In music — and in many other things — practice makes perfect. In fact, an advanced piano player practices for about 10 years before they’re able to play at an expert level.No matter what profession you're in, practicing is an essential component to improving your skills. In customer service, reps must practice their communication skills and be able to anticipate and analyze different types of customer interactions. That’s why service teams often undergo training that helps them acquire these valuable abilities. Even the most experienced reps can use these lessons to sharpen their skill set while simultaneously passing down tricks to newer teammates.
Companies that are looking to provide their reps with customer service training can easily find options both online and in person. These services can be simple like a free lesson with minimal time investment or they can be an intense, multi-week training that drills into a specific curriculum.
If you work in customer service, at any level, this article will outline why you need a customer service certification and the types of certifications you can obtain. We’ve also compiled a list of the most effective training certifications and programs that will take your career to the next level.
Why do you need a customer service certification?
A customer service certification gives employers confidence that the customer service rep or manager has a higher-than-average ability to do the job. A certification from a reputable organization demonstrates competency in customer service that a non-certified rep wouldn’t be expected to deliver.
Certifications aren’t necessarily a one-time commitment. They usually require ongoing training for professionals to stay up to date with the latest best practices in their field. Having a customer service certification shows teammates and leaders that a service rep is committed to their work and on par with top talent in the customer service field.
Aside from the professional competence associated with certifications, many employers and hiring managers place monetary value on them as well. If you’re looking for a raise at your current place of work, or seeking new opportunities, certifications can be a tool that you can leverage to negotiate pay, benefits, and higher responsibilities.
7 Types of Customer Service Certifications
Customer Service Certification
Help Desk Certification
Call Center Certification
Client Services Certification
Client Services Manager Certification
Customer Experience Certification
Customer Service Leadership Certification
These certifications may sound similar, but each comes with qualifications that are must-haves in the customer service industry. Depending on your focus, you’ll find a certification for just about any area in which you’re looking to advance your skill set
1. Customer Service Certification
If you’re a newly-hired customer service rep or an experienced one, you’ll find a real-world environment to hone your skills in a customer service certification. Whether you obtain this certification online or in-person, most will offer an instructor-led class that’s tailored to your organization’s specific goals. This certification helps you become a better problem solver and communicator through role-playing exercises and group discussions about concepts you’ll rely on to serve customers.
When choosing a help desk certification, you should prioritize options offered by your help desk software provider. These tactical certifications get an immediate return on investment because they teach service leaders how to manage incoming customer inquiries using their company’s support software.
If you’re taking a few hours a week from your day-to-day tasks to earn this certification (and better yet — if that certification costs money) you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned fairly quickly and spread that knowledge among your team.
Once you’ve demonstrated competency with your help desk software, you can take on more advanced certifications like HDI-CSR which explains the strategy behind using customer service tools to enhance soft skills in communication.
Many customer support reps begin their service career by working in a call center, but did you know you could earn a certification for this type of role?
A call center certification validates the technical, communication, and service skills of customer support reps working in an inbound or outbound call center. To earn this certification, you’ll establish a baseline assessment of your skillset, improve your performance, and substantiate your skills with an assessment. Companies like Microsoft use this certification to manage call center metrics, implement best practices, and increase performance within their teams.
Ideal for entry-level professionals, the client service specialist certification (CCSS) provides a foundational understanding of the customer service industry. To earn this certification, reps will need to demonstrate the right blend of knowledge and skills in both customer service and sales functions. This type of certification will mold them into well-rounded key players on any customer service team.
The client service manager certification is offered from a leadership point of view. If you’re currently a customer service rep, you can forge a path to a leadership position with this certification. It certifies your skills in applying best practices for customer service, sales, coaching, and leading.
Earn your client service leader certification from:
The customer experience transcends any one function and is often the responsibility of every team, but customer service reps champion that experience by becoming certified customer experience professionals. When a company can craft processes and responses that make the customer feel valued, seen, and appreciated, the entire business benefits. With this certification, you can help lead a key function within your organization.
For customer service reps working toward a senior leadership position, a customer Service mManager certification is a worthwhile investment. You’ll learn strategy, technical skills, and practical ways to apply your knowledge of customer service with confidence. This type of certification can be used to leverage a promotion, transition into a new role, or boost your resume if you’re considering a career in consulting.
Earn your customer service leadership certification from:
Best Customer Service and Support Training Programs
Customer Service Training by Alison
Support Professional Training by Service Strategies
Culture of Services: Paradox of Customer Relations by edX
Call Center Customer Service by Universal Class
Customer Service Advantage by Bonfire Training
Customer Service Refresher Training by Business Training Works
Communication by SkillPath
A+ Customer Care by WorkLifeBalance
7 Essentials to Excellent Customer Service by GoSkills
Free Customer Service Training by LiveChat
CSM Certification Program by The Success League
Attitudes for Service by Dale Carnegie
ITIL® Training and Certification by Skill Soft
Customer service and support training programs come in a variety of formats. Some can be extremely extensive and provide in-depth coverage of a topic, while others discuss general knowledge of customer service fundamentals. For our list, we looked for a diverse group of options that should be helpful for any customer service team.
HubSpot Academy offers a few different courses that provide useful customer service lessons. The most notable one being the new Inbound Certification course which includes the most recent updates to the Inbound Methodology.
HubSpot Academy even offers customer service training that's specific to HubSpot's users. For example, its "Service Hub" course explains how to use the Service Hub tools throughout the reps daily workflow. This includes actions like setting up the knowledge base, installing chat snippets, and connecting your support inbox to the conversations tool.
Alison's customer service training program is designed for employees at any stage of their customer service career. It introduces the basic concepts of customer service through a 1-2 hour online course. The goal of the training is to teach reps how to handle difficult customer interactions while understanding why they occur in the first place.
The course dives into the process of creating a customer-focused approach to customer service. It covers topics like handling inquiries and complaints from customers as well as reading stressful situations to determine the best outcome. The skills and fundamentals obtained from this training program are essential for delivering consistent customer satisfaction.
This support training provided by Service Strategies helps technical support reps provide high-quality customer service. It focuses on teaching them effective communication techniques when providing a technical solution. Sometimes these answers can be tricky to explain to customers, so it's important to learn how to communicate these solutions using the customer's language.
The two-day course is built for anyone in a customer service department or anyone who regularly interacts with customers. Service Strategies even offers three ways of attending the training: on-site, public, or online.
For on-site training, Service Strategies sends an instructor to the company to administer the course while public training occurs at various locations in groups of 15 attendees. Its online course is self-paced and available for 60 days after registration.
4. Culture of Services: New Perspective on Customer Relations by edX
edX's customer relations training program uses videos of real-life service interactions to teach attendants customer service skills. The videos are taken from businesses that are in retail, food service, and hospitality industries. By using these recordings as a visual aide, the course teaches viewers how to properly analyze customer interactions as well as critique the services in their own businesses.
This training program is an eight-week course that requires an estimated 2-3 hours to complete. Upon passing the course, users have the option to purchase a certificate that confirms their course completion status.
Universal Class is a website that provides accredited courses on just about anything you can think of, including customer service. While it does offer a few customer service courses on its website, one of its most notable ones is the "Call Center Customer Service" course.
This course covers the different responsibilities of a customer service representative as well as the skills needed to succeed when working in a call center. It also discusses common call center etiquette and the roadblocks that a service or support rep can expect to experience in a customer service position.
The course is taken online throughout a six-month period and concludes with a cumulative final exam.
Bonfire offers team training that "uniquely personalize[s] the development experience for each person." Its "Customer Service Advantage" course helps customer service teams come up with an action plan for addressing tricky customer interactions. The goal of this training is to motivate reps to find effective solutions rather than just offering apologetic explanations.
Bonfire's courses are constantly being updated and can be attended over a few different mediums. The first option is an in-person training where Bonfire sends a representative to the company to teach the lesson. The next option is a 90-minute virtual training session that provides a real-time stream to a Bonfire instructor. The final option is a traditional online course that has unlimited access over a 60-day period.
Customer service roles can often be strenuous and it's common for experienced customer service reps to burn out over time. The "Customer Service Refresher Training" offered by Business Training Works aims to re-energize depleted customer service and support workers. It does so by explaining how customer service is changing over time and how customer expectations are evolving as well.
The training program is a half-day day course that is conducted over a three-hour session. It can be held on-site at the business or in a virtual classroom. The course covers a variety of customer service topics that range from "Best Practices for Routine Interactions" to "The Problem Solving Process."
SkillPath's Communication courses provide valuable lessons about communication skills that are imperative to customer service. It has courses that teach things like active listening, negotiation, and technical writing. It also covers important business skills such as professional presentation and "developing a professional presence."
Learning about these skills is great for employees who may lack professional experience. Skill Path's courses are offered both online and on-site at varying prices and duration.
This training program is designed to help reps identify customer needs and resolve service problems in a timely manner. It's built around five customer-centric steps that are focused on sharpening internal and external customer service skills. This makes it an excellent choice for training both customer-facing and internal support teams.
WorkLifeBalance offers its courses both on-site and online. It also provides options to signup for courses as individuals or as a sponsored group.
10. 7 Essentials to Excellent Customer Service by GoSkills
GoSkills offers a variety of online career development programs. This one covers the fundamentals for providing excellent customer service and is great for people who don't have much experience in the customer service field.
This course is 90 minutes long and has 22 practice tutorials. It reviews concepts like creating positive interactions and engaging with customers by focusing on verbal and nonverbal cues. At the end of the program, participants are given a certification for completing the course.
If you're looking for very simple and straightforward training, this is an excellent option for your team. LiveChat's "Free Customer Service Training" is a five-part email course that you sign up for through its website. This makes it a perfect option for busy teams who don't have as much time to train their reps.
This course covers how to retain customers and keep them happy over time. It also discusses how to handle customer complaints and prevent them from becoming escalation issues. The course wraps up by offering some additional customer service tools to assist your team.
For most customer service reps, becoming a customer service or customer success manager is a logical next step in their career. So, if you're looking to build the skills you'll need for professional development, this comprehensive course can provide you with everything you need to land your next job.
This 16-class course takes a deep-dive into the fundamentals of becoming a customer success manager. Classes are one hour long and cover an extensive range of customer service and business management lessons. This includes topics like driving customer advocacy, creating long- and short-term customer goals, and preventing customer churn.
Most customer service training programs focus on technical skills and high-level communication concepts. These are great for introducing people to the basics of customer service, but they don't teach them how to put these practices to best use.
Dale Carnegie's "Attitudes for Service" course focuses on attitude over aptitude. The idea is that it's more important for reps to be personable and friendly than it is to be technically savvy. This three-hour course teaches reps how to increase their self-awareness and how to ask questions that will return meaningful responses. That way, they'll find the information they're looking for, while still generating a delightful customer experience.
14. ITIL® Training and Certification by Skill Soft
If you're a part of an internal customer support team, like an IT team, you may be interested in completing your ITIL certification. This is a widely-recognized, entry-level qualification that most reps earn before or during their IT careers.
Skill Soft offers an approved ITIL training program that's recognized by Axelos. Participants learn about the link between IT and business strategy and how to improve their service skills to provide the best output for the company.
Validate Your Customer Service Skills With a Certification
Customer service has many facets that make it the complex, yet rewarding field that it is. From conflict resolution to problem solving to automation best practices, customer service reps, managers, and senior leaders are dedicated to crafting a customer experience that turns people in need of help into brand loyal advocates.
Validating your skills with a certification can prove that you’ve mastered a high-level of competency in the realm of customer service. By using what you’ve learned from any of these certifications and courses, you’ll have a unique opportunity to impact your organization and your customers in a way that makes a positive impact within the business.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Apr 27, 2021 5:00:00 PM, updated June 15 2021