1. Offer multiple support channels to your customers.
There is nothing worse for a customer than trying to reach out on a specific channel and finding that the company doesn’t offer it as an option. This could be chat, social media, email, carrier pigeon, anything. Just try to offer a few different channels so that there isn’t as much of a limitation for your customers. If you’re really going for the gold, invest in an omnichannel strategy.
2. Treat your customer support team members with respect.
If you don’t treat your team members with respect, how can you expect them to treat your customers with such? Your customer support team members are more than just people churning through the queue. They bring value to your team and to your customers. Treat them poorly, and they’ll do the same to your customers.
3. Allow your customer support team members time out of the queue to work on projects to better your customer experience.
Nobody knows about your customers’ experience better than your support team members. Given that, they also know what improvements could be made to make it better. Empower them to go and make the changes that impact and improve your customer experience—it’ll help them develop themselves, and also make for happier customers.
4. Get everyone in your company involved in the inbox and with your customer experience strategy.
Everyone brings a different perspective to their work. People on your product team will learn something different from customer conversations than people on your sales team would, for instance. Give everyone an opportunity to have conversations with your customers, and you’ll be able to make improvements to your experience that you might have missed otherwise.
5. Make sure that you are creating consistency amongst your team members’ responses.
Quality assurance is important. It doesn’t matter how you are doing it, but make sure that you’re reviewing your team member’s conversations to create consistency. Review saved replies, macros, and any ongoing conversations to ensure that everyone is answering in similar tones and answers. One excellent way to do this is to keep a group of curated and approved responses that your team members can use as their own TextExpander snippets.
6. Give your team members opportunities to learn.
Many people view a role on the support team as a stepping stone to other careers. If you’ve got excellent people on your team, you don’t want to lose them. Give them opportunities to learn new skills and they’ll continue to level up your team, and remain in support long-term. This could look like an educational budget, a library of helpful books, or even memberships to popular learning sites.
7. Never assume what your customers need.
It can be difficult to understand exactly what your customers want and mean sometimes. Never assume that you know what they are looking for. While it’s good to try to preemptively understand what your customers are doing before they have to explain, never make any assumptions and always back up your conclusions withwith evidence or by asking!
8. Confirm with your customers that you understand what they are saying (and vice versa!)
In every interaction, double-down and make sure that you confirm any of your ideas or thoughts with the customer before acting on them. Try adding “It sounds like you’re running into [X issue], but let me know if I’ve misunderstood.” to your TextExpander snippets and use it liberally. It’s always better to ask and be right than to not ask and be totally wrong.
9. Admit when your team is wrong.
One of the hardest things that we can do as humans is admitting that we are wrong. If you give the wrong answer to a customer or misunderstand them—admit it. It may be tempting to try to excuse away what you’ve done wrong, but the customer will know. It’s always better to be transparent and straightforward.
10. Actively listen to your customers.
Have you ever been listening to someone talk, assuming that you knew exactly where the conversation was going, and tried to add your opinions before they even finished their thought? That’s what a lot of support people try to do—especially when we’ve got a full queue to work through. We skim emails, we listen with one ear and type to another customer with the other. Take the time to actively listen and engage with each customer, and you’ll provide an experience that is truly delightful.
11. Always remember to follow-up.
It is tempting to send a response to a customer, mark the ticket as closed, and then, never respond if they don’t reply back. Don’t! Always remember to follow-up with customers, whether you’ve spoken with them one time or for multiple interactions. This can even be automated if you are able to run workflows in your helpdesk. Reopen tickets or send saved responses to everyone that you talk to, especially if no clear resolution has been achieved.
12. Make it easy for people to get in touch with you.
How many hoops do people have to jump through in order to get in contact with your support team? The correct answer is zero. People should not have to hunt around to be able to ask you about their troubles. Take as many possible hurdles out of the way as possible—if you can just make a single email available (no contact form, no nothing), then do it.
13. Give your team the right tools to do the job.
Who would you expect to do the job better: a lumberjack with a feather duster, or a lumberjack with an axe? You want your team to be the lumberjack with the axe. Empower them with all of the customer service tools that they could possibly need to do their job, and make sure they’re all in working order. Try to learn about new technologies as they come out, and implement them as they work for your team.
14. Offer quick replies to your customers even if it’s just to let them know you’re looking into it.
You don’t want your customers thinking that they’re emailing into a black hole. Even if you don’t have a direct response to their inquiry, be sure to respond and let them know that you’re looking into it. The same goes for if you’re escalating to another team: let the customer know what’s happening each step of the way. They’ll appreciate the over-communication.
15. Offer self-service support, such as documentation and webinars, for people who want it.
Dimension Data found that 73% of customers prefer to use a company’s website, instead of using social media, SMS, or live chat for support. Offering resources for people to be able to help themselves is one of the best things that you can do to improve the efficiency of your team. It boosts ticket deflection, meaning that fewer tickets are making their way to your inbox. It’s also many customers’ preferred way of getting help.
16. Understand your customers’ wants and needs.
Customer journey mapping is an excellent step towards a solid customer experience strategy—and towards boosting your customer service team’s efficacy. Use all of the tools at your disposal to understand your customers’ main drivers: what do they want to accomplish with your product, and how would they prefer to do it? When you know what they’re looking to do, you’ll be better able to guide them on how to do it.
17. Set clear expectations at the start of every interaction.
It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver than promise a customer something that you can’t do. Set expectations at the beginning of every interaction and at every opportunity afterward, and encourage members of other teams to do the same. Never say anything that you aren’t 100% positive you will be able to achieve.
18. Always end your conversations appropriately.
Along with following up with your customers, make sure that you are ending your conversations with an invitation to reach out again if they have other questions. Thank them for reaching out and for having a conversation with you, and let them know that you’ll be there if they have any other questions. With TextExpander, you can even have a folder of your favorite signoffs and have one be randomly selected for each email you close.
19. Keep a thumb on the pulse of your customer data.
You should always know where your KPIs around customer service and experience stand, and so should the members of your team. Regularly check and update your metrics to make sure you understand how your day-to-day customer service is impacting the key success markers for your team.
20. Stay away from negative language.
How bad does it feel to be told you “can’t” do something, or you “unfortunately” don’t have the tool to do the one thing you need to do? For some customers, it may even feel like a lie—as if the company is just choosing to not do something, even if they could. Try to stay away from language that has an overly negative tone, and instead, frame things as positively as you can.
21. Be honest and open and yourself with your customers.
Be honest with your customers about where you stand. If they ask for a phone call and you can’t provide it, give them the real reason why. If you agree with them that a certain feature request has value, even if you can’t offer the feature, let them know. The more honest and straightforward you are, the better it will be for your relationship with your customers.
22. Correct customers kindly if they are wrong.
Though they might like to believe they are, the customer is not always right. They’re not omniscient. They’re human. There will likely be a time when a customer says the wrong thing, misinforms you, or may even be aggressive in assuming that you’re in the wrong. When you correct them, do so gently and with poise. It’s important that they be appropriately informed as they move forward with your product, but you don’t need to make them feel bad for it.
23. Solve problems without needing to redirect your users.
Only 20% of businesses are able to solve customer service issues in their first response. Add to that the number of customers that need to be redirected due to their issue being too specialized, and the number drops even lower. Provide your support team with enough context to handle situations without needing to redirect your customers.
24. Hire people that are passionate about other people.
Don’t just hire warm bodies to fill up your support team, even if you are desperate. Hire people that care deeply about other people. During the interview process, ask about their customer focus, and about things that they’ve done to improve a customer’s experience. Just because someone’s good at writing emails and has a pulse doesn’t mean that they will be an excellent customer service person.
25. Focus on the resolution.
As soon as a ticket comes in, try to figure out how it’s going to be resolved. What are the pieces of information that you need from a customer to get it done, and what are the things that you’ll need to troubleshoot? Extra bonus: figure out how you can automate getting the information from the customer before the interaction even starts so that you can get right to work without any back and forth.
26. Empower your team to go the extra mile as needed.
The Ritz-Carlton empowers employees to use $2000 per customer per stay to create an excellent customer experience without asking. What are you doing to empower your customer service team members to go the extra mile? Put policies in place that allow them to freely assist customers in ways that make sense and empower them to do the right thing in the moment. No red tape.
27. Let your team be counselors rather than focusing on upselling.
You have other teams within your company far more skilled at upselling than your customer service team. Let the sales team stick to sales, and your service team focus on coaching your customer and counseling on best practices. That way, your customers will have more trust in your service team—rather than expect them to always deliver a sales pitch.
28. Always be working on career development and internal training.
Don’t let your team think that a career in customer support is only responding to customers. Work on developing career paths and internal professional development tools to help them grow stronger and better. You’ll keep people in support and continue to level up your customer service game.
29. Use your customers’ feedback.
It’s all well and good to read your customers’ feedback, but if you don’t share it with others and put it to use, what’s the point? Make sure to actually apply customer feedback when and where you can—it will make the product better, and also create a deeper tie with your customers.
30. Build relationships rather than transactions.
No one wants to be viewed as a number. Take the time to create relationships with customers rather than just see the dollar signs behind their accounts. If someone reaches out to you once and the next time they reach out you still remember them, it will make a huge impact. Try to keep the humanity in your service.
31. Think proactively.
Always try to be two steps ahead of your customer. If they contact you about a certain feature, for instance, answer their questions about the feature, and then supply information about the next few features that they may want to use. Giving them this information ahead of time seems like a magic trick and will always make it easier on your support team later on— which means fewer tickets!
Customer Service Tips to Help Your Team Thrive
Customer service isn’t rocket science, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy. Take these 31 tips and apply them to your customer service strategy and you’ll drive both customer delight and team efficiency as you do. Remember: in all things, keep humanity in mind. Your customers want to talk to humans, and not support robots. So, if one of these strategies doesn’t work for your team, take what does and leave the rest.