We’ve all heard the old adage proclaiming “the customer is always right.” But if that’s all there is to a good customer service experience, why doesn’t every interaction end with a smile?
The truth is that customer service has several layers. While many businesses tend to stick with the outer ones, customer service experts know that digging in a little more provides the best return. Studies show that 65% of U.S. customers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.
Let’s take a step back and ask the basic question: what is customer service? There is no shortage of opinions and advice on the subject; the issue is making sense of it all.
We tracked down ten tidbits of advice from customer service experts to help you improve your approach to how you interact with and provide for your customers. But first, learn why better customer service is an important goal to achieve.
Why is good customer service important?
Today’s business environment is highly competitive. The best way to stand out is to create a positive experience for new customers—every single time. Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, having a team of customer service representatives who understand the importance of the consumer experience is vital to your overall success.
Retaining current customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones. Great customer service tends to improve productivity and boosts your brand reputation. Put simply, your company’s customer service skills are what’s driving (or holding back) its growth and longevity.
If you’re not listening to customer feedback and striving to exceed customer expectations, you’re simply another provider amidst the chaos. But when you have a stellar team that understands the value of customer service, you can expect to thrive and grow.
Ten customer care tips from the pros
When it comes to creating excellent customer service experiences, asking experienced professionals is the best place to start. See what those who have enjoyed success because of their effective customer service beliefs and practices have to say about today’s customers and their expectations.
1. “Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
– Damon Richards, customer care expert.
Imagine being under the care of a doctor who aced every exam but is more interested in your medical case than your actual health. What would your experience be with a teacher who was burnt out and less than enthusiastic about shaping minds? While you should be knowledgeable about your industry and service or product, it’s how you care for customers that will impress them.
Takeaway: Set up policies that make it easy for customer support representatives to go above and beyond the call of duty. For example, shoe retailer Zappos creates an environment where customer support teams feel empowered to stay on the phone with customers as long as it takes to resolve issues.
2. “Great customer service is when you do for the customer everything you can do after you have done what you are supposed to do.”
– Daymond John, American businessman, investor, TV personality, and author.
There’s no universal stopping point for customer interactions. Some clients will need more guidance and assistance than others. Being able to know when to keep going, even after the sale or transaction is complete, is the difference between expected and exceptional customer service.
Takeaway: Provide customers with several options for interacting with your brand. Digital customer service technology that integrates with popular social and messaging platforms gives enables customers to get their needs met on their schedule and at their pace.
3. “Be genuine. Be remarkable. Be worth connecting with.”
– Seth Godin, author, Permission Marketing, This is Marketing, and more.
It’s easy to spot when someone is not being authentic, especially when it comes to customer service. To be remarkable is to be worthy of attention. Encourage transparency in your teams, and a willingness to connect to create genuine and remarkable customer service experiences.
Takeaway: Create a customer-centric company culture. Prioritize this when hiring, and focus incentives around great customer outcomes. These could be centered on common customer service metrics, like customer satisfaction, average response times, and resolution rates.
4. “To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”
– Douglas Adams, author.
Customer service begins with a sincere motivation to improve lives. When you’ve been on the receiving end of angry vents from less-than-satisfied customers, it can be difficult to feel passion for customer service. Just recognizing that it’s missing from your approach is the first step to igniting it again.
Takeaway: Take advantage of customer service training programs that demonstrate how to manage strong negative emotions without compromising self-worth and joy.
5. “The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.”
– Sam Walton, businessman and founder of Walmart and Sam's Club.
Strive to be the best, and don’t stop pushing the boundaries of what that means. When it comes to customer service, creating an experience that’s unforgettable (for good reasons) is the goal. Look at every aspect of your process, including company transparency, availability, and follow up procedures to make sure you’re doing all you can to create an exceptional experience.
Takeaway: For inspiration, look at what your competition is doing. If they provide unique customer service amenities, consider adopting them. Then brainstorm for unique enhancements you can make to the client experience that are ground-breaking for your market and industry.
6. “It takes months to find a customer…seconds to lose one.”
– Vince Lombardi, former American football player, coach, and National Football League Executive.
You can do the right thing a hundred times. Unfortunately, doing the wrong thing just once can have disastrous consequences. Good customer service is never taking any customer for granted. No matter the depth or length of your professional relationship, it can be over in a matter of seconds.
Takeaway: Connect with your customers, past and present, on a routine basis. Send out personalized emails or birthday cards with a discount code. Find ways to nurture customer relationships throughout the entire year.
7. “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”
– Donald Porter, former V.P. at British Airways.
Providing excellent customer service is continuous pressure, that’s for sure. But don’t let the pressure get the best of you. While you’re focused on being perfect, your customers are waiting for you to solve problems. Do your best and answer the call when things don’t go to plan.
Takeaway: It can often be difficult to maintain composure before unsatisfied customers, especially when you can’t immediately solve their problems. Digital customer service tools like live chat provide teams the space to address concerns in a composed manner while connecting with customers in real time.
8. “Whether it’s a bored demeanor, a dismissive look, or just plain rude behavior, sloppy customer service spells disaster faster than just about any other business transgression.”
– Lauren Simonds, managing editor of Small Business Computing.
Every business makes mistakes. But mistakes related to customer service tend to sting the most. Customers take every aspect of their experience to heart. Think beyond your product or service when envisioning great customer service.
Takeaway: Take every mistake as an opportunity to learn and prevent similar errors in the future. Put ego aside, admit any wrongdoing, and focus on customer recovery.
9. “Nobody raves about average.”
– Bill Quiseng, award-winning speaker, blogger, and writer in the areas of customer service.
Average is expected and forgettable. Even if you’re ticking off all the boxes on your customer service checklist, you might not be doing enough to create an experience that blows customers out of the water...yet. You don’t have to reinvent customer service, but rather find ways to dress up each step of the process.
Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to get creative. Hold a surprise VIP sale or come up with a fun online contest that boosts engagement and organic reach.
10. “Customer service is everything and anything that touches a customer—directly or indirectly.”
“Customer service means servicing customers and it’s so much more than just solving problems or addressing complaints. Customer service is part of a holistic customer experience that is capable of providing a critical competitive advantage in today’s increasingly cluttered and commoditized marketplace.”
– Joseph Jaffe, author and entrepreneur.
If your customer service tactics aren’t producing results, it’s time to revisit everything you’ve based your approach on. Customer service isn’t a department in the back of a store or an option for callers on a company’s main phone menu. It’s much more important than most business owners realize, which is why so many fail at properly approaching and executing customer service approaches that put them above the competition.
Takeaway: Customer service is continuously changing. Evolve with it by continuously monitoring feedback and adjusting your approach as needed. Creating an exceptional customer experience is an ongoing yet rewarding responsibility.
Committing to customer satisfaction
Great customer service requires passion and commitment. Remember, it is unique to every business, employee, and customer. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating loyal customers and improving customer relationships.
Don’t let the weight of creating the best customer service experience paralyze your efforts. One positive step at a time will add up to an award-winning customer service experience in the end.