The 6 Most Important Components of Your Customer Service Strategy

A customer service strategy is a detailed plan aimed at delighting your customers – just like a map that guides you down the road that leads to keeping your customers happy. 

1. A Company-Wide MissionFocus on customer happiness across the entire organization. Encourage all teams, including those not directly interacting with clients like engineers or designers, to work regularly in the support queue to understand customer issues and develop empathy.
2. A Recruitment Process to Hire The Right PeopleHire people with the right skills for high customer service standards. Essential soft skills include a positive attitude, empathy, responsibility, and good listening skills. Tailor the recruitment process to meet the company’s and customers’ needs.
3. A Commitment to Ongoing TrainingProvide continuous training and professional development opportunities for the support team. This includes onboarding, attending conferences, reading relevant materials, and online courses. Implement a training budget and encourage learning during work hours.
4. A Customer Service PolicyDevelop a clear customer support policy to ensure consistency in service. Document workflows and policies for easy reference, enabling employees to make informed decisions within the framework.
5. A Focus on Empowering Your TeamEmpower the team by documenting a framework that gives them the authority to solve issues independently, like offering discounts without higher-up approval. Keep employees engaged and satisfied, as their happiness translates to better customer service.
6. An Effective Feedback LoopEstablish a feedback loop from both customers and employees. Use surveys, polls, and social media for customer feedback, and communicate with the support team for insights on customer interactions. Analyze this feedback to identify gaps and improve the customer service strategy.

You can make sure your strategy leads to great customer support by covering the right elements.  

What are customer service strategies?

Customer service strategies refer to the plans and methods a business employs to handle customer interactions, aiming to enhance their experience and satisfaction with the company’s products or services. These strategies are crucial for building strong customer relationships, ensuring customer loyalty, and fostering a positive brand reputation.

A thorough strategy helps you consistently provide outstanding service whenever a customer interacts with your business. When you’ve documented your company’s strategy, it makes decision-making a lot easier. For each big question, you can turn to your service philosophy and say, “Does this fit with our goals?”

Solid customer service is critical to your company’s long-term success. “Customer service is the new marketing,” says Derek Sivers, Founder of CD Baby. A significant reason to invest in customer support – just like you would in marketing – is that delighting customers pays off. Increasing customer retention by just 5% can lead to an increase in revenue of as much as 95%

What are the 6 components of a customer service program?

A customer care strategy is most effective when it contains several critical components. Here’s a look at what your customer service strategy should include:

  1. A Company-Wide Mission
  2. A Recruitment Process to Hire The Right People 
  3. A Commitment to Ongoing Training
  4. A Customer Service Policy
  5. A Focus on Empowering Your Team
  6. An Effective Feedback Loop

1. A Company-Wide Mission   

You can’t develop a strategy that delivers good customer support if your company’s mission doesn’t focus on customer happiness.  A winning customer service strategy is the result of a customer-centric approach across the entire organization.

While that probably makes a lot of sense for the customer reps in your call center, it can sound a little more ambiguous for other teams or departments. For example, what does “delivering great customer service” mean to an engineer or a designer? Since an engineer is probably not in direct contact with clients, the customer’s needs and issues can potentially fall much farther away from their day-to-day work.

In practice, you can improve this by having all teams work regularly in the support queue. Not only will they have to learn empathy for the role of customer support rep, but also they’ll see first hand what the common issues and complaints from customers are. 

When your company’s mission puts the satisfaction of your customer front and center, it’s easier for each team to deliver solutions with the customer in mind. 

2. A Recruitment Process to Hire The Right People 

People are a big part of your customer service strategy. In most cases, or at least when things get a little complicated, your customers will be interacting with a human. They’ll have questions, complaints, or requests and they’ll want to feel heard and understood – and ultimately, they’ll want a solution. 

However, not every candidate out there is able to deliver the highest customer service standards. Make sure your support agents have the skills they’ll need to be successful at their job before you hire them. 

Understand what your customers need to be successful, and distill that into a recruitment process that works for your company’s needs. Some common soft skills that are essential to support agents are:

  • Positive Attitude: Ideally, you want people that are optimistic and friendly even when dealing with challenging tasks or difficult customers.
  • Empathy and social skills: Being able to recognize and understand the emotions another person is feeling as well as caring about others. 
  • Taking Responsibility: Good support agents feel accountable to their customers. Not just that, they’re proactive and take pride in finding solutions to problems, no matter what it is or who’s to blame. 
  • Listening Skills: Only if you truly listen to your customers will you know exactly what they need and how you can solve their problem. 

3. A Commitment to Ongoing Training 

Your customer support team won’t give good customer service unless they have the right tools and the ability to use them. This includes having an onboarding process in place to ensure all new hires finish their first days feeling confident. 

Training should be part of your strategy because it means the customers get better service, but it also provides agents with a career path and professional development. Encourage your team to go to conferences, read articles on customer support, or take online courses to brush up their technical skills. Show your employees that you care by having a training budget in place and allowing them to learn something during work hours. 

4. A Customer Service Policy

Having a customer support policy as part of your strategy is an important step to providing consistently great customer support. It means taking the time to compile everything that relates to supporting your customer so your team has a place to reference policies and workflows.

Documenting your customer support workflows will provide consistency across the board while also helping your employees to make the decision they consider best within the given framework. 

Your customer service policy doesn’t need to be overly complicated or hundreds of pages long. Even a simple one will help you and your employees do better work. 

5. A Focus on Empowering Your Team 

When you trust your team’s ability to do their job, you’re essentially giving them the power (and freedom) to find the solution your customer needs. Empowering teams as part of your strategy means documenting a framework that gives employees the amount of authority they need to solve an issue.

For example, does every rep have enough autonomy to choose when they can offer someone a discount after a bad experience without having to ask for permission from a higher-up? 

Don’t forget the importance of keeping your employees happy. According to Gallup in “The State of the American Workplace,” employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, with a resulting 20% increase in sales. Satisfied employees make for a satisfied customer and overall, a favorable relationship. Make sure you treat your employees with the same care and attention you would treat your customers with! 

6. An Effective Feedback Loop

A customer service strategy that works sources a lot of its ideas from feedback: both from your customers and your employees. A steady feedback loop will help you improve over time.  

Feedback to improve your customer service strategy will typically come from two sources: 

  • Feedback from your customers to your support agents
  • Data from your support reps who are in charge of implementing the customer service strategy on a daily basis 

You can listen to your customers to find out if they are satisfied using surveys or polls or even listening for customer feedback on social media.  Measuring customer satisfaction should be an important part of your customer service strategy. Speaking to your customer service team about the problems customers have when interacting with your product is another great way to improve it. All of this feedback can help you identify gaps in your current strategy. 

For example, you might find out through a conversation with your support team that customers also need support during the weekend. By further analyzing incoming traffic each day, you can use these insights to amend and improve your strategy, like hiring more people to extend your support beyond weekdays. 

A means for customer service success 

While no two businesses are exactly alike, their customer service strategies have something in common: They work to empower their employees. They have a customer-first approach. And, they ensure they adapt the framework regularly. 

There’s no point in spending time developing a customer service strategy if you’re going to save it in a folder and never look at it again. The best strategies are living documents – customer satisfaction is a moving target, after all. Make sure you update yours as you collect new insights.

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Frequently asked questions about customer service strategy

What are the five 5 core principles of a successful customer service strategy?

The five core principles of a successful customer service strategy are fundamental guidelines that shape how a business interacts with its customers. These principles aim to create a positive and memorable customer experience, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. Here they are:

  1. Customer-Centricity: This principle involves putting the customer at the heart of every decision and action. It means understanding and prioritizing the needs, expectations, and preferences of the customer. A customer-centric approach involves tailoring services and interactions to meet individual customer needs and consistently seeking feedback to improve the customer experience.
  2. Clear Communication: Effective communication is key to successful customer service. This includes not only how you speak or write to customers but also how you listen to them. Clear, concise, and transparent communication helps in setting realistic expectations and reducing misunderstandings. It also involves being open and honest about products, services, and policies.
  3. Empathy and Understanding: Empathy involves putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and understanding their perspective. It’s about showing genuine care and concern for the issues customers face and addressing them with sensitivity. Empathetic customer service builds trust and strong emotional connections with customers.
  4. Responsiveness and Accessibility: Customers value prompt responses to their inquiries and problems. A successful customer service strategy ensures quick and efficient responses across all channels, whether it’s phone, email, social media, or in-person interactions. Accessibility also means making it easy for customers to get in touch, providing multiple channels for support, and ensuring those channels are staffed adequately.
  5. Continuous Improvement and Adaptability: The needs and expectations of customers evolve over time, and so should customer service strategies. This principle involves regularly gathering and analyzing customer feedback, staying abreast of market trends, and being willing to make changes to improve the customer experience. It also encompasses training staff continuously to adapt to new technologies, policies, and customer expectations.

By adhering to these principles, businesses can create a strong foundation for a customer service strategy that not only resolves issues but also builds loyalty and advocacy among their customer base.

What are the 7 guidelines for creating a customer service strategy?

Creating a successful customer service strategy involves several key guidelines to ensure that the strategy is effective, customer-focused, and adaptable. Here are seven essential guidelines for creating such a strategy:

  1. Understand Your Customer: Know your customers’ needs, preferences, and expectations. This can involve conducting market research, analyzing customer feedback, and understanding customer behavior. A deep understanding of your customer base allows you to tailor your service to meet their specific needs.
  2. Set Clear Service Standards: Establish clear, measurable standards for customer service. These standards should outline the expected level of service, response times, and the quality of customer interactions. Ensure these standards are communicated and understood by all team members.
  3. Empower and Train Your Team: Equip your customer service team with the necessary skills, knowledge, and authority to handle customer inquiries and issues effectively. Regular training and development opportunities can help keep your team updated with the latest customer service practices and technologies.
  4. Leverage Technology: Utilize appropriate technology to enhance the customer service experience. This can include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, chatbots, self-service portals, and social media platforms. Technology can help streamline processes, provide valuable data, and facilitate better customer interactions.
  5. Foster a Customer-Centric Culture: Cultivate a company culture that prioritizes customer satisfaction. This involves integrating customer service into all aspects of your business and ensuring that every employee understands the role they play in delivering excellent service.
  6. Gather and Act on Customer Feedback: Regularly collect feedback from your customers through surveys, social media, and direct communication. Analyze this feedback to identify areas for improvement and act on it to refine your customer service strategy continuously.
  7. Monitor and Evaluate Performance: Regularly review the performance of your customer service strategy against the set standards. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer satisfaction scores, response times, and resolution rates to assess the effectiveness of your strategy and make necessary adjustments.

Implementing these guidelines can help you develop a robust customer service strategy that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations, leading to increased customer loyalty and a stronger brand reputation.

What are the 4 P’s that improve customer service?

The “4 P’s” that improve customer service are a set of principles designed to enhance the quality and effectiveness of customer interactions. These principles are:

  1. Promptness: This refers to the speed with which customer service requests are addressed. Prompt responses to customer inquiries, complaints, or issues are crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction. This involves not only the initial response but also the entire process of resolving the customer’s problem. A prompt service shows customers that their time is valued and their concerns are taken seriously.
  2. Politeness: Politeness in customer service is about treating customers with respect, courtesy, and kindness. This includes using polite language, showing empathy, and maintaining a positive and friendly tone, even in challenging situations. Polite interactions can greatly enhance the customer’s experience, contributing to a more favorable perception of the company.
  3. Professionalism: Professionalism involves handling all customer interactions with a high level of expertise and competence. This includes having a thorough knowledge of the company’s products or services, being able to provide accurate and helpful information, and maintaining a professional demeanor at all times. Professionalism also entails respecting customer privacy and handling sensitive information appropriately.
  4. Personalization: Personalizing customer service means treating each customer as an individual with unique needs and preferences. This can involve addressing customers by name, remembering their past interactions or preferences, and tailoring solutions to their specific situations. Personalization shows customers that they are valued and not just another number, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.

By focusing on these 4 P’s, businesses can significantly enhance the quality of their customer service, leading to improved customer satisfaction, loyalty, and a stronger overall brand reputation.

What makes a strong customer service strategy?

A strong customer service strategy is essential for any business looking to maintain high customer satisfaction, build loyalty, and foster a positive reputation. The key elements that make a customer service strategy strong include:

  1. Customer-Centric Approach: The strategy should be designed around the customer’s needs and expectations. Understanding the customer’s perspective is crucial. This involves listening to their feedback, understanding their pain points, and tailoring the service to meet their specific needs.
  2. Clear Communication: Effective communication is vital. This includes not only how customer service representatives communicate with customers but also how they communicate internally. Clear, concise, and honest communication helps in setting the right expectations and solving issues more efficiently.
  3. Well-Trained Staff: The customer service team should be knowledgeable, skilled, and equipped with the necessary tools to provide excellent service. Ongoing training and development are essential to keep the team updated with the latest in product knowledge, technology, and customer service techniques.
  4. Accessibility and Responsiveness: Customers should be able to reach the business through multiple channels such as phone, email, social media, and chat, and receive timely responses. Quick and efficient resolution of issues is a key component of a strong customer service strategy.
  5. Empathy and Personalization: Showing empathy and understanding the customer’s situation helps in building a connection. Personalizing interactions can make customers feel valued and enhance their overall experience with the brand.
  6. Feedback and Continuous Improvement: Regularly collecting and analyzing customer feedback is crucial for understanding how the service can be improved. This feedback should be used to make continuous improvements in service strategies and processes.
  7. Adaptability and Flexibility: The ability to adapt to new trends, technologies, and changing customer expectations is vital for a strong customer service strategy. Flexibility in handling customer issues and being open to change can significantly improve the quality of service.
  8. Measurable Objectives and KPIs: Setting clear, measurable objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) helps in evaluating the effectiveness of the customer service strategy. Regularly reviewing these metrics guides necessary adjustments and improvements.
  9. Consistency in Service Delivery: Providing consistent service across all channels and touchpoints builds trust and reliability in the brand.
  10. Proactive Problem Solving: Anticipating potential issues and addressing them proactively can greatly enhance customer satisfaction and reduce the volume of customer complaints.

A strong customer service strategy is dynamic and evolves with customer expectations and business objectives. It is rooted in a deep understanding of the customer and is focused on creating a positive, lasting relationship with them.