Customer service is always evolving in today’s world. As more brands continue to change the status quo, it’s never been more important to understand how your business can leverage customer service to stand out. Just about everything today is customer-driven. Customers have more choices than ever in just about every industry. This is why you need to pay close attention to the right customer service tips.
Thanks to digital and communication technologies, customer service engagement is at an all-time high. From social media to chatbots, everyone is willing and able to share their perspectives with their own circles and beyond. In addition, younger generations like millennials and gen-z are placing even higher demands on customer service above all.
Customer service, as a whole, is on an upward trajectory. A reported 67% of people believe customer service as a whole is improving. Still, 52% of people globally think companies need to take feedback seriously. This means driving real action and change based on the top customer service tips.
The top industry leaders today know that there’s no substitute for excellent service. If you want to build real superfans, you need to be dialed into your customers’ expectations so you can continue to exceed them. We can all relate to the frustration of dealing with a business that doesn’t have a grip on its service. In this guide, we’ll highlight the 8 customer service tips every business needs to know to succeed in 2022 and beyond.
- 1. Always put your customers first.
- 2. Use positive language in each interaction.
- 3. Slow down to handle each concern with care.
- 4. Be proactive to customers’ needs.
- 5. Be transparent with your business.
- 6. Give your team the power to solve problems.
- 7. Make it easy for customers to help themselves.
- 8. Create a strong customer loyalty program.
1. Always put your customers first.
To begin, you need to be a customer-first business. This means you’re always solving for the needs of your customer—not your own. When companies put themselves in their customers’ shoes, they have a deeper understanding of their needs and how to solve their problems.
The worst thing you can do is to treat your customers like a number on a sales screen. This is tempting, especially with today’s automated tools for managing customer interactions. While you should try to handle each concern quickly and efficiently, don’t ever compromise on making sure each customer feels heard and understood. Most of all, customers want to know you’re on their side.
The heart of building a customer-first business isn’t in some magic formula or watching the competition. It’s simpler than you think. When you listen and communicate, you gain a leg up over the competition. Active listening might sound simple (because it is), yet it’s something so many teams leave on the backburner. Instead of assuming you know best, talk to your customers to find a level playing field. You might be surprised just how much you learn.
How to put the customer first:
- Use their first name and be personalized in interactions.
- Follow up with concerns, making sure each customer feels heard and appreciated.
- Practice empathy not just amongst customer service members, but among your entire team.
2. Use positive language in each interaction.
Speaking of communication, language matters. Words carry a lot of meaning, and the way we use them really adds up to a big impression. One of the most underutilized customer service tips every business should know is the importance of positive language. When you have a positive tone and vocabulary for your team to use, it’s much easier to steer a conversation with a customer towards a resolution.
Not only does this prevent escalating issues with customers, but it helps them feel appreciated. They want to know that support teams are taking their problems seriously, no matter how small. Each team member should know how to demonstrate confidence with each issue, even if they sense the customer’s frustration.
How do you use positive language? This doesn’t always come easily, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Always do your best to avoid words that are usually seen as negative like “can’t,” “don’t,” or “won’t.” For example, saying “I don’t know how to do that” or “I can’t do it” sends a negative message. More importantly, it shows that you don’t really care. Instead, focus on solutions, listening, and finding a resolution.
How to use positive language:
- Skip uncertain and negative phrases like “I don’t know” or “maybe.” Even if you don’t know something, you can still approach the situation positively.
- When you’re unsure, offer to follow up. (Ie. “That’s a great question! I’ll find that out for you.”
- Remember, customers shouldn’t “need” to do things entirely on their own. Switching this “you” language to “we” can make your customer feel like part of the solution.
3. Slow down to handle each concern with care.
Another important tip is to remember to slow down. Yes, time is of the essence when handling customer concerns. Nobody wants to be strung along through multiple hoops that take forever. Anyone who’s ever called their cable or internet provider knows how annoying this can be. However, there’s something even more annoying: not solving the problem correctly the first time.
If you’re in such a rush to jump on the next call that you forget to ask critical questions, you could run into a mistake. You might waste more time in the meantime by jumping to the wrong conclusions. Worst of all, the customer might not find the resolution he or she is looking for. When you slow down to take the time to treat each customer as an individual, you build a real connection.
Great customer service isn’t necessarily the fastest. It’s the most effective. Your goal is always to solve the customer’s problem the first time. If the customer has to jump back on a support call later or continues to be frustrated, they’re likely to skip to a competitor in the future. Why would they keep trying to work with a brand that’s not helping?
How to slow down:
- Build a rapport with each customer when appropriate.
- Ask targeted, key questions to make sure you really understand the customer’s problem.
- When in doubt, ask. (ie. “So I understand you’re struggling with…?”
4. Be proactive to customers’ needs.
Fourth, the best customer service interactions are ones that are proactive vs. reactive. Today, it’s no longer enough to provide okay customer service. It’s honestly not even enough to provide great service. You need to be outstanding. This means anticipating customer support needs when you can.
No, you don’t need a time machine to see into the future. Rather, look for the next problem you can solve (vs. what you can sell). Your existing customers are more likely to be your future customers. It’s true that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost your profits by over 25%. This is because your existing customers are more likely to stay loyal as long as you provide a meaningful customer experience.
Beyond this, don’t guess what customers might want in the future. Create opportunities for two-way conversations. When customers share what they’re looking for or new problems, you have even more opportunities for growth. For example, if you have many of the same simple customer questions time and time again, it might be time to invest in a self-service portal. These simple changes make a world of difference.
How to be proactive:
- Create simple ways for customers to share their ideas, like through social media, surveys, and so on.
- Analyze patterns with your existing customers. Do any concerns pop up frequently?
- Keep lines of communication with your best customers open. Your superfans are already invested in your success!
5. Be transparent with your business.
Another important aspect of customer service today has to do with transparency. In simple terms, transparency builds trust. Your customers are people just like you. They want to be seen as humans, not just numbers on a sales page. If you treat them with respect, even when things go wrong, they’re more likely to continue supporting your brand.
Brand transparency is so much more than a buzzword. It’s when a business is open and accessible to customers, stakeholders, and even employees. That’s right, transparency starts from within. Everyone should be on the same page about values, goals, and intentions. When your employees trust your brand, so do customers.
Once trust is earned, it’s easy to keep. A reported 62% of customers say they’ll stay loyal to brands that have earned their trust. Still, don’t expect this to come easily. It takes time and continued patience to demonstrate that you really mean to hold yourself accountable as a company.
How to be transparent:
- Understand your business’s core values so all employees can follow them.
- Don’t hesitate to share important information about pricing, updates, new systems, and so on with your team.
- Be transparent about pricing, as well as your failures and successes.
6. Give your team the power to solve problems.
Next, you need to trust your employees to lead with their best judgment. When customer service agents are unable to solve problems themselves, this is frustrating for both parties. On the other hand, when service agents can go above and beyond based on their judgment, this frees them to truly solve problems.
Too many brands hold employees back with restrictions and regulations. Not only does this increase training costs, but it decreases the overall productivity. If you let your team go the extra mile when appropriate, this really pays off in the long run. Giving your team the ability to issue refunds, credits, or returns, as well as take additional steps, makes all the difference.
One prime example of this in the real world is the Walt Disney Resort. Each employee is given ample freedom to create magical moments for guests, especially when these turn a negative situation around. As seen on the #CastCompliments hashtag, these small actions create lifetime supporters around the brand.
How to empower your team:
- As a leader, be open to new ideas and better ways of doing things.
- Reinforce positive, successful behavior through acknowledgment, recognition, and even awards.
- Open lines of communication for feedback both ways.
7. Make it easy for customers to help themselves.
Additionally, customer self-service is becoming the new normal. Most people would prefer not to deal with support staff if they can avoid it. Customer self-service is when you make it easy for customers to solve their own problems rather than work with a service representative. Faster and often more reliable, self-service frees your support team for more challenging problems.
There are a lot of different ways to provide self-service tools for your customers:
- Knowledge base: A knowledge base is an area of your website that answers common problems and questions. This could be a FAQ, tutorial page, or concern category.
- Training: Including training in how to use your product or service as part of your onboarding can also cut down on service requests.
- Automation: AI tools like chatbots can often handle simple service requests without having to involve any actual humans.
- Guides: Lastly, how-to guides, video walkthroughs, and tutorials are always useful for low-level concerns.
Today, a reported 89% of US consumers expect companies to already have some type of self-service option online. With most of your customers already trying to solve issues on their own before involving a representative, you want to make this as easy as possible. When customers can find what they’re looking for quickly, this is a positive brand touchpoint.
How to create self-service tools:
- Ask service staff about what customer concerns appear again and again.
- Create a help section of your website or platform that’s easy to use.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback about your onboarding experience.
8. Create a strong customer loyalty program.
Last but not least, customer loyalty programs have come a long way. These are a resource for businesses of all shapes and sizes, and they are a powerful way to leverage referrals and repeat business. Not only do loyalty programs spike your customer retention, but they also drive your lifetime value.
Loyalty programs make customers feel appreciated. When paired with strong customer service that takes loyalty into account, you have the recipe for an outstanding customer experience. Most importantly, these are a way to build engagement long-term. Sustainable, future-proof businesses are those that aren’t afraid to give their all to the customer experience.
Ultimately, your goal is to create strong brand advocates. This list of customer service tips is important, but you won’t get far if you don’t know how to hold onto the customers you have. Your most engaged customers are far more likely to refer new ones, share their passion with others, and widen your overall customer base.
How to build loyalty:
- Include upsells and discounts for customers who make repeat purchases.
- Offer referral incentives for those who bring in new customers.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews on public platforms and social media.
Now, you know everything you need to do to provide top-tier customer service at every step of the customer journey. Poor customer service continues to cost today’s top brands billions every year. You might be leaving money on the table that you don’t even realize. Whether you’re a solopreneur or you’re managing a team of service staff, it’s always important to revisit your existing strategy.
Without these customer service tips, your retention and revenue are at risk. While these tips take time to put into practice, they have the power to reshape your customer experience outlook. With that in mind, it’s time to get started. To kick your customer service into high gear, snag a free copy of The Superfan W.A.V.E. ebook This winning strategy helps your team create repeat customers while focusing on service.