Customer service. Every business knows it’s important and yet it’s incredibly difficult to get right. Many businesses are afraid that if they over-invest in customer service, they’re just pouring money down the drain with customers who take advantage of them.
Yet the reality is that excellent customer service is a driver of profit. It’s very rare that customers will take advantage of your generous refund policy or keep your agents on the phone for hours. Most customers will simply appreciate it when your business goes the extra mile to ensure they are satisfied.
Great customer service is the difference between an average experience and one that keeps a customer coming back for more.
In case you need further persuading, 78% of customers will do business with a company again after a mistake if it has excellent customer service. Good customer service inoculates your business from service lapses and keeps existing customers coming back for more.
Why customer service is important
93% of customers are likely to make a repeat purchase with a brand if it offers excellent customer service. In summary, if you go one step further for customers they will spend more money with you.
Great customer service is the business of building relationships. If you’ve got another human on the other end of the phone, customers will feel more engaged with your brand and develop a personal connection.
95% of customers say that customer service is important for brand loyalty. When you treat your customers well, they are likely to keep returning to your business. It’s very unlikely that your products and services will be so unique that customers can’t get it elsewhere.
When you offer great customer service, customers remember you and recommend you to their friends and family.
Bad customer service costs your business a lot more than good customer service. 76% of customers say they would rather do business with a competitor after more than one instance of bad customer service.
14 golden rules of customer service to follow
Here are the 14 golden rules of customer service.
1. Train your customer service reps
Your customer service reps are the frontline of your business. They are the business’s public face that regularly interacts with customers and forms an impression of your brand. That’s why it’s so important to provide your team with regular customer service training that improves the level of service they can offer and helps them deal with specific scenarios.
You can help your agents develop their customer service skills such as empathy, problem-solving, and active listening. When reps receive regular training, they are more engaged with their jobs and likely to provide a higher standard of good customer service to customers. Happy employees who are more engaged remain longer in their jobs and this reduces staff attrition.
2. Have a customer service policy
If you want to offer good customer service, it’s important to have rules and guidelines in place that will instruct your service reps in how to interact with customers. That’s where a customer service policy comes into play.
A customer service policy contains your business’s vision and values for customer service, and outlines rules for how service reps should approach customers. Having a customer service policy in place standardizes the level of customer service your business is able to offer and creates accountability for your team.
[Link to customer service policy article]
3. Respond to your reviews
If customers take the time to leave a review for your business, it’s common courtesy for someone on your service team to post a reply. Even if the review is negative, this can still present a great opportunity for the business to portray the brand in a more positive light and make up for a lapse in service.
There’s a method that you can use to respond to negative reviews. 45% of customers say they are more likely to frequent a business if it responds to negative reviews. So responding to negative reviews has an impact on your bottom line because it enhances customer satisfaction, while acknowledging positive reviews appreciates your customers for their feedback.
4. Regularly gather feedback
Companies that want to thrive and build a successful business make a habit of listening to their customers. Sometimes customers will spontaneously offer their feedback, as in the case of reviews or messages posted on social media. While you should listen to and acknowledge these customers, it’s also crucial to proactively invite feedback with customer feedback tools like surveys.
77% of customers view brands more favorably if they seek out and act on feedback. Customers need to know that you care about their experience and are willing to act on the insights that they offer. After all, your business won’t know how to improve unless you ask for feedback from your customers.
5. Focus on solutions
Quite often, customers are going to be contacting your business with problems and it’s your job to solve them. Even if you don’t feel like the problem is your fault, it’s good to approach customers with a solutions-focused mindset. Being solutions-focused means you emphasize what can be done to fix the situation rather than dwelling on what went wrong.
When you solve problems for customers, they are likely to leave the interaction satisfied and become a happy customer. Satisfied customers are great for customer loyalty and are predisposed towards returning to you again. If you can help the customer avoid the problem in the future, that’s even better.
6. Aim to delight customers
Customer delight is all about going above and beyond what your customers expect to provide them with a superior and helpful service. It’s the kind of customer service that customers are willing to tell their friends about, and share on social media. Customer delight means knowing exactly what your customers need and giving it to them, all without them having to ask.
It could be something as simple as providing an unexpected free gift with their delivery, or a surprise discount on their next order. Delighting customers doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does mean going further than what is normal to create a memorable experience and provide excellent customer service.
7. Master the art of the apology
Sadly, there will always be times when things go wrong. Instead of getting defensive and trying to justify what happened, try to master the art of the apology and diffuse the situation with the customer. Customers appreciate a genuine and sincere apology when there has been a service lapse – as long as you also strive to make it right.
If businesses say that they’re sorry, customers are four times as likely to become an advocate for that business. If businesses apologize, they may worry that they are accepting liability for a problem, but apologies are necessary to repair a customer relationship.
8. Offer personalized service
Personalized customer service means treating your customers like individuals instead of a ticket number. It means remembering the past interactions that customers have had with your business and providing a coherent customer experience. If customers repeatedly have problems with your billing, you should have access to their past tickets so you can provide them with helpful service.
Investing in the right customer support software is half the battle when it comes to providing personalized support for your customers. You’ll have access to a customer’s history which will prevent them having to repeat themselves when interacting with your support reps.
9. Learn how to handle complaints
Some customers are just downright unhappy with the service they have received. In these situations, they may submit a complaint to your business. When a complaint comes in, the outcome rests on your business being able to deal with complaints and arrive at an effective resolution.
When customers complain, it’s always appropriate to offer an apology. Occasionally, you might want to offer them a discount or a refund to generate goodwill and make up for the experience they have suffered. Complaints are an opportunity to turn a service lapse into a positive experience, and transform a detractor into a brand advocate.
10. Develop a customer-centric culture
Customer service isn’t just the responsibility of your customer service team. Everyone in your company should be invested in a customer-centric culture, and keep the customer at the forefront of mind in all business decisions. Companies who are customer-centric always think about how what they will do will impact the customer experience.
When customers are prioritized in your business, this will be reflected in the overall impression that customers have of your brand. Any changes you make to your product or service will be in the customer’s best interest and result in happier customers who stick with you in the long-term.
11. Be professional at all times
It’s important for your service reps to be professional at all times in customer service. It’s true that there are often going to be situations where customers are rude, but you should always take the high road to preserve the reputation of your brand. Professional customer service reps always strive to keep their tone polite and to treat customers how they would wish to be treated.
On the other hand, it’s never acceptable for customers to be abusive. You should always have a policy in place to escalate these kinds of situations to a manager who can protect your service reps from overly aggressive customers. Don’t be afraid to “break up” with a customer if they are acting in an unacceptable manner.
12. Be as helpful as possible
Customer service is all about being helpful. If a customer has a problem with their product, always be ready to offer extra advice to help them get the most out of it. If you actively strive to anticipate customer needs, you’ll be in a position to be extra helpful which customers will appreciate.
Customers who receive helpful service are more likely to feel satisfied with your brand. They won’t end up with the impression that they are a burden to your support team and that their problem is taking valuable time out of your day. Helpful service convinces customers that you genuinely want to assist them in getting their problem solved.
13. Thank your customers
At the end of the day, customers don’t have to frequent your business. They could just as easily take their custom somewhere else. And that’s why it’s important to regularly thank your customers – for everything, whether that’s buying your products, offering feedback, making a complaint, and more.
91% of customers say they are more likely to do business with companies that appreciate them. And that’s why thanking customers is so crucial for customer retention and customer loyalty. When you thank your customers, they know your business views them as more than just a number.
14. Adopt the right customer support tools
Although the best customer service teams are composed of competent and professional support reps, they can’t do their jobs properly without the right tools in place. Investing in the right software like customer support tools shows customers you care and are willing to take the customer experience to the next level.
Tools like Keeping enable you to manage high volumes of customer support emails and help your agents to work collaboratively. Tickets can be managed easily with statuses and you can assign them to individual support reps. Advanced reporting means you can track the performance of your support team and identify where you need to make changes.
These 14 customer service rules aren’t just a list you should look at once and forget about – you should make an effort to regularly and consistently implement them into your customer service strategy. Businesses who are customer-focused will enjoy enhanced growth and higher profits than those who purely focus on sales.
When you follow these customer service rules, your customers will be much happier and reward you with repeat business. They’ll be resistant to the temptations of your competitors and more likely to recommend your brand to others.
Don’t view customer service as simply a necessity for your business. View it as an opportunity to enhance customer retention and loyalty, and differentiate your business from the herd.