Back to blog

Learn with Threecolts

Small group workshops to help you learn, optimize, and grow.

Learn About Coaching

Want to develop excellent customer service? Here are some best practices.

Threecolts
Geri Mileva
Published
June 2, 2023
Modified
June 2, 2023
best practices to developing excellent customer service

We’ve all heard that the customer is always right. Whether or not you believe that’s true, the success of your business will absolutely depend on you doing everything in your power to make sure they feel like it. 

Customers are the lifeblood of your business, the more you have, and the more regularly they buy from you, the better off you’ll be. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking there’s such a thing as a “small” customer - their value is measured across their life, not any single transaction. That means that any single interaction they have with you, even if it’s for a relatively small purchase, can actually cost your business far more than that. 

Nor is it limited to just them. Remember that the best possible marketing any business can have is word of mouth. Nothing will bring more people to you than real consumer testimonials, and nothing will keep them away from you as effectively as customers that are not happy. 

This is why customer service, or as some companies have taken to calling it, customer obsession, is so important. In markets that are becoming increasingly saturated, where very small margins determine whether people come to you or your competitor, customer service becomes one of the most important ways you can compete and differentiate yourself. 

Customers tend to be willing to pay more to shop with companies they know have good customer service, and they’re also more likely to return for a repeat purchase if they had a good experience the first time. Even if something goes wrong with the purchase if the company responds in a quick, positive, and helpful way, the customer is far more likely to shop there again. 

Calming an Angry customer with great customer service

A customer kept is worth far more than a customer gained. Acquiring new customers will cost your business between 5 and 25 times more than simply retaining the ones you already have, according to HubSpot research. In some sectors, an increase in customer retention as small as 5% can lead to a 25% increase in profit, because customers that return to you are likely to buy more over time

The bottom line is, good customer service will help you keep your customers, attract new ones, and extract more value from them. This is especially true after the pandemic when more than half of retail consumers said their expectations of interactions with brands were higher than before the pandemic, and 68% said that a single bad customer service experience would reduce their loyalty to a brand, according to Talkdesk. 

BEST PRACTICES

Be organized 

The first thing is to make sure your team is organized and well-tooled. The logistics of smooth customer service can be tricky - the entire team needs to ensure every ticket is seen to, with as few overlaps or cases falling through the cracks as possible. This means sharing inboxes, cataloging FAQs to formulate common replies to common problems, and generally implementing collaborative processes across the team. Part of staying organized is staying up to date - never underestimate the value of regularly keeping customer service staff up to speed on the latest development of your product line, customers will always want someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Don’t make them wait

Don’t ever let a customer stew in their negative feelings. Nothing will make an already inconvenienced customer even more upset than a company taking a long time to respond to their complaint. More time just means more chances for them to get angrier and more likely to talk about their negative experience. Respect their time, especially if the issue is a simple one that can be solved quickly. This doesn’t mean making them go away as quickly as possible - make sure you keep them engaged until the issue is completely solved, and don’t make them have to reach out to you twice for something that can be solved in a single interaction.

Be calm, patient, and positive

The customer may be a bit annoyed at their situation, it may not be your fault but they may take it out on you - as long as it’s not abusive, maintain a calm and positive attitude. Don’t make them feel as if they’re being an inconvenience to you. Unless you’re face-to-face or, for whatever reason, on a video call, remember that the tone with which you speak will be the main indicator of your attitude. You can’t smile, nod, or gesture to display your understanding, so your voice - or your written tone - has to do the heavy lifting. 

Don’t rush them off to close out the ticket, take your time with them, actively listen, understand their problem, and deal with it the way you’d want someone to deal with you. This can sometimes mean pretending to be cheerier than you are, especially if the customer is annoyed or rude - you’re human, too, and it’s normal to feel annoyed yourself - but remember that a customer is an economic unit that is incredibly valuable to the business. 

Facilitate autonomy

Teach a man to fish... so on and so forth. People would much rather fix something themselves if the alternative is having to talk to a company representative. Give them an easy way to do that. Tools like Onsite’s Amazon PLS support are a good example of how to do this - providing a landing page where customers can go and find out anything they need to about their product, complete with guides, tutorials, and other resources. 

Think outside the box

Want to turn a potentially harmful experience into a positive one that they’ll be sure to share? Give them something they weren’t expecting. Sometimes you need to ignore the normal flowchart and go above and beyond. This is how you gain lifelong customers. 

Manage expectations

Much of the time, what upsets people is not so much the situation itself, but the difference between the situation and their prior expectations. Make sure you’re clear with the customer about what kind of solution they can expect for their issue and when they can expect it to be resolved. Don’t promise to fix something in a half hour if it might take you an hour, and always specify - if you do not lay it out clearly for them, their expectations will be high. 

Measure, analyze, and optimize

How a customer feels after an interaction with your business may be subjective, but much of the process is measurable. 

How fast are you getting back to them? What is your team’s average response and resolution time? How many tickets are you getting through for a certain period? How many of those tickets are you able to close successfully? 

These are all things that can and should be measured at regular intervals, compared against goals and KPIs, and adjusted where need be. Customer service is not a static enterprise, but an ever-evolving system that responds to ever-changing needs.

Be consistent

This is the real secret sauce to the whole thing. There’s no point doing all the other things right unless you keep doing them right, you need to be consistent and reliable. The flip side of giving customers a positive first impression of you is that they will expect you to be just as good the next time, across any communications channel they reach out on. The success of your business depends on not just getting, but staying, in their good graces. 

Ultimately, your customers will always be the most effective possible marketing device your company will ever have. Whether they are effective at telling others to come to you or to stay away will depend on how well you take care of them, so never forget to. 

Learn with Threecolts

Small group workshops to help you learn, optimize, and grow.