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Soft skills training: The fuel for excellent customer service

Soft skills training: The fuel for excellent customer service

Executive Summary: Every interaction counts in the world of automotive customer service. Here, technical expertise meets human interaction. That’s why the true horsepower lies in the mastery of soft skills. Emphasizing their crucial role in creating exceptional customer experiences and brand loyalty, this article sheds light on the importance of soft skills and their training. Furthermore, it addresses the difficulties related to soft skills training, and introduces microlearning as a potential solution to overcome these challenges.

Customer service in the automotive industry is the fuel that keeps the wheels turning smoothly. It’s an intricate balance between the technical and the personal. From the moment a customer walks into a dealership, they embark on a journey of trust and reliability. Service advisors guide customers through the intricate maze of car models, maintenance, upgrades, and more. They provide clarity by answering questions with expertise and empathy. Behind the scenes, technicians work diligently to resolve technical mysteries. And when the road gets bumpy, customer service rises to the occasion, transforming frustration into satisfaction. In the automotive industry, exceptional customer service propels loyalty and powers unforgettable experiences.

96% of consumers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand (Microsoft, 2017). Effective customer service relies on communication, empathy, and problem-solving. This underscores the crucial role of soft skills training in exceptional customer experiences. Soft skills are the vital gears of customer service. They elevate customer service. Technical expertise alone cannot guarantee a seamless experience. It is the empathetic smile, active listening, and genuine connection that make all the difference. Soft skills like effective communication, patience, and problem-solving allow service advisors to truly understand customer needs. They can then tailor solutions accordingly. These skills foster trust, making customers feel heard and valued. They turn a transaction into a relationship, creating a positive emotional connection. In automotive service, soft skills power customer satisfaction, loyalty, and the ultimate success of a dealership.

Let’s learn more about soft skills training in the automotive industry.

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Soft Skills Training in the Automotive Industry

What are soft skills? How are they important in the automotive industry?

Soft skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that support the pursuit of organizational goals. (Investopedia, 2023)

Soft skills in the automotive industry include many interpersonal abilities. These can significantly enhance customer service. These are:

  • Effective communication: Ensures clear and concise interactions with customers and colleagues.
  • Active listening: Allows service advisors to fully understand customer concerns.
  • Patience and empathy: Enable professionals to handle difficult situations calmly.
  • Problem-solving skills: Aid in resolving complex issues efficiently.
  • Adaptability: Enables employees to navigate changing circumstances.

By demonstrating these soft skills, automotive professionals create a welcoming and customer-centric environment. This builds trust and customer satisfaction.

Impact of soft skills on customer satisfaction and loyalty

Effective communication, empathy, and problem-solving abilities fuel positive interactions. These skills guide service advisors through customer concerns, smoothing out bumps along the way. By forging emotional connections, soft skills transform customers into lifelong passengers on the journey of loyalty. 

Soft skills are crucial in customer service. They directly impact the customer’s experience. Soft skills and interpersonal skills allow customer service representatives to effectively understand the customer’s needs. It also helps them provide apt solutions. When customer-facing employees master soft skills, customers are more likely to feel heard and satisfied. This leads to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations (Retorio, 2023). These essential soft skills contribute to the sustained growth and success of automotive businesses in a highly competitive market.

Improved communication and empathy with customers

Empathy in customer service is crucial. Agents must understand and empathize with customers’ perspectives to effectively address their needs. Maslow’s Theory highlights the human need to feel understood. This shows that understanding and connecting with the customer is vital for business success. Empathy is the foundation of authentic customer connections.

Through empathy, sales agents establish stronger relationships, identify needs, and resolve conflicts. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty. 70% of buying experiences depend on how customers feel treated (McKinsey, 2006). This makes empathy in customer service a pivotal factor in service excellence. 

It is important to note that empathizing doesn’t imply agreement. Rather, it means understanding their perspective. It is a vital quality for support agents, as they engage with diverse customers daily and address issues. All while upholding the company’s image to ensure an exceptional customer experience. (Mande, 2022).

Customer experience is a key differentiator in highly competitive markets. Thus, empowering your organization to deliver personalized interactions is a strategic imperative (Microsoft, 2017). Clear and effective communication is essential for this. It minimizes misunderstandings and frustrations. Empathy allows service professionals to connect on a personal level, showing genuine care and support. Active listening and addressing customer needs create positive experiences. This builds trust, strengthens relationships, and encourages customers to return in the future.

Building trust and rapport through effective soft skills

Trust and rapport are high-octane fuel in the engine of customer loyalty. They propel lasting relationships and power repeat business.

Developing strong rapport is an invaluable strategy for cultivating successful sales interactions. By fostering curiosity and willingness to connect, rapport simplifies sales interactions. It helps sales professionals channel energy towards stronger understanding with customers. Rapport forms the bedrock of effective communication, enabling trust between customers and sales agents. The power of rapport is that it creates subconscious connection. This leaves a lasting impact, making the customer feel truly heard and appreciated (ThinkHuman).

Data shows that professionals who spend more time building rapport perform better (Gong Labs, 2017). By actively listening, demonstrating empathy, and communicating clearly, automotive professionals can establish a foundation of trust with customers. They build rapport by understanding customer needs and addressing concerns promptly and genuinely. These soft skills create a sense of reliability and assurance

Soft skills are essential for success in automotive customer service. This means effective soft skills training is imperative in the industry. However, there can be challenges in soft skills training. Let’s understand these below.

Challenges in Soft Skills Training

  1. Limited time and resources: Soft skills training in the automotive industry faces the challenge of limited time and resources. There are demanding schedules and a need to prioritize technical training. Thus, allocating sufficient time for soft skills training can be challenging. Limited resources, such as budget constraints and a shortage of dedicated training programs, further compound the issue.

  2. Difficulty in measuring effectiveness of soft skills training: Technical skills can be quantitatively evaluated. However, assessing the impact of soft skills training is more subjective. Traditional metrics like sales figures or customer feedback may not fully capture the influence of improved communication or empathy.

  3. Resistance to change: Employees may be resistant to adopting new communication and empathy techniques. They may fear disruptions to their familiar work routines. This resistance can hinder the successful implementation of soft skills training initiatives. It can limit the growth of customer-centric service.

  4. Adapting to diverse customer needs and backgrounds: Customer demographics are becoming increasingly diverse. Thus, service professionals must be able to understand and accommodate varying preferences and cultural nuances. This requires developing cultural awareness, communication flexibility, and genuine willingness to learn.

Microlearning for soft skills training

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is an instructional unit that provides a short engagement in an activity intentionally designed to elicit a specific outcome from the participant.

– Karl Kapp

Microlearning is a method of learning that provides short and concise information in small chunks. It is easy to access, flexible, and convenient for employees. 

With videos, quizzes, and interactive features, it helps with on-the-go learning, reviewing knowledge, and gradually building skills. Microlearning allows for quick and focused learning moments. This makes it an effective way to acquire knowledge in bite-sized portions.

Soft skills training, behavioral change, and microlearning

In the case of soft skills training, the expected outcome must be a change in behavior of employees—not just training completion (eLearning Industry, 2021).

Microlearning has the potential to change behaviors, in­crease knowledge, and hone skills in mere minutes every day. It does this by creating quick, meaningful interactions through games, quiz­zes, flashcards, videos, and text messages. We can push microlearning to employees or, as employees, we can pull microlearning to help ourselves. (Kapp and Defelice, 2019)

Microlearning can act as a catalyst for transformative behavioral changes in employees by focusing on small, achievable steps. By breaking down complex concepts into manageable pieces, it empowers individuals to make incremental progress. These tiny changes accumulate over time, leading to substantial behavioral shifts. Through regular microlearning experiences, employees develop new habits, acquire skills, and adopt more effective behaviors that positively impact their work performance and overall growth, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

However, microlearning is not just a technological solution for L&D. It is a learning strategy, and needs to be implemented as one. Daily quizzes, short videos, games, etc. can all become tools to use microlearning. But just having the learning resources is not enough. Behavioral change requires continuous reinforcement, and learning is a continuous process (eLearning Industry, 2021).

Spaced repetition is ideal for continuous reinforcement. It is often used in microlearning. By systematically reviewing information at increasing intervals, it helps reinforce learning and prevent forgetting. This approach maximizes retention. It ensures that knowledge and skills remain fresh in the minds of employees over an extended period. Spaced repetition promotes long-term mastery and allows ongoing reinforcement. This makes it an effective strategy for sustained learning and continuous improvement.

Benefits of microlearning in soft skills training

  1. Bite-sized content: Bite-sized content plays a vital role in soft skills training. It offers short bursts of knowledge. It breaks complex concepts down into manageable pieces. These are easier to understand and apply. Soft skills training often has too broad a focus to be successful. Microlearning resolves this with its targeted, narrow focus. It teaches specific practices for relevant situations, rather than generalizations (Association for Talent Development). By providing concise and focused content, bite-sized learning facilitates continuous improvement and long-term transformation.


  2. Scenario-based learning: Scenario-based learning in microlearning is highly effective for soft skills training. Through real-life situations, employees can practice and apply soft skills in a realistic context. For example, employees can develop problem-solving skills by making decisions and facing consequences. Role-playing scenarios can use characters and scenarios to promote application-based learning. This can be done through games and quizzes. This immersive approach allows employees to actively engage and build confidence. They can improve their soft skills through practical experience. This leads to enhanced performance in real-world situations.


  3. Accessibility and flexibility: Microlearning is delivered at employees’ desks or on their devices. This enables immediate application of learned skills. This enhances the potential for behavioral change. Employees can quickly integrate new knowledge into their work processes for instant results (LearnLight, 2018). Employees can easily access and engage with the targeted content at their own convenience. This enables them to develop specific soft skills in a flexible and personalized manner. This allows for more effective and efficient training.


  4. Interactive and engaging experiences: Through interactive elements such as quizzes, simulations, and branching scenarios, employees actively participate and apply their knowledge. These components promote engagement and enhance the retention of soft skills. Furthermore, the use of multimedia elements, such as videos and animations, makes the learning experience more dynamic and enjoyable.


  5. Customized learning paths: Microlearning platforms identify areas of improvement for each employee, enabling personalized learning experiences. By focusing on individual needs, employees can internalize new behaviors and skills more effectively. Customized learning paths ensure that employees receive targeted content and resources that specifically address their development areas. This allows for a more tailored and impactful learning journey. The personalized approach enhances engagement, promotes skill retention, and facilitates the successful adoption of new behaviors.

How to use microlearning for soft skills training

Effective communication and active listening

  1. Role-playing scenarios for handling customer inquiries: By simulating real-life interactions, employees can practice their communication skills. They can learn effective strategies for addressing customer needs. Role-playing allows them to experience different scenarios. They can gain confidence and expertise in dealing with diverse customer inquiries. This hands-on approach helps employees develop the skills necessary to provide exceptional customer service. This enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Listening exercises to improve understanding of customer needs: Through targeted exercises, employees can practice active listening. They can develop their ability to empathize with and understand customer requirements. These exercises help employees sharpen their listening skills, and identify customer preferences. They can also learn to respond effectively. By enhancing their understanding of customer needs, employees can deliver personalized and satisfactory solutions.
Active Listening Exercise for Sales Training | Charles Bernard

Conflict resolution and problem-solving

  • Studying real-world problems: By analyzing real-world problems, employees can learn problem-solving techniques and strategies for handling customer grievances. This provides practical examples that highlight the importance of empathy, effective communication, and finding appropriate resolutions. By studying successful resolutions, employees gain insights and skills to navigate challenging customer complaints. This results in improved customer satisfaction and retention.
  • Interactive quizzes to enhance critical thinking skills: Thought-provoking questions, scenarios, and quizzes can encourage employees to analyze information and evaluate options. It can help them make informed decisions. These interactive activities help employees develop their problem-solving and decision-making abilities. They also promote active engagement. By practicing critical thinking, employees can enhance their ability to think creatively, solve complex problems, and make effective decisions in their work.
  • Videos showcasing real-life customer interactions: By watching videos, employees can observe actual customer interactions. They can learn from real-world examples. Videos provide valuable insights into effective communication, problem-solving, and customer service techniques. By witnessing successful customer interactions, employees can gain practical knowledge and skills to handle similar situations with confidence and professionalism. This ultimately improves customer satisfaction, and helps them build positive customer relationships.
Poor vs Great Customer Service
  • Reflection activities to develop empathy towards customers: Through guided reflection, employees can analyze their interactions. They can put themselves in the shoes of the customers. These activities prompt self-awareness. They encourage employees to consider the emotions and perspectives of customers. By reflecting on their experiences, employees can cultivate empathy, better understand customer needs, and adapt their approach accordingly. This will result in more empathetic and customer-centric interactions.

Examples of applied soft skills in automotive sales

  • Active listening: Sarah, an automotive salesperson, attentively listens to Mike, a potential car buyer. She takes note of his preference for fuel efficiency and safety features, allowing her to recommend a hybrid model with advanced safety technology, ultimately building trust and securing the sale.
  • Effective communication: John, an automotive salesperson, confidently communicates the benefits of a luxury SUV to Emily, highlighting its spaciousness, advanced entertainment system, and top-notch safety ratings. His clear and persuasive explanations capture Emily’s interest, leading to a successful sale.
  • Empathy: Lisa, an automotive salesperson, recognizes the excitement and concern in Jake’s eyes as a first-time car buyer. She patiently addresses his questions, explains financing options in simple terms, and offers reassurance, establishing a connection that helps Jake feel confident in his purchase decision.
  • Negotiation skills: Alex, an automotive salesperson, skillfully negotiates with Sarah, a savvy customer seeking a competitive price. By understanding Sarah’s budget constraints and demonstrating the value of a specific model’s features, Alex reaches a mutually beneficial agreement that satisfies Sarah’s needs while protecting the dealership’s interests.
  • Problem solving: Ryan, an automotive salesperson, encounters a customer, Olivia, who needs a car with ample cargo space for her outdoor adventures. Though the desired model is temporarily out of stock, Ryan quickly finds a solution by locating a similar vehicle with a roof rack, ensuring Olivia’s needs are met and securing the sale.

This 2018 survey shows that over 70% of employers demanded soft skills, while only 50% wanted quantitative and technical skills. “This shows that we must not underestimate the power of the people factor in the workforce. Technology and automation will continue to change and replace jobs, but there are skills that cannot be automated, such as the ability to think critically or problem-solve,” said Michael Hansen, CEO of Cengage.

Microlearning is essential for soft skills training in the automotive industry. Its bite-sized format allows employees to learn and apply specific skills relevant to customer service, communication, and problem-solving. With the fast-paced nature of the industry, microlearning enables convenient and accessible training that can be easily integrated into employees’ busy schedules. This approach ensures that automotive professionals acquire and develop the necessary soft skills to provide exceptional customer experiences.

It is important to note that microlearning may not be suitable for certain situations. Cases such as complex conflict resolution or handling sensitive customer complaints require the depth and hands-on experience that on-the- job training provides. Microlearning might not be ideal in these cases. It may not adequately simulate real-time interactions or provide the guidance and feedback required to develop crucial interpersonal skills effectively.RapL is a leading provider of microlearning solutions. 

RapL’s innovative digital training empowers employees to keep learning and growing. Our platform offers a user-friendly experience. It allows employees to gain knowledge, enhance skills, and stay updated on industry trends. With RapL’s digital training solution, automotive companies can create a culture of excellence and improve sales performance. For more information, contact us at

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