In customer service, reps must practice their communication skills and be able to anticipate and analyze different types of customer interactions. Even the most experienced reps can use these lessons to sharpen their skill set while simultaneously passing down tricks to newer teammates.
Companies looking to provide reps with customer service training or reps looking to enhance their skill set on their own time can easily find options to do so and, in this post, we’ve also compiled a list of the most effective training certifications and programs that will take your career to the next level.
Why is customer service training important?
Customer service training is essential because it helps your business retain and satisfy what keeps your business running — your customers. If support reps couldn’t communicate with customers, answer questions, find solutions, and be there for general support, customers would go to a business that met their needs and expectations.
When applying for customer service jobs, a great way to demonstrate your expertise in customer service and solving for the customer is with a customer service certification.
Why do you need a customer service certification?
A customer service certification gives employers confidence that whoever they hire has a higher-than-average ability to do the job. And a certificate from a reputable organization demonstrates competency in customer service that a non-certified rep wouldn’t be expected to deliver.
Certifications aren’t a one-time commitment as they usually require ongoing training to stay up to date with the latest best practices and trends, and consistent training shows teammates and leaders that you’re committed to your work and improving on your abilities.
Aside from the professional competence associated with certifications, many employers and hiring managers also place a monetary value on them. 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 seem similar, but each comes with must-have qualifications for different customer service positions. Depending on your focus, aim to find a certification that matches your areas of interest or where you’re looking to advance your skill set.
1. Customer Service Certification
Whether you’re new to customer service or an experienced rep, a customer service certification offers a real world environment to hone your skills. Many certifications are offered online or in-person with instructor-led classes 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.
Earn your support services certification from:
2. Help Desk Certification
When choosing a help desk certification, prioritize options offered by your help desk software provider. It’s a tactical certification with immediate return on investment as you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned fairly quickly and spread that knowledge among your team.
Once you’ve mastered your help desk software, you can take advanced courses like HDI-CSR which explains the strategy behind using customer service tools to enhance soft skills in communication.
Earn your help desk certification from:
3. Call Center Certification
Many customer service professionals begin their careers working in call centers, and a call center certification validates the technical, communication, and service skills of reps working with inbound and outbound calls.
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.
Earn your call center certification from:
4. Client Services Certification
The client service specialist certification (CCSS) is ideal for entry-level professionals as it provides a foundational understanding of the customer service industry. To earn this certification, you’ll need to demonstrate the right blend of knowledge and skills in both customer service and sales functions, and it will mold you into a well-rounded and key player on your team.
Earn your client services certification from:
5. Client Service Manager Certification
The client service manager certification is offered from a leadership point of view. If you’re 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:
6. Customer Experience Certification
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.
Earn your customer experience certification from:
7. Customer Service Leadership Certification
A customer service manager certification is worthwhile for any service rep working towards senior leadership positions. In these certifications, you’ll learn strategy, technical skills, and practical ways to apply your knowledge of customer service. You can use this type of certification 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
- HubSpot Academy
- 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.
This list features a diverse group of options that are helpful for any customer service team.
1. HubSpot Academy
HubSpot Academy offers courses that provide useful customer service lessons, like the Inbound Certification course that features recent updates to the Inbound Methodology.
Other courses include the "Customer Success & Account Health Check" course that covers the steps to nurturing and delighting customers over time, or There's also a "Managing Your Sales to Customer Success Handoff" course that helps Sales and Customer Success teams work better together.
HubSpot Academy also offers training specific to HubSpot's users. For example, its "Service Hub" course explains how to use Service Hub tools throughout the reps daily workflow, like setting up a knowledge base and connecting your support inbox to the conversations tool.
2. Customer Service Training by Alison
Alison’s customer service training program is for all stages of customer service careers. It introduces the basic concepts of customer service through an online course, and the goal is to teach reps how to handle difficult customer interactions while understanding why they occur in the first place.
The course also dives into creating a customer-focused approach, handling inquiries and complaints, and reading stressful situations to determine the best outcome. The skills and fundamentals obtained from this training program are essential for delivering consistent customer satisfaction.
3. Support Professional Training by Service Strategies
Service Strategies helps technical support reps provide high-quality customer service by training effective communication techniques when providing technical solutions. Sometimes technical concepts can be challenging to explain and understand, so it’s important to know how to communicate these solutions clearly.
Service Strategies offers three ways to attend 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 from businesses in retail, food service, and hospitality industries, and using these recordings as a visual aide 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, you have the option to purchase a certificate that confirms their course completion status.
5. Call Center Customer Service by Universal Class
Universal Class offers a notable course called "Call Center Customer Service" that covers the different responsibilities of a customer service rep, 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 for six months and concludes with a cumulative final exam.
6. Customer Service Advantage by Bonfire Training
Bonfire offers team training that "uniquely personalizes[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 with the goal of motivating reps to find effective solutions instead of offering apologetic explanations.
Bonfire’s courses are consistently updated and can get attention in-person, 90-minute real-time virtual training sessions with an instructor, or an online course with unlimited access over a 60-day period.
7. Customer Service Refresher Training by Business Training Works
The "Customer Service Refresher Training" by Business Training Works aims to re-energize depleted customer service and support workers by explaining how customer service is changing over time, as well as discussing evolving customer expectations.
The training program is a three-hour session on-site at a business or in a virtual classroom, and the topics covered range from best practices for routine interactions to problem-solving.
8. Communication by SkillPath
SkillPath's Communication courses provide valuable lessons about communication skills that are imperative to customer service, with courses for things like active listening, negotiation, and technical writing. It also covers essential business skills such as professional presentation and "developing a professional presence."
Learning about these skills is great for employees who may lack professional experience, and courses are offered both online and on-site at varying prices and duration.
9. A+ Customer Care by WorkLifeBalance
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.
11. Free Customer Service Training by LiveChat
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.
12. CSM Certification Program by The Success League
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.
13. Attitudes for Service by Dale Carnegie
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.