9 Critical Customer Service Factors For Success

9 Critical Customer Service Factors For Success

Did you know that a critical factor determining customer loyalty to a brand is the level of customer service they receive? Yes, when you treat customers well, they are more likely to choose you over a competitor and to make repeat purchases. Especially when problems arise, customers are waiting for your business to respond to.

catherine heath

Last updated: December 15, 2022

7 mins read

Did you know that a critical factor determining customer loyalty to a brand is the level of customer service they receive? Yes, when you treat customers well, they are more likely to choose you over a competitor and to make repeat purchases. Especially when problems arise, customers are waiting for your business to respond to them and show that they care. 

90% of customers use customer service as a factor when deciding whether to do business with a company, according to Microsoft. Helping existing customers should be a priority for your business, so make the move away from viewing customer service as a cost center. 

If your business falls short of customer service standards, customers will be leaving your company in droves. And no matter what type of business you are, all companies must strive to improve customer retention in order to increase revenue and profits. 

Providing exceptional customer service means investing in the future of your company. You look beyond short-term goals like customer acquisition and instead emphasize customer service factors for long-term customer retention and loyalty. 

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What is successful customer service? 

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

The best companies in the world know that successful customer service is the key to happy customers. While providing quality and desirable products and services is important, it’s the way that you treat customers that determines how they feel about your business. It’s easy for rival products and services to outcompete your brand in the marketplace, but excellent customer service is much harder to duplicate. 

Successful customer service means responding to customers in a timely manner, and treating them as a human being rather than a ticket. It’s part of the promise that your business makes to a customer when they complete a purchase, that you’ll strive to ensure they are fully satisfied. 

You have the team in place to be able to effectively respond to customer inquiries and troubleshoot potential issues. Customers leave any interaction feeling much happier than they did when they first reached out, because your service put a smile on their face. 

9 critical customer service factors

We’re going to look at the most critical success factors when it comes to customer service. 

1. Availability of agents

As we’ve already mentioned, the timeliness of your responses to customers is a critical factor in customer service success. If your agents are not available during peak times when customers are getting in touch, this is going to result in a backlog of tickets that take a long time to get solved and leave the customer hanging. 

While providing 24/7 support might be an unrealistic goal for your business, you can schedule in more agents to work during busy times, which software like Keeping will be able to show you in reporting. You might need to have more agents working on evenings and weekends, if that’s when your customers are typically getting in touch. 

Customers will be delighted if they receive an instant response to their inquiry, and this is more likely to happen if you have more agents on standby to handle requests. It means you have respected their time and that you view every customer request as a priority. 

75% of customers rated fast response times as the most important attribute of the customer experience. 

2. Detailed knowledge of issues

Customers could be contacting your business with all manner of requests. It might be that their package has gone missing, their system is experiencing an outage, or some of their data has disappeared. Whatever the issue, customer service reps need to be prepared to help customers with all manner of situations. 

When agents are experienced, this results in a faster and more successful resolution for customers’ problems. Customers are reassured that they are dealing with a service rep who is well-prepared and properly equipped for dealing with their problem. 

Knowledgeable service reps means fewer issues have to be escalated and can be dealt with by the first point of contact. 

If an issue has been encountered before, service reps can share this knowledge with the rest of the team so that agents know exactly how to diagnose the problem next time. Customers will be impressed with the professionalism of your team, and you may even be able to prevent the next issue from recurring again. 

3. Strong agent morale

“The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people.” – Tom Peters, Best-Selling Author

One factor you can’t overlook is the morale of your agents on your customer service team. They won’t be able to deliver exceptional customer service if they don’t feel happy in the team and engaged in their work. A team with low morale will experience high agent turnover and therefore struggle to maintain a high standard of service quality while constantly onboarding new agents. 

Keeping your agents happy can be achieved by providing a positive working culture and prioritizing customer-centricity in your company. Agents who feel like they’re struggling alone against the tide of the company are more likely to leave and look for a better position elsewhere. 

Happy employees result in happy customers. The attitude of your employees towards your customers is infectious and it’s a reflection of how they feel coming into work every day. 

4. Self-service content

Often, when an unhappy customer has had to reach out to your customer service team the business has already failed. 40% of customers now prefer self-service over human contact, and if you don’t provide it for them they will resent having to pick up the phone or fire off an email. 

The truth is, the majority of basic inquiries to your team can be solved with self-service content. Your business just needs to take the time to create the documentation that can help customers, which is often hard to justify when your team is busy and engaged in solving customer tickets. 

Just remember that providing self-service articles and videos for customers will drastically reduce the number of tickets your support team is receiving. Sometimes great customer service is when customers never have to get in contact at all. 

5. Being able to meet customer needs

You can have the best customer service team in the world but if you’re not able to meet customer needs then you will fail. You need to have an understanding of what customers require from your business, which will vary depending on the kind of service and products your company provides. 

Surveying your customers and finding out what problems your business helps them to solve is a great way to improve your ability to meet customer needs. You might find that customers are desperate for you to provide customer support on live chat, in which case that is tangible evidence that can lead to improvements. 

Customer service will be successful when your reps are intimately acquainted with your customer base. You know who they are and what they need from your business so you can ensure customer satisfaction, every time. 

Customer needs are constantly evolving and require an approach that is finely tuned to shifting customer expectations. 

6. Regular training of service reps

Making sure you develop your service reps with the right customer service skills is vital to achieving high quality service. While you’ve hopefully hired the right people for your team in the first place, it never hurts to give your reps refresher courses in skills like empathy or active listening. 

Well-trained service reps are the front line of your business because they are the ones dealing with your customers every day. You need to invest in your people in order to deliver effective customer service, and ensure that your employee retention rate remains high. 

There is no more valuable resource than a well-trained and seasoned customer service rep who knows your products and services intimately. Reps who have received continuous professional development are well-placed to help your customers and provide an enhanced experience. 

Being able to demonstrate the key customer service skills is the secret to a high-performing customer service team. 

7. Availability across channels

Customers now expect your customer service team to be available across a variety of channels, including email, social, phone and live chat. Not only that, but they expect a consistent experience regardless of how they get in touch. Customers want you to be available when and where they are, in order to reduce the friction of the service experience. 

40% of customers choose “multiple options for communicating” as the most important feature of a company’s customer service department. In order to keep your customers satisfied, you need to make sure that customers can choose their channel for submitting their service issue. 

Not only that, but customers expect you to have access to their data so they don’t have to explain the context and history of their issue. The most exceptional customer service experiences are underpinned by a powerful system such as a CRM that keeps agents informed about every customer. 

8. Explicit customer service philosophy

Do you know where your customer service team is heading? If your customer service team is traveling without a guiding light then you’re trying to steer without a rudder. A customer service philosophy is a document that enables you to clarify what customer service means to you as a business. It contains goals that your customer service team wants to strive for and gives them direction on how customers should be treated. 

When businesses have a customer service philosophy, customer service becomes much more consistent and purposeful. It contains explicit instructions for the customer experience that you want to create and helps reps to understand how they should behave around customers. 

A customer service philosophy contains a vision and values. The vision is a statement of the type of service that reps should be delivering to customers, while the values is a list of principles that tell agents how to adhere to your vision. 

Your customer service philosophy has the ability to inspire your agents and ensure they are all working from the same playbook. 

9. Customer service software

No customer service team can be successful without the right software to underpin their workflows. You need a robust help desk system like Keeping in order to organize, prioritize and resolve customer tickets, so you can keep track of a high volume of inquiries. 

We know your support team is busy, so that’s why Keeping works right on top of Gmail which eliminates the need to learn a complicated new system. Your customer service software is a critical factor in delivering timely and responsive support to your customers. 

With Keeping, you can keep track of vital metrics like first response time which tells you how well your agents are performing. You can speed up performance through implementing features such as automations, which can automatically route tickets to the right agent or department. 

Teams that use Keeping experience a significant uptick in their ability to provide outstanding customer service. 

Wrapping up

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. You need to emphasize and work on the critical success factors listed here in order to increase your chances of providing exceptional customer service. We’ve covered how customer service is essential to a thriving business, because it keeps customers happy and ensures they keep returning for repeat business. 

While great customer service looks different for every business, these are consistent factors that determine whether or not your company is going to be successful. Having a strong and competent customer service team underpins every action you might want to take, while having a well-thought out philosophy is also crucial.

Consistently meeting customer needs is a critical factor in delivering exceptional customer service.  

Customers will definitely notice when you go the extra mile in pursuit of higher customer satisfaction. Good customer service costs much less than bad customer service, and ensures that customer retention remains high. 

catherine heath

Catherine is a content writer and community builder for creative and ethical companies. She often writes case studies, help documentation and articles about customer support. Her writing has helped businesses to attract curious audiences and transform them into loyal advocates. You can find more of her work at https://awaywithwords.co.

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