Customer Service Values: Definition, Best Practices & Examples
Nearly 80% of customers say speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service are the key ingredients to any great buying experience.
But the pressure of delivering that experience usually falls at the feet of your customer service team. The reality is, no matter how well you train a customer service team, sooner or later they will be hit with a scenario they won't know how to deal with.
When it happens, they will either sink or swim… right? Well, there is also a third option—equipping them with a customer service values playbook.
Customer service values are essentially a compass to guide support reps on how to communicate and handle customer interactions. If a customer service representative doesn't know how to deal with conflict or thinks a customer is about to go to a competitor, these values act as a rulebook on how they should interact and react to every situation.
In this guide, we will walk you through why customer service values are so important and how to implement them to keep customers happy.
Let's dive in!
What are customer service values
Customer service values are strategies and principles that guide customer service staff to ensure every buying experience is positive, from communication to product satisfaction. In practice, they are words or phrases that encapsulate how support agents should interact with customers.
These core values directly align with a brand's mission statement and act as a benchmark for how your support team should deal with issues, communicate with customers, and talk about the brand publicly. Because of this, customer service values make a huge impact on a company's reputation and bottom line.
Why customer service values are important for your business
Customer service values are a compass for how service representatives should talk to and treat customers.
Essentially, these values are a framework that empower every decision a customer service rep makes, from how they talk to customers to how disputes are resolved and what ethos the company wants to portray.
A customer service team aligned behind core values not only creates a consistent customer experience, but also empowers employees to take charge in handling customer complaints and give customers a better experience.
To really figure out why customer service values are so important, I trawled through Newsweek’s America’s Best Customer Service 2023 report. It surveyed 30,000 U.S. customers over three years to see what made them open their wallets and buy from a company. Scores were based on 5 factors:
And… the winners were a bit of a surprise.
Usually, these types of customer service articles list the same brands, like Zappos or Apple, as benchmarks. But the Newsweek survey had different results. Customers voted for brands like Everlane for best online apparel retailer and Nordstrom Rack for best brick-and-mortar discount clothing outlet.
But why do customers love these brands so much? 🤔
Simple. Most companies have built trust with customers thanks to a solid set of customer service values based around consistent communication, empathy, focus, and satisfaction.
As a discount retailer, Nordstrom Rack has built its reputation on providing Nordstrom-level service at lower price points. Their values around friendliness, individual attention and making every customer feel valued have helped them gain and maintain loyal customers.
As for Everlane, its values of prioritizing transparency in its supply chain and communication offers customer an insight into ethical manufacturing and transparent pricing. Both companies clearly demonstrate how aligning operations with values can help build relationships and drive positive customer experiences.
So, how can you implement customer service values to give every customer the same experience with your brand? 🤔
Best Practices to Implement Customer Service Values at Your Company
Having great customer service require all your customer service employees to follow the same playbook to do their job well.
Defining clear customer values is the most crucial part to set the standard for how employees in the company should interact with customers and with each other. For example, if a core customer service value is integrity and transparency, a team is empowered to admit mistakes and take ownership if there is a problem with a customer's order.
Here are some best practices to follow when you create customer service values:👇
1. Get the Basics Right
Every customer service value strategy should be built from wider company values. Usually, these are taken from key principles like:
- Empathy. Each interaction with a customer should show genuine understanding and compassion while acknowledging and resolving their issues. In short: put yourself in your customer's shoes.
- Reliability. Customers need brands to show up and be dependable when they need them. Good customer service = meeting deadlines and hitting targets around shipping times/refunds.
- Responsiveness. Customers want quick responses and problem-solving. Responsiveness can significantly impact customer experience and can leave a good (or bad) taste in their mouth after dealing with your brand.
- Transparency. Customers expect you to be honest with them about products, services, pricing, and policies. It can build trust in your brand and help resolve conflicts if there are ever any issues.
Once you have laid this foundation, it's time to shape each value so it's unique to your brand.
Let's use Netflix's cultural values set as a hypothetical example.
It's clear the company wants to empower its employees to do great work by using sound judgment, good communication, and treating people with respect. Netflix could use these wider company values to create more direct customer services values for its team, like:
- Inclusion: Treat every customer with respect, no matter how long they have been a customer. Every Netflix customer is important.
- Communication: Remain calm and courteous every time you speak to a customer. Search for the root cause of the problem so you can make an informed decision about how to resolve it.
- Judgment: Always take a customer at their word. If they say their experience is subpar or they have been billed incorrectly, trust them and deal with their complaint immediately.
This example shows just how easy it is for a company already with a solid set of cultural values in place to create specific values for its customer service team. If a Netflix customer service rep faced a problem they weren't trained to deal with, these core values can guide them when handling the issue.
2. Create Concise Values
A common pitfall when creating a customer service value strategy is to go overboard.
The reality is, you don't need 20 customer service values written into a code of ethics for your team to succeed. Choose around 3-5 core values to guide your customer service agents when making decisions.
These may be customer service values like:
- Conflicts: When faced with a problem, treat customers with empathy, respect, and always aim for quick resolution.
- Always be positive: Centre every conversation around positivity and finding a happy resolution with the customer. When our customers are happy, we are happy.
- Authenticity: Good customer service feels fresh and real. Show our customers you can react and communicate in a personal, human way. Don't be afraid to inject your personality into conversations.
- Empowerment: Use your best judgment when speaking to customers. Make a decision based on your intuition and experience at our company.
Your values should also be short and easy for your team to remember. Whatever set of values you decide on will depend on your brand, but just make sure each one is directly tied to your wider values and company culture.
3. Use Values as a Foundation for a Customer Service SOP
Studies show companies that are more focused on solving customer problems grow faster than their competitors. But it's also important to make sure every customer problem is handled consistently.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) outline how your team should handle specific situations consistently based on the values you defined.
Let's say a customer's order is lost. An SOP could provide a guideline tailored to your core values on how the agent should respond. Depending on your guiding principles, agent could:
- Option 1: Apologize and give the customer a timeframe on when the issue will be resolved
- Option 2: Immediately post out a new order to keep the customer happy
This SOP should also include finer details like what language the customer service rep should use to keep interactions consistent:
- Will the customer be asked for order/tracking information to confirm a parcel has been lost, or should the customer service rep trust the customer's word?
- Should they focus on being empathetic and authentic? Or is speed and urgency more important?
- Should their goal be to resolve the conflict immediately by sending out a replacement? Or resolve it in a way the customer prefers, like issuing a refund?
These small (yet important) details during a customer interaction could mean the difference between smooth conflict resolution and a bad review on Google. If customer interactions are based around core customer service values like empathy, trust, and respect, they are more likely to end positively.
At the end of the day, a set of customer service values help your support team do its best work and more importantly—keeps customers happy.
Excellent Customer Service Values Examples That Won Over Loyal Customers
Instead of putting a list of generic tips here, I decided to take a look at how real brands use customer service values to keep customers coming back.
What I found wasn't all that surprising. Companies that put customers first and consistently deliver don't just retain customers—they turn them into lifetime brand advocates.
This approach also pays off, a Deloitte study found that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than competitors that don't prioritize customer experience.
Let's look at how some brands win using customer service values. 👇
1. Chewy wins customers over with empathy
Chewy is an online pet supplies store that sells all the essentials like food, toys, treats, and even medicine.
After taking Newsweek's survey, customers ranked Chewy a whopping 9.16 outta 10 (and nearly .5 points ahead of second place). I looked at what customer service values made Chewy so special, and a few really stood out:
- 🐶 Partnership: One of the brand's taglines is "With Chewy, no one pet-parents alone". It's a promise to customers they will be there for every step of pet parenthood and equip them with everything they need to keep a pet happy and healthy.
- 💰 A customer first philosophy: Chewy has a 100% Unconditional Satisfaction Guaranteed Policy on every order. If a customer doesn't like a product, a customer service rep swiftly triggers a refund.
- ☎️ Availability: Chewy's team is available in the morning, noon, and even at 3 am. Thanks to 24/7 service (365 days a year), customer support is always open.
- 🍋 Understanding: They are experts at turning lemons into lemonade. For example, if an order arrives with the wrong product, the customer service team acts with understanding instead of thinking about lost profits. They ask the customer to donate the wrong items to a local animal shelter while they send out a replacement. This small gesture can help customers feel good and shows Chewy cares more about animals than money.
The one customer service value that stopped me in my tracks was Chewy's empathy towards customers.
Its customer service reps are trained to recognize how attached customers are to their animals—especially when they experience loss. When Anna Brose's beloved dog Gus passed away, she contacted Chewy to return some unopened food. Just look what happened next:
Thank you all for the kind messages and shared stories in the comments 💙 Gus would have been blown away! pic.twitter.com/DiopASuHIi— Anna Brose, MSc (@alcesanna) June 16, 2022
The tweet was flooded with hundreds of thousands of comments. Amazingly, some of them were from other customers saying they received the same empathetic support from Chewy. One customer even said Chewy sent a hand-painted portrait of their pet after she crossed the rainbow bridge. 🥺
These customer service values set brands like Chewy apart—and ensure its customers stick around for life.
2. Nordstrom puts customer satisfaction first
Nordstrom is so well known for its customer service, there has even been a book written about it.
It's easy to see why. If you open up Nordstrom's code of ethics, this ii the first thing you will see:
This core customer service value is a continuous theme for how the brand approaches customer service. It not only empowers employees to take care of customers, but it guides the customer service team on how to approach situations like product returns and conflict resolution.
Just take a look at how the retailer asks its team to use good judgment with its flexible returns policy. Regardless of the reason, Nordstrom allows customers to return products without hassle or time limits, and even without a receipt!
A quick Twitter search comes back with a ton of happy customers who have returned items TWO YEARS later—no questions asked.
Yesterday I returned a bra to @nordstrom that I bought in 2020 (and never used because it didn't fit well) and they gave me a full refund. Nordstrom's #customerservice truly cannot be beat! pic.twitter.com/zXGkhfEEVY— Katie-Rose Watson (@krwatson) February 11, 2022
The bottom line with Nordstrom's customer service values is a simple one: meet and exceed customer expectations—and they will shop with us again.
3. LANDR uses consistent communication to educate customers
You can't keep customers happy if they can only contact you between 9-5or if their only option for a refund is to call you. That strategy may have worked 20 years ago, but today—it's dead in the water.
A customer service department is only as efficient as the tech it uses. To track communications and connect with customers, agents need the right toolkit.
Here's an example:
LANDR is a creative platform that has helped over 2.5 million musicians turn their ideas into real tracks.
But as LANDR grew, its support team struggled to handle customer service queries. The team decided to use these questions as a chance to educate users on how to get the most out of the platform and build trust in the platform.
LANDR used Missive to communicate efficiently with users based on a core set of customer service values:
- Expertise. Each support team member covers one product line. This approach allows each support rep to become an expert in a specific feature and maximize value when they talk to a customer.
- Useful information. Thanks to Missive's collaboration feature, different customer service members can chime in and provide more information to users if needed.
- Quick communication. A lot of questions the customer service team receive are the same, so they use canned responses and templates to answer them in seconds.
LANDR now uses its customer service values around education and quick communication to build trust with customers and grow its brand.
Customer Service Values Should Always Be Aligned With Your Company’s Values
Your company's customer service values should act as the guiding principles to how you treat customers.
With a customer service values playbook, your team can navigate even the toughest scenarios with the right approach. Anchor every value to a wider company goal, like empathy, communication, or authenticity, to help set your service apart and empower your team to handle every situation with confidence.
Most importantly, a solid customer service values strategy will keep your team on the same page and ensure every customer has the same great experience with your brand.
Think about what your company stands for and build your customer service values from the ground up. As long as every value puts your customers first and follow customer service best practices—trust and customer loyalty will always follow. 🙌