Good Customer Service Guide: Everything You Should Know in 2021 & Beyond

Guide on Good Customer Service

We all know that customer expectations are high. Guess what is higher? Instances of poor customer service. 

Customer service horror stories are spreading like wildfire. It’s a common sight to see your friends complaining about how they had to wait for more than 5 minutes on hold, how they encountered an impolite agent, or how a business would just not accept their return request. 

Amidst all this chaos, there is still hope left. There are businesses that are going out of their way to help customers. For example, who can forget that famous Zappos customer service call that lasted for 10 hours and 51 minutes? 

Good customer service is not dead but it sure has become rare. Sooner or later, you will realize that even the slightest of investment in customer service can lead to exponential ROI in the form of repeat purchases, word-of-mouth marketing, positive brand reputation, and more. 

In this customer service guide, we will understand the definition of great customer service and its many benefits, explore its different types, and look at brands that are winning the customer service game. 

Let’s get started! 

What Is Good Customer Service? 

Good customer service is all about quickly assisting customers with their queries, helping them make better purchase decisions, ensuring a smooth transition from one touchpoint to the other, and building long-term customer relationships. 

Moreover, thanking your customers from time to time and offering reliable self-service options can go a long way too. A delighted customer will return often, is more likely to spend more, and can bring more customers for your business. 

Taking your customer service from average to awesome is not as hard as you might think. Here are the 5 elements of good customer service that you can adopt today: 

  • Understand your customer expectations about “good customer service”
  • Build a customer-first culture across the organization
  • Capture and learn from both positive and negative customer feedback
  • Apologize and take ownership of your mistakes
  • Continuously invest in technology to improve the speed and quality of your service

Why Is Customer Service So Important? 

Customer expectations are high today, and that isn’t news anymore. As per a Microsoft study, 54% of customers have higher expectations from customer service today than they did just a year ago. 

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This means that businesses need to gear up to match the rising expectations or it will be too late. The importance of customer service is clear and visible for the growth of any organization. 

Most customer relations today begin when a customer interacts with a customer service agent. Moreover, how well customers are assisted and cared for, decides how much longer they will engage with the brand. So, taking your customer service to the next level should be your top priority. 

Read More: 30 Customer Service Tips for Delightful Customer Experiences

What Are the Benefits of Good Customer Service?

It is clear as day that customer service can make or break a brand. It’s time to move ahead in this customer service guide and explore the top benefits of good customer service. 

1. Bolster Customer Loyalty

One of the key benefits of good customer service is that customers will hardly leave your brand and stay loyal to you for a long period of time. 

According to a Microsoft study, 96% of consumers around the world say that customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand.

When your business fails to meet customer expectations and offers poor customer service, you can hamper the customer experience. This could be keeping customers waiting on the phone for several minutes, delivering an incorrect product, long service downtime, etc. 

On the other hand, when customers are happy with your service, they will end up purchasing more and will not shift to competitors. This can prove to be profitable for your company as customer retention is far cheaper than customer acquisition.

2. Enjoy the Magic of “Word of Mouth” Recommendations

Remember the time you had an amazing experience with a brand and instantly felt like sharing the same with a thousand other people? Yes, that is positive word-of-mouth marketing for you. 

According to Semrush, 88% of customers had the highest level of trust in a brand when a friend or family member recommended it. 

In today’s digital age, if you deliver exceptional customer service, word-of-mouth recommendations can spread like wildfire. In fact, you can reach more customers and grow your business at almost zero marketing costs. For instance, we all know how brands such as Disney, Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, etc. have built a name for themselves with the help of their exceptional customer service. 

3. Get More Upsell & Cross-sell Opportunities

When you build strong relationships with customers at every touchpoint, you get the opportunity to sell more products and services to them. Even customers look forward to your business for new offers, sales events, discounts, etc. 

According to a study by Gartner, when it comes to making a purchase, 64% of customers find customer experience more important than price.

Let’s understand this better with the help of an example. Imagine a customer goes to your website and needs assistance with buying a product. Your live chat agent interacts with the customers and offers much-needed guidance. This situation allows the agent to suggest items that have a higher price value than the item the customer was looking to buy initially. Such daily upselling opportunities can help you increase your sales manifolds. 

4. Keep Your Support Staff Engaged & Motivated 

What constitutes good customer service? Well, of course, the hard work and skills of your customer service professionals who interact day in and day out with customers. 

As per a Gallup study called “The State of the American Workplace”, employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, with a resulting 20% increase in sales.

When employees see that your brand is customer-focussed, they know what expectations they need to meet – leading to increased productivity and engagement. Similarly, engaged, friendly, and skilled employees lead to better interactions and happier customers. And the cycle goes on! 

In fact, when you offer great customer service, your staff has to deal with less number of agitated or complaining customers. 

5. Take Your Brand’s Reputation to the Next Level

The idea of good customer service when turned into reality can help you improve your brand’s reputation. Being known in the market for outstanding customer service will help you stand out in comparison to companies with less than favorable customer service.

American customers are willing to pay 17% more to purchase from a company with a reputation for great service.

Whenever potential customers are looking for products or services similar to what you sell, your brand will always be on the top of their minds. 

But what about poor customer service? A single instance of bad customer service can spoil your brand’s reputation. Therefore, it is important to collect customer feedback from time to time and implement their suggestions for a wholesome experience. 

Read More: 20 Best Customer Service Software Solutions

How Many Types of Customer Service Are There? 

Over the years, customer service has evolved and is not limited to a single channel anymore. Today, customers have the option to seek support via chat, email, self-service portal, social media, and other channels. Let’s discuss the five most effective types of customer service:

1. Phone Customer Service 

The phone is one of the most popular and oldest types of customer service. In fact, according to a recent Statista study, 61% of US respondents prefer phone support for resolving their customer service problems. A direct phone conversation with an agent can help customers explain their problems better, create an emotional connection, and get the assurance that their problem will be resolved at the earliest. 

2. Email Customer Service

The popularity of email is on the rise as a whopping 306.4 billion emails are sent and received each day. One of the best things about using email customer service is that customers can email their problems or queries at any point of the day or night. Depending on how responsive the CS agents are, customers can expect a response within 2-6 hours. Compared to other channels, email helps customers keep the conversation extremely professional. 

3. Live Chat Customer Service

Live chat allows a business to have real-time conversations with both existing customers as well as prospects. Moreover, you can even use AI-powered chatbots to assist customers with their basic issues and generate more leads for the business. Another important aspect of live chat is that your agents can handle multiple chats simultaneously and resolve queries faster. 

4. Social Media Customer Service

Social media customer service is offered on the leading social media platforms over the internet such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, etc. Businesses need to address social media complaints or queries at the earliest as a single negative tweet can hamper your brand’s image in public. Customer service professionals get the opportunity to have witty, fun, and light conversations on such channels. 

5. On-site Customer Service 

On-site is a type of customer service that is offered to customers right at their workplaces or homes. Through on-site support, agents can repair electrical gadgets or equipment, troubleshoot software problems, or educate you about using a product better. One of the great things about on-site customer service is that it is convenient as the customer does not have to leave his home or workplace. 

6. Customer Self-Service 

More and more businesses are embracing customer self-service options and helping customers resolve their primary issues on their own. With the help of a knowledge base, you can share relevant, FAQs, help articles, how-to’s, videos, etc. with your audience. If done right, this can prove to be a cost-effective way to deflect support tickets and reduce your support team’s workload. 

Read More: Choose the Best Customer Support Channels for Your Growing Business

20 Key Customer Service Skills 

While it is not possible to know everything, it is always nice to have relevant customer service skills in the bag for when you need them. Here are the top customer service skills that your representatives need to master: 

1. Empathy: In customer service, empathy refers to the ability to understand a customer’s emotions and the difficulties they might be going through. 

2. Clear-communication skills: Customer service agents should be able to communicate with customers using a language that is clear and easy to understand. 

3. Self-control: Agents should be able to manage their emotions and remain calm even during stressful, frustrating, or anxiety-inducing situations. 

4. Active listening: As the name suggests, active listening refers to being attentive to what is being said rather than passively hearing what a customer says. 

5. Time management: Time management is the process of organizing your time between specific activities. Good time management enables agents to get more done in less time

6. Flexibility: Customer service professionals should be flexible enough to bend the rules or go out of their way to make customers happy. 

7. Efficiency: With customer issues and requests increasing every day, agents should be efficient in the way they operate to assist more customers. 

8. Positive attitude: Staying positive under pressure even during the most challenging situations can have a calming effect and help the customer see the positive side of things. 

9. Decisiveness: Agents should be able to make decisions quickly and confidently to avoid potential problems and reduce their impact on the business. 

10. Creativity: Sometimes, solving customer issues might require a healthy dose of creativity. Creative problem-solving can help your business stand out. 

11. Persuasiveness: Persuasiveness is an important customer service skill that can help you persuade customers to accept a resolution and do what is right for them. 

12. Sense of humor: While, interacting with customers, a little dose of humor can lighten their moods and diffuse a tense situation. However, agents should avoid making fun of the customer at all costs. 

13. Persistence: Persistence refers to the ability to stick with the customer’s problem and share the right solutions until a customer is completely satisfied. 

14. Ownership: Agents should take complete ownership and be accountable for their actions instead of blaming customers or other employees. 

15. Not get easily offended: It is common for customers to lash out their anger or frustration over an agent. The ability not to take offense will go a long way in handling such situations.

16. Teamwork: Although customer service is made up of different roles and responsibilities, agents need to work together as a team to achieve the broader goal – delighted customers. 

17. Product knowledge: Good product knowledge helps customers resolve issues quickly and it also gives the customer confidence in the product and in the company as a whole. 

18. Respect: No matter what happens, disrespecting customers cannot be tolerated. Employees should follow basic manners and treat every customer with the utmost respect. 

19. Professionalism: Customer service employees should remain professional at all times while interacting with customers. They should refrain from asking personal or sensitive questions to customers. 

20: Aptitude for learning: Customer service is an ever-evolving industry and employees should be eager to learn about the latest trends, tools, and happenings. 

Good Customer Service Examples 

There are brands that practice good customer service in theory and then there are those that apply it to the real world. Here are three global brands that are known for their amazing customer service: 

1. Tesla Is Taking Proactive Steps for a Better, Faster Future

Tesla owners don’t just own a car, they have invested in a company that is revolutionizing the EV industry. No wonder Tesla has the most loyal customers of car companies. But despite its innovative concept, what has led to the success of this brand? 

The answer is simple – For Tesla, the customer experience does not end after a customer has purchased from them. The brand wants to be known for its smooth after-sales service and experience. To achieve the same, Tesla has built a large network of recharging stations across the US and Europe to make it easy for drivers to charge their vehicles on the go. 

2. Amazon Is Truly Customer-Focussed

The e-commerce giant Amazon has been one of the top customer service leaders for decades. No wonder every business school has an Amazon case study in it. In fact, in an interview CEO Jeff Bezos said, “The number one thing that has made us successful by far is our obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer.”

Amazon is known for its brilliant omnichannel support, where customers can contact the company via email, chat, phone, help center, etc., and get reliable support. Moreover, Amazon is empowering its customers by using data to personalize the shopping experience based on browsing and buying history. This had led to a frictionless buying process and reduced ticket volume. 

3. Zappos Does the “Unimaginable” for Customers 

Imagine you bought an item online and had the option to return it within 365 days of the purchase. Would you not absolutely love the company? Well, Zappos offers the same 365-day return window and other benefits such as free shipping on all orders. 

Zappos employees are always ready to go the extra mile for customers. In fact, their record customer service call lasted for 10 hours and 51 minutes. In addition to this, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh believes that rather than investing profits in advertising, the company is always investing in customer service and would never outsource its CS operations to another company. 

Good Customer Service < Great Customer Service

You may have read about plenty of great customer experience stories and probably have gone through a few of them yourself. In spite of these great examples, the best way to ensure you offer quality customer service is by answering a pretty simple question.

Would you like to receive this kind of service yourself?

Answering this can be challenging, and you will have to set yourself a ton of homework to get the equation just right. Keep going back to the basics, let the ideas flow in, and keep reviewing your strategies and objectives.

All the details mentioned in this customer service guide will put your business in a better position to meet customer expectations and deliver delightful experiences. 

Don’t just chase “good”, strive for great customer service! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q. What does customer service mean?

Customer service means going above and beyond what is expected to keep the customers happy. It can be in the form of guiding a customer to make a better purchase decision or offering technical assistance to restore a faulty product. Delightful customer service can lead to loyal customers, repeat purchases, and increased sales. 

Q. What if someone on your team lacks customer service skills?

Customer service skills such as empathy, active listening, patience, decisiveness, creativity, etc. can be learned with time. While hiring for your customer service department, you must ensure that the potential candidates have the required skills. However, with the help of proper and consistent training, you can fill any evident skill gaps among your agents. 

Q. What are some important goals of good customer service?

Customer service goals and objectives can differ from one business to another. However, there are certain goals that you can set to take your customer service to the next level. Here are some top customer service goals examples: 

  • Reduce customer wait times
  • Publish quality self-help content
  • Improve agent happiness and job satisfaction
  • Resolve maximum issues at the first contact 
  • Capture customer feedback and implement their suggestions

Q. What are reasonable customer service expectations?

Reasonable customer service expectations are those that can be met by a business. In short, such expectations are realistic and not impossible to attain. For example, if a customer expects to get an email response to his complaint within 2 hours, that is a reasonable expectation. On the other hand, if a customer requests a 100% discount coupon then that might not be possible for your business to meet. 

Q. What is the difference between customer service & technical support?

Customer service and technical support are functions within the same organization but serve different goals and purposes. The focal point of customer service is the overall experience of the client. On the other hand, technical support concentrates on finding solutions to technical issues or problems being faced by the customer quickly and efficiently.

Q. How to reduce customer service costs?

Your business cannot infinitely keep spending on customer service. Here are some ways by which you can minimize your customer service expenditures:

  • Constitute your customer service team with people who have the right mindset, appropriate knowledge, and are well-trained. 
  • Build a comprehensive self-service platform that encourages users to look for solutions to easy and simple concerns. 
  • Provide assistance in real-time through live chat or social media channels to decrease the burden on phone agents resolving more complex issues. 

Q. How help desk software boosts customer service?

A help desk system offers the right platform to receive, process, and respond to customer requests or issues across multiple channels or touchpoints. Help desk managers can monitor agent performance and key customer service metrics such as customer satisfaction, average response times, ticket volume, etc. 

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About the author

Jared is a customer support expert. He has been published in CrazyEgg, Foundr, and CXL. As a customer support executive at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in developing a complete customer support system that more than doubled customer satisfaction. You can connect and engage with Jared on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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