedule a custom demo to learn how we do it.