“Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.” -Sally Gronow

Having a product that your consumers love is great, but it’s only half the equation. Your customer service is the other half — And if it’s unreliable, unhelpful, or difficult to use, then you will most certainly lose customers over it. 

For this reason, investing in quality customer service is key to a successful business long-term. But it’s important to first fully understand what great customer service looks like, so we’ve identified a number of ways you can build it and be at the top of your field.

1. Understand your product

When a customer comes to you for guidance on how to resolve an issue, it means that they’re stuck on what to do. This means that they need someone who is more knowledgeable than they are about the product at hand who can perform troubleshooting steps.

For new CSRs, this can be nerve wracking at first, even if they do understand the inner workings of a product. Fortunately though, this anxiety will melt away with hands-on experience with customers. It has been said that the highest demonstration of understanding is via teaching — So in this way, the more a CSR practices teaching troubleshooting steps, the easier it will become, and the more valuable they can be.

2. Maintain positivity

Negativity breeds negativity, and positivity breeds positivity! Customers may already be bringing frustrated and upset vibes when they call customer service, so it is on the agent to turn things around. A can-do, friendly attitude refreshes disgruntled customers, and makes calls more pleasant for both them and the customer service rep. There’s already a good chance that a client will feel like their issue is impossible to resolve, so delight them by showing that you love helping them out!

3. Creatively problem-solve

The best CSRs are ones who can think outside the box. Be willing to resolve customer issues by meeting the customer where they are, then wow them with a solution that goes above and beyond. Send them freebies, promos, and discounts. Provide them with service that is bigger than the size of the problem they came to you with.

4. Respond quickly

Did you know that 66% of people believe that valuing their time is the most important thing in any online customer experience? That’s a pretty impressive metric, and one that begs you for shorter call waiting times. One great way to prevent customers from listening to dreadful call waiting musak is to offer a callback feature. So if the expected wait is 30 minutes, the customer can reserve their spot in the queue with their phone number, hang up, and go about their day for 30 minutes, until a rep can call them back!

All that said, great service beats fast service any day. Customers understand that complex issues take some time to resolve, and there’s a difference between how quickly you respond, and how quickly you actually resolve the issue at hand. Get back to your customers in a timely manner, but don’t rush to close the support ticket without a complete resolution either.

5. Treat customers as people, not ticket numbers

According to MediaPost, 40% of customers want better human service. They get angry when they receive the same information they could get from the troubleshooting section of your website, and hate being transferred from one rep to another. 

Ultimately, your customer wants to interact with a person, not a corporation. So the question is, do you know their names? Birthdays? Hobbies and interests? Can you make them laugh? Obviously, this isn’t possible for every customer, but do take the risk of going off-script for them. It’s the human touches that make for unbeatable customer service!

6. Actively listen

The art of deep listening is at the very core of understanding. Listen to your customer’s feedback, no matter how harsh. Are there any common threads? They are telling you how you can improve for them — Which is invaluable information to have!

But it’s also about making an effort to listen in real-time, on each and every call, without pushing your agenda or assuming what they’re going to say. Customers are happy when they feel heard, and when you really hear them you are able to resolve their problems on a fundamental level.

Demonstrate active listening skills, whether on the phone or live chat, by using phrases like, “It sounds like … ” ,  “Do you mean … ?”,  or “Let me make sure I’ve got this right.” Repeat back what they’ve said to you in your own words, to show that you understand.

7. Keep your word

Deliver on what you promise your customers. This may sound like common-sense, but it separates outstanding customer service from that which is simply passable. When you keep your promises, you verify that you can be trusted, and trust is pivotal to offering world-class customer service.

If you do break your promises — Like if a certain product is incorrectly stocked on your website, and you’re actually out of stock — Offer something to make up for it. While a 30% off coupon for their next order might lose you a small amount of money in the short-term, it’s well-worth the experience of winning back the trust of a repeat customer.

When in doubt, remember that it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver, than to fail to keep a promise in the first place. By fulfilling this important social contract, you have the ability surprise and delight your customers’ time, and time again.