I look forward to my morning coffee, it starts my day off right.

But not one recent morning. It left a bad taste in my mouth, figuratively at least.

While placing my order I was made to feel like a non-person. The girl at the counter just stared at me – didn’t say hello, didn’t ask what I wanted, didn’t ask to help me – just stared. I placed my order, with the fewest number of words I could.

To say I was underwhelmed by her communication and customer service skills would be an understatement. I considered asking to speak with her manager but was in a rush and there was a big lineup behind me so I didn’t press the issue. But, as you can see, I made note of it, and her lack of training.

I’m not alone in recognizing that soft skills are important, not just for coffee shop employees, but for everyone. But I’m also not alone in recognizing that where we are in soft skills training, and where we need to be, is a gulf that must be bridged. This article says that 44 percent of senior executives in the U.S. cite soft skills as the area with biggest gap.

As trainers, managers, business owners, it’s incumbent upon us to ensure our employees are educated in the soft skills they need. In the end, taking that time and money for training pays off for our businesses. Employees who have training in soft skills are good employees when it comes to putting those skills into everyday use.

It doesn’t matter your industry or business, some skills are just as important across the realms of work from one to the other.

For example, you need to know how to communicate, whether it’s customer service, small talk with a waiting client, writing an email, or how to receive an order on the phone.

The Velsoft training staff suggests these tips to help develop strong communication skills in your employees, trainees, or co-workers.

  • Speak to people: There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
  • Smile at people: It takes 72 muscles to frown, but only 14 to smile.
  • Call people by name: The sweetest music to anyone’s ears is the sound of their own name used properly and positively.
  • Be friendly and helpful: To make a friend, you have to be a friend.
  • Be cordial: Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine pleasure.
  • Be genuinely interested in people: You can find things to like in almost anybody if you try.
  • Be generous with praise, cautious with criticism.
  • Be considerate with the feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a controversy: yours, the other person’s, and the truth.
  • Be alert to give service: What counts most in life is what we do for others.
  • Practice your positive sense of humor: The kind that is about telling funny stories about yourself, not other people.

And while we’re on the topic of communication skills, how about conveying these customer service tips to anyone who needs them. Communication skills and customer service are flip sides of the same coin.

  • If the phone is ringing, make sure someone answers it. If no one is available, then a voice prompt will suffice (provided that it is working properly). People appreciate talking to people when they call to get service.
  • When a customer enters your premises, greet them as though you are happy to see them. Don’t leave someone standing awkwardly.
  • Be present for your customer. Your body language and tone of voice, whether you are on the phone or in person, need to let your customer know that you want to be there and you are pleased to serve them.
  • Be polite. There is no excuse for bad manners. Your customer will not forget rudeness, even when they are being difficult.
  • Pay attention to the details. If you promise something, make sure you deliver. Wow them by being on time and remembering all of the required pieces.
  • Always thank your guest. There is a lot of competition out there, so your goal is to retain your customer, not send them on. Even if you are providing a service they cannot get somewhere else (like a government department issuing a driver’s license), be thankful for their attention and business.

I encourage you to share these tips with whoever you feel needs to improve their communication skills. It will make that early morning coffee taste that much better.