You could sell the greatest product or service on earth, but it will still fall flat without the right customer service. Today’s customers are savvier than ever. They have high expectations, and they have limited patience when those expectations aren’t met. Where do your customers interact with your service team the most? In customer service conversations.
The good news is that you can use customer service conversations to your advantage. When it comes to making a purchase, a reported 64% of customers find experience more important than price. That means you can charge more when you offer an amazing customer service experience.
Your business likely already has customer service conversations, but are they as strong as they can be? Poor customer service is the reason 58% of Americans switch companies, so you can’t afford to mess this up. If you want to use your customer service conversations to create superfans, you need the right strategy.
In this guide, you’ll find 20 things that ensure great customer service conversations with each interaction. Think of this as your go-to recipe for customer service success. If you’re missing any of these ingredients, you might spoil the entire dish. Let’s get started.
- Advocate For Customer Concerns
- Assertive Approach To Conflict
- Attention To Detail
- Calm Demeanor In Times Of Crisis
- Clear Next Steps
- Consistency With Values And Policies
- Empathy For Customer Experiences
- Firm Rejection Of Abuse
- Flexibility For Special Circumstances
- Genuine Apologies
- Honest Replies To Unknown Questions
- Humility And Relatability
- Provide Options For Solutions To Customer Problems
- Pauses For Customer Contribution
- Personalized Messaging
- Polite “Hello”s And “Goodbye”s
- Positive Attitude
- Recognition Of Trends In Customer Feedback Or Concerns
- Responsibility For Personal Or Company Mistakes
- Timely Responses To Customer Inquiries
- Create the Perfect Customer Service Formula
Advocate For Customer Concerns
First, your customer service team should always be customer advocates. This is what sets great customer service apart from okay service. If you can’t immediately solve a problem, advocate for a solution. When a customer feels heard and valued, this alleviates any tension.
In reality, your customers just want to know you care. When you advocate for customer concerns, you show that you’re not treating them like a number on a support ticket. Whether you follow up later, escalate the issue, or create a new service to suit their needs, the customer will remember your efforts.
Assertive Approach To Conflict
Next, recognize that conflict will happen. It’s a part of business just as much as it’s a part of life. There’s no use dancing around it. When conflict does happen, be assertive. This means being assertive to solve the problem quickly. It also means not tolerating any harmful or destructive language.
It’s understandable that some customers lose their cool when frustrated. It happens to the best of us, and it’s okay. However, this should never cross professional boundaries and make your team feel offended or intimidated. If it does cross boundaries, be assertive and keep your cool.
Attention To Detail
Another important aspect of customer service conversations is maintaining your attention to detail. Customers don’t like to repeat themselves. This goes back to feeling heard. If a customer says they’ve already tried x, y, and z, don’t suggest they try x, y, and z later in the conversation.
In other words, pay attention to the small details. You can use these details to make sure your customers feel appreciated and heard. For example, if a customer says they love one of your products, you could share a customized ‘thank you,’ or a discount for a future purchase. This shows you really acknowledged their concerns and comments.
Calm Demeanor In Times Of Crisis
When things go wrong, it’s easy to lose all focus. You might feel like you need to react quickly or take immediate action. Instead, keep your cool. A calm demeanor not only puts your customer at ease but also helps you determine the right next steps.
Customers often act as mirrors. They mirror the emotions of your team. That means if you act stressed, so will they. On the other hand, if you’re cool, calm, and collected, they’ll follow your lead. This makes it easier for everyone to find the perfect compromise.
Clear Next Steps
Moreover, there should be no confusing next steps or directions. At the end of each customer service conversation, your customers should know exactly what to do next. Whether you want them to leave a review, check their email, or read a specific help guide, leave no room for confusion.
When you leave an interaction without clarity, the user just grows more frustrated. This is never fun for them, and they’re likely to look for an alternative provider who is more straightforward. Again, it’s about making things as easy as possible.
Consistency With Values And Policies
We’ve all experienced the frustration of talking to different service reps and hearing different answers. Your team should always have each other’s backs. This means if one team member gives a specific response, this should be the same response no matter who they talk to.
Being consistent also starts with leadership. Ensuring your team has all of the tools and protocols they need to handle these interactions is the foundation of good service.
Empathy For Customer Experiences
Once again, your customers just want to feel understood. A reported 90% of customers trust a company whose service they’ve rated as ‘very good’ to handle their needs. This means it’s your role to make sure you’re empathetic and understanding.
During these customer service conversations, it’s common for customers to share their experiences. Even if they’ve had a negative experience with the brand in the past, don’t get defensive. Instead, make sure they feel understood and valued.
Firm Rejection Of Abuse
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the customer is always right,’ but what happens when they’re not? In reality, the customer isn’t always right, and this phrase leads to more harm than good. Some customers cross boundaries into abuse, and this should never be tolerated.
Stick up for your team members in these situations. If a customer is crossing any set boundaries, make it clear this behavior will never be tolerated. While frustration happens, it does not need to escalate.
Flexibility For Special Circumstances
Next, in each customer service conversation, stay flexible. For example, if a customer speaks Spanish and everyone on your team only speaks English, do your best to adapt. Even if there’s a challenge (like a language barrier), you likely can find a way to serve them in some way.
Being flexible for special circumstances is a must. While having clear guidelines and rules is helpful, sometimes those rules are meant to be broken. Staying light on your feet is a necessity. Customer service often feels like the wild, wild west. Being ready for anything means you’re never caught off guard.
We’ve all heard half-hearted brand apologies. Things like ‘I’m sorry you feel that way…’ or ‘We’d like to apologize, but…’ have no place in service conversations. These are qualifiers, and they’re a way to deflect blame.
Even if it’s not your fault, accept accountability. It’s entirely possible to turn a mistake into an opportunity to do better. When you apologize and stay honest, you build real, genuine trust with your customers. Saying something like, ‘I”m sorry, that wasn’t right,’ is always better than playing the blame game.
Honest Replies To Unknown Questions
In addition, always give honest replies—even if you don’t know the answer. Though it’s tempting to give any answer than to say ‘I don’t know,’ you’re actually doing more harm than good. When you give the wrong answer, you inevitably frustrate your customers even more when they realize they’ve been misled.
Though it might sound strange, saying ‘I don’t know’ is better than giving the wrong answer. If you really don’t know, let them know you will take the time to find the right answer. Then do just that and follow up.
Humility And Relatability
Working in customer service isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like you get the same question repeatedly, and you might find yourself frustrated. These are completely normal reactions, but it’s essential to stay collected.
Customer service reps should never talk down to customers. No matter how trivial, make sure your customers feel their question is important. It’s your role to be the face of the brand, so make sure you’re always humble, friendly, and relatable.
Provide Options For Solutions To Customer Problems
As you’ll quickly learn in customer service, there is no one-size-fits-all. If possible, offer multiple solutions to customer problems. This gives them the power to choose what suits them best. For example, choosing between a refund or store credit (vs having no choice) puts the customer in a place of control.
We all like to feel in control over our money and purchases. When things go wrong, having the right solution goes a long way. Consider what options are a good remedy for your customer’s specific concern, and make sure they can choose for themselves.
Pauses For Customer Contribution
Though you might be tempted to handle customer concerns quickly, this is counterproductive. Give them the time (and space) to contribute to the conversation themselves. Don’t assume you know what they want to say or how they’re feeling. Give them the time to express themselves.
When you pause for customers, they have ample time to talk, share, and ask questions. Not only will you learn more about their needs, but you’ll be better equipped to help.
Nobody wants to feel like a number on a page. Always personalize messages with your customers, making each individual feel valued. This means using their name, when appropriate, and avoiding auto-generated messages.
While a script is a great tool, empower your team to use their own discretion. It’s not fun to feel like you’re talking to a computer. Make sure each interaction feels real, human, and authentic.
Polite “Hello”s And “Goodbye”s
While it’s true that people want their time to feel valued in customer support situations, you shouldn’t ignore greetings. Make sure you always say a polite hello and goodbye with each interaction. This makes the experience feel more genuine.
Better yet, it reminds the customer that they’re talking to a real human, not a computer. You can also ask about their day and how they’re doing. It’s always important to start with a polite tone, so don’t underestimate a simple ‘Hello, how are you?’
Similar to staying polite, always maintain a positive attitude. Again, customers often mirror support teams. If you’re approaching each conversation with negativity or hesitation, this is something your customers pick up on.
Conversely, if you’re open and positive, customers respond well to this. Staying positive and confident that you can handle any concern puts the customer at ease, making the entire conversation much easier.
Recognition Of Trends In Customer Feedback Or Concerns
Next, it’s always important to stay mindful of trends. If you get several back-to-back questions about the same thing, odds are you can do something to make this simpler. For example, if many customers are struggling to log in to your website, you might need to upgrade your log in page.
Taking the initiative to notice these trends in concerns and feedback goes a long way. Not only will you prevent future problems, but you’re being proactive to improve the customer experience.
Responsibility For Personal Or Company Mistakes
When things go wrong, it’s easy to blame someone else. This is especially true if you’re not directly responsible for something. It’s tempting to play the blame game and shift responsibility, but this is a dead-end street.
Instead, always take responsibility for personal or company mistakes. If something goes wrong, the customer doesn’t actually care who is responsible. They just want someone to take responsibility. By saying ‘I’m sorry that happened, we take full responsibility for this mistake,’ you build trust. More importantly, there is now clear space for solving the problem.
Timely Responses To Customer Inquiries
Last but not least, time is important. A reported 66% of adults said they need companies to value their time above all. This means making sure you have a process to respond to customer inquiries quickly.
In general, it’s best to respond within an hour, even if you just send a confirmation that their inquiry was received. Having an automated process for handling these inquiries goes a long way to speeding your response time.
Create the Perfect Customer Service Formula
Ultimately, as a customer-first company, you need to make sure you’re paying close attention to customer service conversations. Each interaction is a chance to make a positive impression, building a long-term, loyal relationship. With more competition each day, standing out is a must. Your service is a way to show that you’re the real deal when it comes to advocating for the customer.
These 20 things above are all necessary ingredients in the customer service formula. It’s all about creating a positive, seamless experience from the start. Even when things go wrong, you have a chance to turn the situation around in your favor. It’s time to unlock the potential of your customer service conversations.