golden rules

Top 10 Golden Rules of Customer Service

Implementing effective customer service strategies can set your business apart from the competition, inspire word-of-mouth marketing, and fuel your company’s growth. One approach is to establish consistent, high-quality communication with customers.

Colloquially, this has been referred to as setting “Golden Rules.” Or, in other words, fundamental principles or guidelines that are widely recognized and proven effective in ensuring a high quality of customer service.

The 10 example rules we present encompass critical aspects of excellent customer service, drawn from real-world best practices and the wisdom of industry leaders.

Let’s dive into these principles, address various facets of customer interaction, and look at some prime examples for each, including:

  • How to approach customers
    • Putting customers first
    • Empathizing with customers
    • Always using positive language
  • How to manage the customer process
    • Actively listening to customers
    • Communicating clearly
    • Being responsive 
    • Going the extra mile
  • Strategic elements of customer interaction
    • The importance of training your team
    • Constantly seeking feedback
    • Regular evaluation and iteration of customer engagement practices

1. The Customer Comes First

Remember: your business wouldn’t exist without your customers. Therefore, prioritizing their needs and expectations is a non-negotiable rule in the customer service playbook. Show your customers that they matter by delivering tailored services and solutions that address their specific needs.

Zappos is a well-known company that puts the customer first. They have a 30-day return policy and a no-questions-asked refund policy. They also have a culture of customer service that is focused on going the extra mile.

Learn more about Zappos from Harvard Business Review: “How I Did It: Zappos’s CEO on Going to Extremes for Customers

2. Listen Actively

Active listening is a powerful tool in customer service. It involves fully focusing, understanding, responding, and then remembering what is being said. By truly listening to your customers, you can more accurately identify their needs and find appropriate solutions to their problems.

Southwest Airlines is a company that is known for its active listening skills. Their customer service representatives are trained to listen carefully to customer concerns and to ask clarifying questions. This helps them to understand the customer’s issue and to find the best solution.

Learn more about Southwest Airlines from “Southwest Airlines: A Case Study in Great Customer Service

3. Communicate Clearly

Clear and concise communication minimizes confusion and enhances customer experience. Ensure that your customer service team can articulate responses effectively and explain solutions in a way that customers understand.

The Home Depot is a home improvement retailer that is based in the United States. They are known for their clear and concise communication, both in their stores and in their customer support. Their customer service representatives are trained to use simple language and to avoid jargon. They also make sure to communicate the next steps in the process so that customers know what to expect.

Learn more about The Home Depot from Media Shower: “How Home Depot’s Marketing Made It America’s #1 DIY Chain

4. Show Empathy

Empathy is about understanding and sharing the feelings of others. In customer service, it’s vital to empathize with customers’ issues and frustrations. When you display empathy, customers feel heard and validated, which can help diffuse negative situations and build rapport.

The Ritz-Carlton is a company that is known for its empathy. Their customer service representatives are trained to understand the customer’s emotional state and to respond in a way that is both respectful and compassionate.

Learn more about The Ritz-Carlton from Bloomberg: “How Ritz-Carlton Maintains its Mystique

5. Be Responsive

Prompt responses show your customers that you value their time. When customers contact your support, they usually need help immediately. By responding and resolving issues quickly, you can drastically improve customer satisfaction.

Netflix is a company that is known for its responsiveness. They have a 24/7 customer support team that is available to help customers with any problems they may have. They also have a very quick turnaround time for resolving issues.

Learn more about Netflix from Netomi: “5 Customer Support Strategies to Learn from Netflix

6. Go the Extra Mile

Stand out by exceeding customer expectations. This could be as simple as following up on a solved issue, personalizing your interactions, or offering a complimentary service. These small gestures can leave a lasting impression and make customers feel truly valued.

Nordstrom is a company that is known for going the extra mile. They have a policy of “no questions asked” returns, and they are always willing to do whatever it takes to make a customer happy.

Learn more about Nordstrom from Forbes: “What Any Business Can Learn From Nordstrom Customer Service.”

7. Use Positive Language

Language significantly influences a customer’s perception of your business. Using positive, affirming language can turn potential problems into opportunities for enhanced customer satisfaction.

Disney is a company that is known for using positive language. Their customer service representatives are trained to use words and phrases that create a positive and welcoming experience for customers.

Learn more about Disney from Hubspot: “How to Approach Customer Service Like Disney

8. Train and Equip Your Team

A well-trained team is the key to delivering excellent customer service. Regularly train your staff on best practices, equip them with the necessary resources, and foster a culture that values high-quality customer service.

Apple is a company that is known for training and equipping their team. Their customer service representatives are trained on the latest products and services, and they are also given the tools they need to be successful.

Learn more about Apple from Forbes: “Apple’s Secret Employee Training Manual Reinvents Customer Service in Seven Ways

9. Encourage Feedback

Encourage your customers to give feedback and make it easy for them to do so. Feedback, both positive and negative, provides valuable insight into what you’re doing well and areas where you could improve.

Starbucks is a company that encourages feedback. They have a system in place where customers can give feedback about their experience, and they use this feedback to improve their customer service.

Learn more about Starbucks from the National Business Research Institute: ”The Customer Experience – Spotlight on Starbucks

10. Consistently Evaluate and Improve

The customer service landscape is constantly changing. Regularly evaluate your customer service strategies and practices, then make necessary improvements. Stay abreast of emerging trends and adapt to meet the evolving needs of your customers.

Amazon is a company that consistently evaluates and improves their customer service. They use data and feedback to identify areas where they can improve and make changes to their processes accordingly.

Learn more about Amazon from Forbes: “How Jeff Bezos Consistently Communicates Four Core Values That Made Amazon A Success

Every interaction with a customer contributes to their overall experience with your brand. By following these 10 golden rules, you can ensure that each touchpoint builds a positive relationship with your customers, leading to improved customer satisfaction, increased loyalty, and ultimately, business growth. Remember, delivering outstanding customer service is an ongoing journey, not a destination.