Customer Service Strategy

Customer Service Strategy – A Guide

How to develop a customer service strategy for your company.
Guest Contributor
11 min read
11 min read

In a Nutshell

An effective customer service strategy enables you to deliver customer service that lives up to your brand’s promise and meets customer expectations. Your strategy is like a map that tells you whether you’re going in the right direction and indicates when course corrections need to be made.

Table of Contents

Customers today require a great deal from businesses. They want superior products and services, fair prices, convenience, excellent customer service and fast responses. If your business isn’t investing in the customer experience, then you will be lagging behind the competition. The customer dictates how the business operates and you should always be striving to meet their needs.

Consider that a staggering 96% of customers said customer service was important when it came to earning their brand loyalty. 

It’s clear to companies that the best way to generate repeat business and keep customers coming back is to offer excellent customer service. The question is, what are you doing to improve customer service in your company?

A customer service strategy is important when it comes to ensuring that your service reps know exactly what is expected of them during customer interactions. A strategy will help you cultivate a relentless customer obsession and ensure long term customer loyalty.

What is a customer service strategy?

A customer service strategy is a plan that guides your team on how to deal with customer service interactions over the entire customer journey and customer service experience, with the end goal of increasing customer satisfaction.

A strong customer service strategy outlines what a business will do to please its customers and establishes aims for customer service. It’s tied to key business goals and is aimed at raising the standard of customer service that the business is able to offer.

Without a customer service strategy, your team is rudderless and your customer service efforts will be unfocused. A strategy indicates to your team whether it is on the right course or if adjustments need to be made.   You can think of it as a customer service vision.

Why is a customer service strategy important? 

A customer service strategy helps with customer retention by providing an exceptional experience for your customers. When your loyal customers are treated well, they are less likely to turn to your competitors and your business can benefit from repeat purchases. You can reap the rewards of having earned loyal customers who prefer to buy from your brand.

An effective customer service strategy enables you to deliver customer service that lives up to your brand’s promise and meets customer expectations. 

Customer service that is delivered as a result of your strategy offers a more consistent experience for customers on the receiving end of support. Agents know what is expected of them and they can take actions that will help the business meet its goals.

Giving customer service a direction is important because it is the public-facing department of your brand. Satisfactory instances of customer service are important in maintaining your business’s reputation and ensuring customers go forth with only positive things to say. Customer service impacts the customer’s perception of your brand so it’s important to get this right.

A customer service strategy saves your business money in the end by minimizing the number of negative experiences that require significant resources to resolve. With a strategy in place, your team can anticipate problems and head them off before they have a deeper impact.

See for yourself

Keeping is the fastest, simplest way to manage customer support right inside Gmail.

How to build a customer service strategy

Make customer service the responsibility of everyone

Customer service shouldn’t just be the responsibility of the customer service team. Each member of your organization should have a stake in how customers are treated since everyone’s work likely impacts the customer in some way.

A relentless customer obsession should be the focus of your customer service strategy. Every single employee should pledge towards putting customers first and this also involves striving to meet the needs of the customer service team. If the service team is supported, they will be able to deliver better care to customers.

Customer service is the promise that your business makes to support its customers. 

If your business has its priorities right, customer service should be one of the most important departments in the company. Your customer service values should not only be embodied by your support reps but shared by everyone who wants to make life better for your customers.

Your customers may never interact directly with your finance team, but they will certainly notice if there’s a delay in receiving their refund. All employees have a duty to ensure that every customer has a delightful experience.

Set SMART goals for customer service

Every team needs a set of goals to aim for but especially your customer service team. Make sure you set SMART goals as targets for them to hit in order to give your team direction and an understanding of what they need to do to help customers.

Goals should be aspirational and be designed to improve the functioning of your customer service team.

SMART stands for:

  • S means “specific”
  • M means “measurable”
  • A means “achievable”
  • R means “realistic”
  • T means “timely”

You need to include each key area in your goals in order to achieve effective goal-setting. Your goals must be focused on a single area rather than being general ambitions. Set your goals so that they are possible to reach with effort but not so easy that they don’t encourage business growth. Your customer service goals should be in line with key business goals and serve a wider purpose. You need to make sure you can measure when you have achieved your goals in a particular time frame.

Make sure your goals are made available to everyone in your customer service team. Some examples of goals you could set are:

  • Reduce average first response time from [X hours] to [Y minutes] by [date]
  • Decrease Customer Effort Score (CES) by 10% by [date]
  • Increase Agent Satisfaction rate by 5% by [date]

When you hit your goals, check them off and come up with new goals to keep your team motivated.

Offer proactive customer service

A good customer service strategy means your reps won’t always be waiting around for customers to contact them. They can proactively anticipate customer needs to provide an exceptional customer experience and resolve problems before they even occur.  You don’t need to wait for customer feedback to deliver excellent customer service.

Customers will appreciate your business taking the time to sort out the smaller issues. 

Incorporating proactive customer service into your strategy ensures your agents are truly empowered to help customers. It makes all the difference between good and bad customer service, since by the time the customer has reached out to your team it means you have already failed.

Initiating proactive customer service means your reps need to be given enough time in their day to reach out to customers who might need them. For example, you could notice that a customer’s shipment is going to be late, so you can proactively alert them before they are aware of a problem.

Customers who have their problems resolved proactively will have a more positive perception of your brand and are more likely to be loyal. It’s worth taking the time to ensure a delightful customer experience that customers are likely to tell their friends about and recommend your brand.

Empower your customer service reps

Your customer service strategy won’t be effective if agents are restricted by overly rigid protocols when it comes to serving a customer. If an agent has to seek permission from a manager every time they want to issue a refund then this will result in longer resolution times and more dissatisfied customers.

Make it easy for agents to help customers, rather than focusing on rules and regulations. 

When it comes to deciding on policies that govern how agents can solve problems for customers, flexibility is key. Reps should be empowered to make their own decisions if they need to choose on whether to give discounts, replace an item, or accept a return.

It should be easy for reps to make the right choice without having to consult anyone else. It all comes down to trusting the judgment of your customer service team, who know best how to help the customer.

When you put customers first, this results in a better customer experience and customers who are more satisfied with the overall resolution. Service should be fast and fair, so that customers trust your business to act in their best interests and live up to their promise of excellent service.

Form an effective team

In order to deliver on your customer service strategy you need to build the right team who appreciate the value of customer service. As we mentioned earlier, customer service isn’t just limited to your customer-facing team, but should be one of the guiding principles for everyone you hire in your company.

Being able to hire the right people all rests on getting clear on what you value as a company, which relates to the first point we made about making customer service everyone’s responsibility. When everyone’s on the same page, you can look for candidates who not only have all the required technical skills but fit in with the company’s culture and values.

Ensure that every new hire undergoes customer service training so they understand the importance of customer service to your organization. Everyone’s role can have an impact on creating an amazing customer experience, and you can make this clear during the onboarding process.

When it comes to your customer service team themselves, make sure you hire people who can respond to customers with empathy, patience and efficiency. Offer competitive rates of pay to show you’re willing to invest in great customer service. Ensure that there are career development opportunities for your agents so you can retain them in the long term.

Exceptional customer service can only be delivered if you have the best team working for you. If your employees are happy to work, this will be reflected in the level of customer service they provide and customers will be happy as a result.

Choose the right tools

A successful customer service strategy hinges on whether you have the right tools to support your policies and processes. Whatever software you choose, it needs to be focused on the customer so technology doesn’t get in the way of providing great service.

It’s crucial to have the right help desk system to let you manage customer requests. Consider a tool like Keeping which sits right on top of Gmail and allows you to turn customer support emails into tickets. 

Keeping makes it easy for your customer service team to collaborate on tickets by assigning statuses and offering collision detection to prevent duplicate replies. Keeping also includes robust analytics so you can keep track of your team’s performance and ticket volume.

Another tool you might want to think about is a customer-facing knowledge base that you can fill with self-service content to deflect common support enquiries. Customers will be more satisfied when you give them the option to help themselves, and you reduce the load on your customer service team as well.

Collect continuous feedback

A customer service strategy is not something you implement once and never think about again. It must be regularly refined and improved in order to keep it relevant and advancing the goals of your business.

The best way to improve your strategy is to regularly collect feedback from your customers and service reps for an honest account of how well you’re doing. You can survey your customers, read their reviews, or conduct customer interviews. Conduct 1:1s with your reps and ask them how they think the strategy is going.

Gathering feedback is a good way to show your customers that you care about their opinions and value their business. Even better is acting on their feedback and closing the loop with customers after you do.

When you collect your feedback, make sure you share it with other teams so they are a part of your evolving strategy.

How to measure your customer service strategy

There are a few customer service metrics you can track to measure the effectiveness of your customer service strategy.

NPS

Net Promoter Score (NPS) captures how loyal a customer is to your brand by asking how likely they are to recommend it to others. It asks a simple question: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend [business] to a friend, colleague or family member?” The rating the customer gives you tells you whether they are a Detractor, Passive or Promoter. Your Net Promoter Score is the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors.

CSAT

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) measures how satisfied customers are after a particular interaction with your business. It works by asking a question like: “How satisfied are you with the support you have received today?” The customer must answer on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very dissatisfied and 5 being very satisfied.

CES

Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort it takes for a customer to complete a particular interaction with your brand. It asks a question like: “How easy was it to resolve your issue today?” The customer answers on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being very difficult and 7 being very easy. The less effort a customer has to go through to interact with your business, the more satisfied they will be with your service.

Customer service strategy template

Wrapping up

In order to deliver the best possible customer service, you need to have a strategy in place that will guide your team through the intricacies and ensure everyone is on the same page. No business can get away with not having a strategy, or your customer service will suffer and customers will be leaving your company in droves.

Great customer service looks different in every business, but all are united by a common theme. 

Your strategy is like a map that tells you whether you’re going in the right direction and indicates when course corrections need to be made. Your customers will be able to tell that your business has a relentless customer-focus, and this will keep them returning to your business again and again.

See for yourself

Keeping is the fastest, simplest way to manage customer support right inside Gmail.

Catherine Heath
Catherine Heath
Catherine is a content writer and community builder for creative and ethical companies. She is often writing 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.