Why are first impressions important? Top 5 breakdown
We’ve all heard about the importance of first impressions, but do you know how important they are for customer satisfaction? Find out here.
Updated on May 08, 2023
Published on May 23, 2018
There’s little debate that great customer service can contribute to a successful business. From glowing online reviews that can help build your business to customer loyalty that keeps revenues coming in, great customer service plays an important role in your business strategy.
But are you sure your entire team understands what providing great customer service means? In this article, we’ll provide a refresher guide with examples of how they can do just that.
A good way to define good customer service is service that meets customers’ expectations. Sadly, consumers report they’re not always getting the customer support they need. If a customer wants information, your customer service team provides it accurately. If customers expect refunds, your reps accommodate them, and if customers anticipate a repair under warranty, they get it.
But if you have higher goals for your team, the difference between good and great customer service is moving beyond meeting expectations to make interactions quick, easy, and personalized.
You can move beyond great customer service to achieve excellence by including elements of empathy and relationship-building and addressing the unique needs of individual customers.
Because all businesses are different, customer service delivery will also differ. However, there are five characteristics that great customer service has across the board. They are as follows.
Your team should always treat customers with dignity and respect. Demonstrating respect for customers will enhance customer experiences.
It can also help de-escalate tense interactions and earn the benefit of the doubt if an agent needs extra time to find an answer or resolve a problem. Showing respect starts with “please” and “thank you” and ends with honesty, transparency, and accountability for mistakes.
Customers want answers fast. Research shows that 90% of consumers rate immediate responses as “important” or “very important” for customer service issues. Helping customers resolve issues or access information quickly is key to great customer service.
Most customers agree that one of the key elements of good customer service is reliability. Your team must be accessible, return calls on time, and deliver what they promise. Customers want to know they can count on your team when they need service or support.
Good customer service skills also include the ability to empathize with the customer. Empathy validates the customer’s feelings and lets them know you understand their frustration, even if your business isn’t at fault. A customer who speaks to an empathetic person is less likely to become angry and more likely to cooperate to resolve the issue.
Your agents should always conduct themselves professionally. That includes building the first four values into how they interact with customers, staying on task, relying on company policies and information to provide accurate, relevant answers, and respecting the customer’s time.
These 13 real-life examples and actionable ideas for providing excellent customer service can inspire you to enhance your customer service strategy.
One of the most effective ways to deliver excellent customer service is to train every employee, regardless of role, to be prepared to assist when a customer asks. Marriott is one of the best real-life examples. Everyone from the bellhop to the chef is ready to help customers, even if the issue doesn’t fall under their normal list of responsibilities. (It also shows if your customer service is that good, people will talk about it!)
Another way to exceed customer expectations is to address potential issues proactively. Customers will appreciate the extra effort that ensures they get the most value from doing business with your company.
Customer support agents must be knowledgeable about their company’s products and services as well as its policies and procedures and be able to answer questions accurately. Encourage your team to keep an eye on the big picture and look for ways to provide additional value to your customers.
A single customer interaction may lead to a resolution, but following up to ensure customer satisfaction can take customer service from good to great.
A simple email or text with an invitation to contact your customer service team again for additional assistance will let your customers know their satisfaction is a priority.
The best customer service operations support a business’s overall strategy. Take Amazon, for example. At a high-level, its business strategy is building volume and keeping customers returning. As a result, Amazon’s customer service team fields a tremendous number of inquiries.
And, just like the company’s overall objective, the customer service team’s objective is to keep customers happy and coming back. They resolve issues with as little back and forth as possible and focus on building long-term relationships, even if that means a higher cost in the short term, with initiatives such as its customer-friendly return policies.
Of course, not every business can operate like Amazon, but the principle still holds. Customer service policies and operations should align with your business strategy.
Delivering amazing customer service requires personalizing customer interactions. Understanding and meeting specific customers’ needs is one of the reasons Trader Joe’s ranks at the top of America’s favorite grocery stores.
Likewise, USAA has a top rank among insurance companies due in part to identifying their customers' needs and becoming experts in them. Alaska Airlines made Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Customer Service 2023 for its customer focus and quality of communications.
Evaluate customer service experiences and consider how you can make them more personalized, from simple changes like calling customers by name to more complex strategies that involve analyzing customer data and using those insights to enhance customer journeys.
Businesses that consistently provide good customer service experiences never rest on their laurels. They constantly look for ways to improve service. For example, Valve, the creator of the video game distribution platform Steam, makes recommendations of games offered at significant discounts and has established streamlined processes that allow gamers to begin playing with just a few clicks.
However, Valve realizes that sometimes its recommendations miss the mark. So, it enables customers to test the game and get a refund. Customer feedback is golden for refining services and achieving higher customer satisfaction rates.
Formalizing customer service policies and processes will help your team deliver consistent, on-brand experiences. However, great customer service sometimes requires adapting to customers’ needs to find solutions that work for your business and them. Build a team of problem-solvers with the goal of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Customers will look to your team for advice on their purchases or the services they choose, and building customer education into customer service can improve experiences. REI has mastered this concept.
Every department in the store is staffed by veteran outdoor enthusiasts who take the role of personal shopping assistants as customers consider purchasing camping, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor gear. REI has also ranked high among consumers for making them feel respected.
Empower your employees with the authority to make decisions and advocate for customers so they can confidently make purchasing decisions.
When customers explain their issues, customer service reps should actively listen and ask clarifying questions so they thoroughly understand the matter at hand. This technique can uncover information that the customer wouldn’t have shared otherwise — and it provides an opportunity to express empathy for the customer’s issue.
More companies are adopting self-service customer service options to allow customers to find answers and information more quickly, with artificial intelligence (AI) leading the way.
Data is key to perfecting self-service, and IKEA is proof. The company provides proactive documentation that prevents customers from making mistakes during furniture assembly. Instructions include customers' most common mistakes and where they occur, creating an effective, proactive self-service customer service model.
Although a customer inquiry might be the ninth or tenth of the day about the same issue and routine for an agent, it’s still consequential to the customer. Ensure your reps always respond promptly and treat the customer’s problem with the importance it deserves.
Consider scaling your customer service capabilities with technology, such as chatbots or AI, to enhance the customer experience. These solutions can automate customer service, giving customers an advanced self-service option. In addition, solutions that leverage natural language processing (NLP) allow customers to interact conversationally with the solution for good customer experiences.
Meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations requires meeting customers where they are. Consider taking an omnichannel approach with contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) technology that enables customers to contact your team via phone, email, social media, or live chat. With a variety of options, you’ll be able to provide the experiences that any customer prefers.
Achieving excellent customer service delivery positively impacts satisfaction, but it also translates to benefits for your business that you can measure in dollars and cents.
Research shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium for good customer experiences, which can help grow revenues and profits. On the other hand, 59% of U.S. consumers will walk away after several bad customer service experiences, thus hurting your bottom line.
Industry leaders ensure they’re building relationships with loyal customers by creating excellent customer service in the customer journey. Whether through AI solutions or empathetic agents, businesses are consistently making CX a priority.
At Zoom, we don’t just develop solutions for our customers to use, but we use them ourselves. Check out how we use our own AI chatbot at Zoom to generate a 93% self-service rate and save more than $13 million each month.
To learn more about our virtual agents, AI technology, and customer experience solutions, contact us to discover new ways to support your team and deliver fast, reliable, and accurate customer service.