8 Best Practices to Improve Your Customer Service
Customer service is not just about addressing concerns. It's about creating positive, lasting memories for customers.
A report showed that 89% of companies that offer "significantly above average" customer service had better financial performance than their competitors.
Not only that, studies also show that retaining customers through excellent service is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
Before we explore our best practices, let's take a closer look at what makes good customer service.
What Makes Good Customer Service?
Understanding what “good” customer service is can be a bit subjective. However, there are some key factors that contribute to creating an exceptional customer experience.
Good customer service is all about being responsive and attentive to your customer's needs. This means actively listening to them and addressing their concerns promptly and effectively.
It's essential to be knowledgeable about your product or service, as this enables you to provide accurate information and advice.
Good customer service involves being friendly and approachable. Your customers are more likely to feel comfortable and satisfied if they feel like they're talking to another human who genuinely cares about their needs.
Focusing on these aspects can help you build stronger customer relationships with your customers and better their experience.
8 Best Practices for Customer Service
Fantastic customer service doesn’t happen overnight. It demands time and effort with a constant goal of improving the different apsects of it.
With the following 8 strategies you'll be able to bring your customer experience to a whole new level.
1. Be Easy to Reach
Offering too many ways for your customers to reach you may become hard to manage. But not providing enough methods for your customers to reach out can be detrimental.
A tool like Missive helps you overcome this hurdle by gathering all customer support requests from different channels (like email, SMS, Messenger, etc.) in one place.
The goal is to make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch—whenever they need to, however, they want to.
2. Increase Your Hours of Availability
If your customer service is not 24/7, there will be times when a customer needs help after hours. It could be a support request or just a customer who wants to know your holiday hours—whatever the case, you want to make sure these requests are addressed promptly.
There are a few different ways to do this.
If your company’s helpdesk receives a high volume of requests around the clock and on weekends, aim to have customer service reps on call 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Another option is to use an automated customer service system, such as a chatbot.
But we’re not the biggest fans of these.
Don’t believe the hype about how awesome chatbots are for customer service.
Customersare ok with self-service when it comes to buying or researching things in your knowledge base, but not when they need support.
If you don’t have support available 24/7 and have live chat, use schedules so your customers know when you’re actually there and when you’re not.
3. Be Human
In an age of automation, integration, and ever-evolving tech, humanity’s getting a little lost in the shuffle. When someone calls customer service, they're often met with an automated response, followed by a representative reading a script.
Instead, give customers a refreshing change of pace.
Encourage your reps to inject some personality into their responses and interactions with customers.
Give them talking points or an outline rather than a full-on template or script. It will encourage them to be more personable.
4. Don’t Overlook the Little Things
Even small details can make a big difference in customer experience. For example, consistency across all touchpoints shows you care about your customers and focus on providing them with a positive experience.
It’s also important to take into account your customer journey when interacting with them.
Other examples of small details that can have a big impact include:
The way representatives greet customers.
How easy it is to find contact information on your website.
The response time
Grammar and clarity of responses
Whether representatives ask follow-up questions that show they’re actively listening, critically thinking about possible solutions, and ready to go the extra mile.
5. Prioritize Clear Communication
Remember, just because something’s crystal clear to you doesn’t mean it is for someone else—whether it’s a coworker or a customer. People communicate differently, and what is standard language to one person might be gibberish to another.
To prioritize clear communication, we recommend the following:
Avoid jargon: technical or industry-specific terms that the customer might not understand.
Structure the conversations: a greeting, issue diagnosis, and a resolution.
Share communication best practices: guidelines on tone (in both verbal and written communication) and grammar
Use visual materials: screenshots, diagrams, or videos to explain complex issues.
6. Constantly Improve Customer Experience
Customer service is way different now than it was a decade ago, let alone 50 years ago. Want to see what good vs bad customer service looks like?
Bad: Criticism of Comcast (a company that had such a poor customer service experience it warranted having its own Wikipedia page)
Customer satisfaction never ends. Constantly seek to find new things to fix and improve to exceed your customer’s expectations.
Want to know the easiest way to figure out what your customer needs? It’s simple. Be proactive and just ask them. 🤯
7. Reduce Fragmentation
Fragmentation caused by a general lack of organization is usually one of the root causes of poor customer service.
Interdepartmental communication is difficult enough as it is for service teams. It’s only made worse when requests come in through multiple channels like email, chat, and different social media platforms.
We want to remove as much friction as possible for the customer and make it easy for them to contact us, so reducing support channels isn’t an option.
It’s far better to consolidate support channels by routing them all to a single destination.
With one platform for all customer requests, you can ensure you don't lose track of anything and provide your team with the structure they need to deliver excellent service.
You can further reduce fragmentation by making sure the right people are notified when requests come in and kept in the loop.
Consider using a framework from project management like the RACI Matrix where people have roles based on their involvement. RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed.
8. Reduce Response Time
Good customer service teams are quick—they get customers the help they need when they need it.
To do that, your team needs to communicate quickly and seamlessly. Customer service collaboration without bouncing back and forth between different tools is essential.
Solving issues takes longer when communication happens in multiple places.
Longer resolution times frustrates customers. Frustrated customers create frustrated support teams, and frustrated support teams create more frustrated customers.
See how a vicious cycle gets started?
You can also save time responding to support requests using rules to set up dynamic routing to the right teams as well as round-robin assignment to distribute requests so support reps aren’t overloaded.
We also recommend using canned responses with variables to save time replying to common support questions.
When multiple people are involved in helping a customer, such as technical support issues or issues that need an extra set of eyes before they get sent, real-time collaborative writing cuts down the time normally spent sending email chains back and forth.
What’s Keeping You From Delivering Excellent Customer Service?
We’re all guilty of juggling too many things at once. When customer service is one more thing on your already full plate, it’s easy to let some things slip through the cracks.
Lack of proper training, lack of communication between department, lack of employee empowerment, and lack of processes are common issues keeping companies from delivering excellent customer service.
While there are numerous challenges and obstacles that can negatively affect customer service, recognizing these barriers is half the battle.