Success Center

Find tips and best practices for making awesome service your secret ingredient.

7 customer service principles that can change your business

Welcome to the era of the customer. In today’s world it’s all about creating awesome experiences. If you want to be successful, you need to throw out the old way of thinking of customer service as a cost center and start thinking about customer service as an opportunity center.

After all, after a positive customer service experience, 69% of Americans would recommend that company to others. Here are seven principles for awesome customer service that can help you deliver the best experiences, every time.

1. Support customers as a team.

These days, customer service is a team sport. And not just for your support team — for your entire business. You need to train everyone at the company on your customer support tool so they can answer questions and they can all pitch in when times are busy. Sure, you’ll want to pass highly technical cases to the experts, but everyone needs to be able to help out. And, successful startups can tell you that when everyone spends time on the frontlines it’s easier to stay aligned around customers, and maintain service levels when things get busy.

2. Listen to customers (and share their ideas).

What information do you need to answer people's questions? Encourage your team to never hesitate to ask questions when talking to customers. The more they know about your customers and their needs, the more of an asset they are to both your company and your customers. What’s more, your customer support team can be one of your best sources of feedback, and a key driver of product innovation. Some successful startups have the customer support team present their latest findings at every company meeting.

3. Be a real person (not a robot).

Robots are cool but people would rarely choose to have a conversation with them. And when 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent, [Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report] you need to show them that you aren't a machine! Encourage agents to add some personality to their emails. Or to fill the quiet time when they need to pull up account information by asking customers how the weather is, whether they have any vacation plans, or who their favorite football team is. Basically anything that shows a friendly, more personal face to the customer.

4. Be honest about what you don’t know.

Nobody likes a know-it-all, and especially a know-it-all that doesn’t really know it all. This is especially true for customer service agents. If your agents aren't sure whether a problem is actually a bug or how to troubleshoot it, it's okay for them to let the customer know that they’ll get in touch with the right person to investigate and circle back when they have an answer. When you maintain an open dialogue with your customers and keep them informed at all times, you'll earn your customer's commitment to your company.

5. Be empathetic.

You might think empathy is just a touchie-feelie hippie notion, but it’s also smart business. In today’s technology-driven, often impersonal world, empathy can be your competitive advantage. When you have an empathetic culture, employees have a better understanding of market needs. Tell agents to put themselves in the shoes of the customer when they are working on a case. Their empathy will show, and customers will appreciate it. Remember, according to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

6. Know your product.

The more your agents know, the more of an asset they are to your customers and to your company. Make training a key part of your culture. Some companies onboard every new employee — not just their customer service agents — with a one week product bootcamp to ensure they know their products inside and out. Remember, according to American Express, customers are two times more likely to talk about a bad experience to their friends than they are to talk about a good one!

7. Remember every second counts.

Customers hate to wait! Be sure to give your agents the help desk solution they need to help customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Reducing the time it takes to assist a customer also directly reduces the time that other customers must wait. At the same time, make sure that agents are not solely measured on call times. Be sure to motivate them to solve issues and make sure that customers are truly satisfied customers.

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