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IT professionals may think they’re in the tech industry, but the reality is that they’re actually in the service industry. IT jobs are really about helping end-users do their jobs more productively, efficiently, and creatively. No matter their specific technical role, your IT workers are using their specialized skills in service to another employee, customer, or business. This means that great interpersonal skills are essential to doing their job properly – and if they don’t master those skills, it can seriously impact overall performance, customer satisfaction, and the success of your business. Here are six customer service skills your team can’t afford to lack.

Must-Have Customer Service Skills for IT Professionals

Genuine Empathy. Let’s be honest – people don’t call the Help Desk because things are going well. They call because something isn’t working the way it should or they’re experiencing an all-out emergency. A good IT professional understands that the person needing their help is in the midst of a frustrating experience and is able to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. This enhances their level of service and motivates them to solve the problem in a way that puts the customer’s experience at the forefront.

Solid Listening Skills. There’s a difference between allowing the customer time to explain their problem and really listening to what they have to say. It’s not uncommon for a highly-skilled IT worker to “know” what the issue is early-on in a conversation, mentally jumping ahead to how to help with the solution. The truth is, even if you allow time for the customer to finish the explanation and feel heard, if not fully engaged in the listening process you risk missing out on valuable information that aids in the problem-solving process, on either a technical or interpersonal level.

Clear Communication Abilities. Your team members have exceptional technical knowledge and you’re confident they have the skills to solve nearly any problem that comes their way. But do they have the ability to clearly articulate those solutions to a frustrated customer or co-worker? An exceptional IT worker has the communication skills to walk a customer through the solution in a way that helps them feel empowered rather than diminished, relieved rather than frustrated, and validated rather than dismissed. This skill is key to making any interaction a positive one for every party involved.

Desire to Serve. A good IT professional wants to solve a technical problem. A great IT professional wants to solve a technical problem because they understand that their work enhances the lives of those they serve. Being service-motivated rather than simply being task-motivated adds meaning and richness to a person’s work and helps them interact with customers in a way that makes them feel valued and important.

Patience. Everyone responds to frustration differently, and it stands to reason that there will be customers whose irritation gets misplaced and spills over into their interaction with an IT person who’s trying to help. While nobody should have to endure abusive behavior, it’s important that an IT professional understands their role in either diffusing or escalating a tenuous situation. An IT worker with good customer service skills is able to set aside their personal feelings and help their customers feel validated and heard rather than acting defensive or angry when a customer is acting less than courteous.

Self-Motivated to Excellence. There’s a way to do a job, and there’s a way to do it well. An IT professional needs to be self-motivated to do their job well, and this is apparent in their level of customer service. Beyond simply fixing a problem, they are concerned about fixing the problem permanently for their customers; they also follow up as necessary in order to make sure the job is done to completion. 

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