It’s no secret that the quality of your customer service can make or break the success of your company’s product or service offering. Long-term customer retention is about building trust and providing your customers with what they want. The rise of technology has enabled a number of new capabilities such as omni-channel customer support, self-service knowledge bases, and customer portals. It is now possible for customers to access service when they want and using the method that they prefer.
Managing a support staff, online presence, and product quality are all critical for every brand, and the cost of poor service remains high. In a recent survey from American Express, more than half of Americans indicated that they stopped a planned purchase due to a negative service experience, and 33% reported that they would think about switching to a competitor after only a single instance of poor service.
We’ve curated a list of 101 expert customer service tips to help you implement customer service best practices and improve your customer service processes. These expert tips will help you develop your skills, grow your team, and achieve world-class customer service performance. The tips below are grouped in five categories, including:
- Customer Service Training Tips
- Tips for Dealing with Difficult Customers
- Tips for Improving Customer Service with Technology
- Interpersonal Communication Tips to Improve Customer Service
- Customer Service Best Practices
Read on to learn about valuable customer service best practices that can help your organization succeed.
Customer Service Training Tips
1. Connect training to real life work.
“Corporate training is crucial both for businesses and their staff, but almost half of employees consider their current internal training not relevant to their daily responsibilities. Let’s see how not to slip into such pitfalls. Relevant learning means that the subject matter and content presented to employees resonate with them, and the knowledge and skills they gain can help them in their daily work.” – Helen Colman, 5 Master Tips for Creating Customer Service Training Courses, iSpring; Twitter: @iSpringPro
2. Share customer feedback across all departments.
“It’s not enough to just have your frontline employees collect customer feedback, analyze and respond to it. That kind of info must be shared with all employee departments – including management. After all, if the main customer complaints are related to a problem that can only be solved if management gives the product development team the go-ahead to work on it, you will never address the customers’ needs if you don’t escalate the feedback to the higher-ups in the company.” – 19 Great Customer Service Tips To Improve Your Customer Satisfaction, Retently; Twitter: @Retently
3. Share a clear process for handling incoming customer inquiries.
“What do you do when you get a customer service inquiry? Who answers it? How do you decide who answers it? How is it prioritized over other inquiries? Is it prioritized at all? These are all questions that can be answered by establishing a process to ensure that once an inquiry arrives in your queue, everyone on the customer service team knows how to handle it promptly and quickly.” – Ford Blakely, How to Improve Your Customer Service Response Times, CustomerThink; Twitter: @customerthink
4. Remind staff to thank customers on a regular basis.
“In order to avoid losing them, the simplest thing you can do to make a customer feel valued is to continually thank them for being part of your community. Through email communications, social messages, and handwritten notes, you can remind customers that you are aware of their business and appreciate it.” – Alex McEachern, Why You Should Always Be Thanking Customers, Smile.io; Twitter: @smilerewards
5. Provide staff with detailed product information.
“To provide good customer service, you need to know what you're selling, inside and out. Make sure you and your customer-facing staff know how your products or services work. Be aware of the most common questions customers ask and know how to articulate the answers that will leave them satisfied.” – Alyssa Gregory, 9 Tips for Providing Excellent Customer Service, The Balance; Twitter: @thebalance
6. Emphasize body language for customer-facing roles.
“Unlike someone working a call center, your FOH staff will deal with customer problems in person. This means nonverbal communication is more important than ever. Be sure to include training on body language so your employees can use tricks such as mimicking customer posture in order to make the customer feel more comfortable.” – 6 Tips for Customer Service Training for Non-Customer Service Professionals, Mimeo; Twitter: @Mimeo
7. Keep your customer service reps engaged.
“You can have the best customer service skills and the best training in the world, but if your reps are checked out, it won’t matter at all. Improving employee engagement is another way to make sure customers have a great experience. Dissatisfied employees are unlikely to come forward with their problems, so consider an anonymous suggestion box or an employee engagement survey to see what makes your employees tick.” – 6 keys to improving your team’s customer service skills, SurveyMonkey; Twitter: @SurveyMonkey
8. Utilize the concept of caring in your training.
“Make sure your customer service training includes the simple concept of ‘caring.’ Nothing creates satisfied clients and produces long-term customers better than an organization full of employees who truly care about their customers and show it.” – Paul O’Keefe, 10 Customer Service Training Tips Your Employees Need To Learn, Edge Training Systems
9. Contact center micro-coaching can boost performance.
“Micro-coaching is coaching that happens in short bursts: a supervisor coaching an individual agent on the spot following a specific customer interaction. And it’s far more effective than old-school contact center training methods. In fact, contact center micro-coaching can improve team performance by as much as 12%—while overreliance on old-school training sessions can actually drive team performance down by 5%.” – Contact Center Micro-Coaching: A Proven Approach to Performance Management, Stella Connect; Twitter: @stellaconnect
10. Actively solicit employee feedback.
“Your advocates won’t take action unless you engage them. When you actively solicit feedback, it empowers your employees and sends a clear signal that you’re willing to work on you, too. To help your employees succeed, you need to understand what they deal with on a daily basis. Asking the right questions will give you valuable insights for improving sales and building brand advocacy.” – Kristin Eriksen, Customer Service Training Ideas to Help Build Brand Advocacy, Shep Hyken; Twitter: @Hyken
11. Provide special training in times of crisis.
“In the event of a recall, crisis, or company emergency, your customer service team should be updated on all events and trained on how they can respond. Full transparency is encouraged here, given that your team will be dealing with the public’s response first-hand. Make these trainings a priority on everyone’s calendar and try to have your team trained all at once — this will keep everyone aligned.” – Allie Decker, The Ultimate Guide to Training for Customer Service & Support, HubSpot; Twitter: @HubSpot
12. Make sure that employees know their limits.
“Your employees need to know your policies and practices with regard to satisfying customers and responding to complaints. The more flexibility you’re able to offer and the more clearly you communicate these guidelines, the better able employees will be to meet customer needs. Customers benefit, too, when employees are able to resolve situations “on the spot” instead of having to “talk to my manager.” – Linda Pophal, Ten Tips for Effective Customer Service Training, Customer Service Manager Magazine
13. Provide ongoing development opportunities such as lunch and learns.
“Hold monthly luncheons where you give seasoned CSRs a chance to present to other members of the staff. That lets you take advantage of the expertise of seasoned CSRs that have been built up over the years. Shared learning also teaches your team to become adept at solving problems and increases their knowledge.” – 7 Proven & Super Easy Tips for Training Customer Service Staff, Unicom; Twitter: @unicomcorp
14. Allow employees to show off their know-how.
“Once your customer service training program is done, try to do everything you can to empower your employees to execute what they have learned. Look for evidence that your customer service training program is working—that can help keep you focused on continuing the progress your company is making.” – Geoff Williams, 6 Tips to Help Raise Customer Service Training Programs' Effectiveness, American Express; Twitter: @askamex
15. Define proper phone etiquette for your staff.
“Even with the advances in technology, people prefer speaking with a live person to get answers or support. Businesses should not overlook how and who is answering phone calls. Poor phone etiquette at work could harm the business. Technology allows people to share their experiences quickly with incredible reach. Especially when they use social media and other tools on the internet. For this reason, every phone interaction is critical.” – 7 Fundamentals of Professional Phone Etiquette, Unicom; Twitter: @unicomcorp
16. Show your employees what quality customer service looks like.
“Your staff need to know what good customer service looks like, so that could mean you show them some other members of staff in action and the way they’re handling customers, or getting out on the shop floor yourself so they get a firsthand look at what they’re expected to do, such as greeting customers with a smile and how to handle enquiries.” – How to train staff on good customer service: Tips for managers, Shoes for Crews Europe; Twitter: @shoesforcrewseu
17. Provide self-guided learning materials.
“If you have a required reading list for new starters, make sure the material is ready for their first day. Introduce them to your internal documentation (covering product and self-service articles), performance tracking tools, and online training materials. Solid training guides are vital as you or your co-workers won’t always be on hand to give help.” – The Advanced Guide to Customer Service Training, Kayoko; Twitter: @kayoko
18. Encourage staff to seek feedback from customers and colleagues.
“If allowed by your employer, ask customers to provide feedback on the service. This can help you understand whether you are providing a great experience for customers on a daily basis. Avoid taking any negative criticism personally. All customer feedback is important, even if it isn’t positive.
You may want to consider asking for feedback at regular intervals, such as quarterly or annually. Keep track of your feedback, and reflect on it with each new round to get an idea of your improvement.” – Customer Service Skills: Definitions and 17 Examples, Indeed; Twitter: @Indeed
19. Develop customer service role-playing scenarios.
“Learning about possible customer service scenarios is a great way to prepare for any future customer issues. It’s always good to anticipate issues and train employees to handle potential situations at-hand. Companies who do customer service right are able to appease unhappy customers and maybe even win their business back.” – Customer Service Roleplaying Scenarios, Broadly; Twitter: @getbroadly
Tips for Dealing with Difficult Customers
20. Master your emotional intelligence.
“Knowing how to manage your own emotions and being aware of other’s feelings gives you leverage in resolving customer issues. Be curious and non-confrontational. The person on the other line is human after all. They may have had a particularly rough day and are blowing off some steam. Stay calm and do everything in your power to put the customer at ease by being empathetic. Let them know you’re listening.” – Yaniv Masjedi, 6 Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers, Nextiva; Twitter: @Nextiva
21. Prepare for difficult situations in advance.
“Sometimes, things happen that take everyone by surprise. Be flexible. When unexpected things happen, deal with them immediately. If some of your employees call out sick on one of your busiest days, don't get all stressed out. Just reassign some of the tasks to others or take it upon yourself to handle your customers directly for the day. Learn to find the solution instead of being the problem.” – Stan Popovich, 8 Tips to Prepare for the Inevitable Tyrant Customer, Entrepreneur; Twitter: @entrepreneur
22. Model the tone of voice you wish the customer to take.
“If your client is especially angry, then talk slowly and calmly, and use a low tone of voice. This will subtly help lower the tension and ensure that you don't escalate the situation by visibly getting stressed or upset yourself.” – Dealing With Unhappy Customers: Turning a Challenge into an Opportunity, Mind Tools; Twitter: @Mind_Tools
23. Summarize the next steps clearly at the end of a conversation.
“At the end of the call, let the customer know exactly what to expect and then be sure to follow through on your promises. Document the call to ensure you’re well prepared for the next interaction.” – 10 Ways to Handle Difficult Customers, Fox Business; Twitter: @foxbusiness
24. Listen to the customer actively and sincerely.
“To make even your toughest customer feel valued, it’s your job to listen to the customer’s full complaint. Listening, in this case, doesn’t mean passively sitting by while your customer rants. Instead, you should focus on what the customer is saying, and show your concern with your body language. Lean forward to show that you are paying attention, nod at the appropriate times, and whenever possible, ask questions about their concerns.” – Gaetano Dinardi, 8 Surprising Ways to Win Over Tough Customers, Nextiva; Twitter: @Nextiva
25. See the issue from the customer’s viewpoint.
“Even if their viewpoint is not your viewpoint, try and deliver a response that shows you respect their opinion. If they are challenging your return policy, for example, state why it’s in place and why it must be enforced. In some situations, such as a response to a customer service scenario, you may even agree entirely with their perspective - in which case you should acknowledge your understanding of their view and offer a resolution to ease their frustration.” – Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle, 3 Tips to Deal With Difficult Customers, Forbes; Twitter: @Forbes
26. Always take the time to apologize.
“Always apologize and be willing to put their needs first, even if you don’t always agree with their opinion. If the customer is upset, they deserve an apology. It may be possible that you have a potential solution you can offer but it all starts with letting the customer know you are sorry first and let them know that you empathize with their situation.” – Examples of Dealing With Difficult Customers, Broadly; Twitter: @getbroadly
27. Keep the promises you make with the customer.
“If you have chosen to make service a part of your brand, or you have at least made service promises to your customers, they must be kept, or customers will eventually move to your competition. In some organizations, meeting the customer's service needs and expectations is a matter of luck rather than strategy: They were simply fortunate in hiring employees who were naturally dedicated to serving others. Such good fortune, however, doesn't last, and companies that bank on it will invariably be last in their industry.” – Shelley F. Hall, Keep Your Customers by Keeping Your Promises, Destination CRM; Twitter: @destinationCRM
28. If you need more time to handle a request, say so.
“There are some issues you’ll need to address at a later time because you’ll need to decide where you or the customer got it wrong. Yes, you can be wrong and it’s okay to admit it to your customer. If you have a promise to call back at a certain time or send a reply, try to fulfill your promise. Give them an outline of all the steps you’ll take to resolve the issue. It’s okay to take time to get things back to normal because it’s not necessarily about how fast the problem is solved, but the importance of preventing the problem from repeating itself in the future.” – 10 Ways to Handle Difficult Customers (and Personal Relationships), Jon Lee Clark; Twitter: @jonleeclark
29. Stay objective.
"We generally say, ‘You are not your idea.’ You have to stay objective. I have always gone back to the understanding that I work for the idea. It’s not mine, and I’m going to work towards everyone’s best interest. This means you really have to be objective and not take things personally. It’s hard, but you have to continue to push to do the right thing for the problem you’re trying to solve.” – Winston Binch, 3 Ways to Deal with Difficult Customers, Zapier; Twitter: @zapier
30. Avoid the hold or transfer button.
“Everyone hates waiting on hold. Getting transferred and having to repeat your problem again to someone new isn’t too high on the list either. Only put them on hold if you absolutely have no other choice. Only transfer them if the problem is beyond your ability to solve. If you can, perform a warm transfer. Talk to the person you’re transferring the customer to and tell that person what the problem is. That way, your customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves. You can also relate what you’ve already done for the customer and what you think could solve the problem.” – Ryan Alleman, How to Deal with Difficult Customers: 10 De-Escalation Steps, Jive; Twitter: @GetJive
31. Let the customer express their frustration.
“You know they’re totally in the wrong, but they don’t understand that yet. They’ve got the situation or the facts all incorrect and you just can’t bear to hear them rehash details that don’t make sense. All they hear from your impatience is that they’re not being heard. Try just letting them get it all out. Listen patiently to what they have to say. Let them vent. It will help you set them straight if you understand their position better first and if they feel like you’ve been paying attention.” – Michael Hoon, 9 tips for handling difficult customers, The Job Network; Twitter: @TheJobNetwork
32. Let the customer vent and explain their position fully.
“When you let an angry customer vent their feelings, here’s the essential part: give them your full attention. For one, you’ll deplete their energy like some sort of jiu-jitsu master. Ideally, they need to vent all their anger in one burst, after which you can focus on the solution. You may feel compelled to interrupt as they recount what’s transpired. Don’t. Even when they’re flat out wrong. Allowing them to get it all out of their system reinforces the fact you have listened intently and almost certainly will have a full understanding of their complaint.” – Joseph Mooney, Dealing with Difficult Customers: A ‘How To’ Guide, Canity; Twitter: @CanityTraining
33. Don’t make excuses or get defensive.
“There is nothing quite so annoying as someone who is making excuses. Don’t do it. Your customer probably doesn’t care why something went wrong, or whose fault it was, they just want it put right. Focus on how to improve the situation, rather than explaining it.” – Customer Service Skills: Dealing with Difficult Customers, Skills You Need; Twitter: @skillsyouneed
34. Prevention can be the best medicine.
“Ultimately, the best way to deal with angry customers is to prevent them entirely. It’s not always possible, but proactively thinking about your customer experience can help root out potential problems and positively impact how people interact with your products, employees, and your company.” – Kali Hawlk, Customer Service Tips: How to Deal With Angry Customers, Shopify; Twitter: @shopify
35. Terminate the conversation if a customer is truly abusive.
“If all else fails and you're unable to get through to your abusive customer, end the discussion. If you're on the phone, explain politely that you feel you can go no further with the conversation and that you're going to hang up. If you're dealing with the customer face to face, ask them to leave your premises.” – Michael Roennevig, Top 10 Ways to Handle Verbally Abusive Customers, Chron; Twitter: @houstonchron
36. Take a few minutes for yourself after a difficult encounter.
“After the situation has been resolved and the customer is on her way, it’s helpful for you to take your own “time-out.” Even if you’ve handled the situation in the most professional way possible, it’s still a stressful experience. Rather than let that stress linger inside you, take a short walk, treat yourself to a snack or find someone to talk to who makes you laugh. Then you’ll be ready to once again engage with your customers.” - 7 Steps For Dealing With Angry Customers, Forbes; Twitter: @forbes
37. Come back to facts to de-escalate a situation.
“Facts help de-escalate angry conversations and encourage customers to define solutions to their problems. If you're confronted with an angry customer, remember to touch back on the facts of the situation (‘Let me make sure I understand your problem...’) to keep things between the lines.” – 12 Ways Call Center Agents Can Deal With Angry Customers, Convoso; Twitter: @convoso
38. Develop a clear escalation policy.
“…there still will be those customers that look to speak directly to the manager. The first thing to do here is to get the caller to open up, acknowledging the fact that they are upset, and show empathy. If the caller does open up, you can make the decision whether the call needs to be escalated. If not, offer a call-back with a manager, so they can choose to either stay on the line and have their query answered immediately or take the advisor up on the call-back offer.” – How to Deal With Difficult Customers, Call Centre Helper; Twitter: @callcentrehelp
Tips for Improving Customer Service with Technology
39. Display your positive customer feedback.
“Displaying customer feedback on your website has numerous advantages. First, it serves as motivation and recognition for the customers who have shared feedback and makes them feel more valued. Another key advantage is that it encourages other customers to provide feedback, because they see that it will not go unattended.” – Judit Pal, How to Get Quality Customer Feedback – 20 Effective Methods, OptiMonk; Twitter: @optimonk1
40. Use non-generic auto-replies.
“Auto-replies are a good idea because they give customers a clear confirmation that their message has been received. Some people might think their request or question didn’t go through if they don’t receive such a confirmation. However, don’t fall into the trap of using plain auto-replies. Make them more interesting and engaging by adding some personality to the mix. Instead of having the subject line be, ‘We received your support request,’ make it more friendly, like ‘Hi – thanks for getting in touch. We’re on it.’” - 19 Great Customer Service Tips To Improve Your Customer Satisfaction, Retently; Twitter: @Retently
41. Chatbots are a future evolution of customer service support.
“There is huge potential for businesses both big and small to leverage AI’s natural language processing capabilities to better serve their customers and prospects. In the service sector, live chat has revolutionized service, with consumers finding it almost as preferable as live phone and email support – and HubSpot believes customer service bots are the next evolution. A service bot provides the shortest path for a website visitor to get the answer he or she seeks.” – Mimi An, Artificial Intelligence Is Here - People Just Don’t Realize It, HubSpot; Twitter: @HubSpot
42. Leverage a knowledge base for your support activities.
“Having an effective knowledge base is becoming an important need as more customers desire self-service solutions and demand faster resolution of questions and concerns. With an effective knowledge base launch, you can increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. At the same time, you’ll provide your support staff and customers alike with a useful resource that can be improved upon and grow alongside your business.” – How to Create a Powerful Knowledge Base for Your Customers, SupportBee; Twitter: @SupportBee
43. Initiate SMS surveys to collect customer feedback.
“Not to be underestimated, SMS is one of the most powerful channels to request feedback from customers. In an age when consumers are always a few feet away from their phones, SMS is still a great way to communicate with your customers. With higher open rates than email, they're a strong alternative to use when only a phone number is known.” – Clint Fontanella, 16 Strategies to Obtain Customer Feedback, HubSpot; Twitter: @HubSpot
44. Automation can help streamline support processes.
“Customer service automation can have a very beneficial effect on your team’s workflow. For instance, your help desk system can be automated to provide scripted responses to the most recurring support scenario. This means that your human agents won’t waste time typing out the same response several times a week.” – Lola Barbier, Customer Service Automation: Pros, Pitfalls, and Best Practices, Aircall; Twitter: @aircall
45. Consider making 2-way communication a priority.
“Enterprises across nearly all industries are aware of the necessity of a rapid-response time and are now prioritizing 2-way communication within their applications. By simplifying and expediting the process in which customers can communicate with a company representative, an enterprise can quickly address any issues and come up with a solution. The catalyst for this improved communication is technology – and it’s now easier than ever to give customers the attention they’re looking for.” – Ivelin Ivanov, Are 2-Way Communication Tools The Answer To Improved Customer Satisfaction?, Telestax; Twitter: @telestax
46. Twitter can be a great platform for providing rapid responses.
“Twitter is quickly becoming the go-to place for customers with a complaint who want immediate help. I've heard from companies within an hour or two when I posted a problem on Twitter and mentioned their company name. For fast-as-lightning customer service, someone at your business should be scanning this channel and responding to questions and complaints.” – Carol Tice, How Your Business Can Build Customer Loyalty -- and Profits, Entrepreneur; Twitter: @Entrepreneur
47. Provide mobile access that simplifies customer tasks.
“Customers want and need information. They want an easy way to get that information and connect with businesses. A mobile app is an exceptional and often must-have tool for businesses. Customers expect mobile apps to provide information while also allowing the customer to interact based on their need.” – Steve Olenski, 5 Ways Brands Can Improve Customer Service Via Technology, Forbes; Twitter: @Forbes
48. Business Intelligence can tell you more about customer decisions.
“Using technology-driven processes like Business Intelligence (BI) to find out why exactly they are making those purchasing decisions provides invaluable insight on a customer. Data analysis can help tell you why your customer is buying a certain product over another. The customers’ individual buying experience can then be used to figure out their exact needs.” – Neha Tandon, 5 Ways Technology Can Improve Your Customer Satisfaction Rates, Kayoko; Twitter: @kayoko
49. Improve the checkout process.
“Long wait times and an unpleasant checkout experience are not the hallmarks of good customer service. Retail stores with unfair queuing systems, confusing in-store experiences, and long lines are bound to leave a sour taste in your customers’ mouths. Use clear in-store signage and other content so that customers know where to stand in line, form lines around checkout aisles to encourage last-minute purchases, and adopt processes and tools that can help you bust through long lines during peak business hours.” – Yamarie Grullon, 25 Simple Customer Service Tips All Retailers Should Try, Shopkeep; Twitter: @shopkeep
50. Develop a suitable opt-in component.
“Technology is great, as it can facilitate a relationship between you and your customer. However, in order to really develop a relationship, you'll need their specific demographic information so you can keep in touch, whether it's by sharing content, specials or product updates. Offer something of value – for example, a white paper, so your prospective or current customer may opt-in as you build a long-lasting relationship.” – Tom La Vecchia, How Can Brands Leverage Technology To Better Connect With Customers?, Forbes; Twitter: @Forbes
51. Adopt cloud technology to help scale your operations.
“Cloud technology provides cost savings, enhanced productivity, and the ease of scaling your operations. Cloud-based services for tasks like document storage, video conferencing, email and calendars are typically a fraction of the cost of buying and maintaining servers and software. Cloud technology also provides greater flexibility and mobility since the data is stored online and is therefore accessible from any device with an Internet connection.” – Mark Kornegay, 10 Strategies to Help Your Small Business Leverage Technology to Think Like the Giants, SBDC Los Angeles; Twitter: @SBDCLosAngeles
52. Leverage social media for your support activities.
“Social media can be very handy as a tool for business success. One way it helps is by giving you a chance to find out what it is that your target client pool wants. Finding your niche in the market is very important in ensuring that your business does well. Setting up profiles and accounts on different sites also works by allowing your potential clients to see what you have to offer thus drawing them to your business. Managed IT support helps your marketing team focus more on marketing, and not have to deal with IT issues.” – Eric Sanchez, 10 Ways to Leverage Technology to Improve Your Small Business, Infinity Technology Consultants; Twitter: @itcaustin
53. Digital audit trails can help reduce disputes.
“In addition to saving time and making it easier for your field service reps, using all-digital programs can help protect you if disputes arise over the work your field reps performed. Use your digital programs to create a complete audit trail that keeps a GPS and time stamp, documents the work completed with pictures, and collects digital signatures. If there are any questions about the jobs your reps performed, you’ll be able to use the digital audit file to make your case and protect your company’s reputation.” – Donna Walker, How to Leverage Technology to Improve Your Field Service Program, Business 2 Community; Twitter: @b2community
54. Implement a modern help desk platform.
“You might be using emails, documents, or some other local system to manage IT tickets. Moving to a cloud-based system will undoubtedly streamline your ticket management process. By having all tickets visible through a single dashboard, it is easy to track and follow the progress of each entry. Centralized ticket management also means that support requests are less likely to fall through the cracks.” – 5 Reasons You Should be Using a Cloud-Based Helpdesk, SupportBee; Twitter: @SupportBee
55. Utilize data to deliver personalized service.
“Few things are more annoying than having to explain your precise situation over and over again to representatives of the same company. Smart (read: nonintrusive) use of data tracking—like keeping tabs on purchase history or frequent shoppers—means your customers are spoken to by name with each email. Even better, it means they know that they can rely on you to truly understand their needs and give them an experience they won’t find from your competitors.” – Gail Rigler, 7 Customer Service Tips to Refresh Your Customer Experience for Spring, Working Solutions; Twitter: @WorkingSol
56. Publish detailed online case studies or testimonials from your best customers.
“Another great form of user social proof, publishing case studies and testimonials allows you to highlight the positive experiences of your happiest/most successful/passionate customers. Consider the various ways you can identify and feature your best customers. Connect with your customer service team and ask them to alert you whenever they come across a particularly happy customer.” – Pamela Vaughan, 10 Ways to Instantly Amplify the Social Proof of Your Marketing, HubSpot; Twitter: @HubSpot
57. Leverage visual communication tools.
“Sometimes a short screencast can say more than a thousand words. Technophobic users will understand a video or an annotated screenshot much better than a text-based email. My favorite tool to create short screencasts is Jing, which is easy to use and also free.” – Robert Brandl, as quoted by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, 8 tech support best practices, CIO; Twitter: @CIOonline
58. Implement customer service features on your website.
“Make it easy for customers to communicate with your staff by installing a chat box that pops up on your business’s home page. Of course, you’ll need a customer relations manager available to assist customers through this channel. If you’re able to do this, it can be a very efficient way of completing customer requests. Another small business customer service idea that is fairly easy to implement is adding FAQ section to your site.” – How to Use Technology to Improve Customer Service, Fora Financial; Twitter: @ForaFinancial
Interpersonal Communication Tips to Improve Customer Service
59. Make your customer feel valued by finding common ground.
“Customers want to make connections with people who are interested in them and their business. While professionalism and efficiency are important, it is just as important to take the time to talk with customers; to ask how business is doing, to comment on things happening around town or in their industry.” – 3 Ways to Find Common Ground With Any Customer, Invoice2go; Twitter: @invoice2go
60. Openly admit mistakes and take responsibility.
“Don't try to get away with deflecting, or explaining what went wrong, or pinning the blame on someone else. You may not be completely to blame. Maybe it was an honest mistake or an unforeseen disaster. Still, admit your part in the snafu and accept responsibility for making it right.” – How to Admit to Your Customers That You Messed Up, Mojo Media Labs; Twitter: @mojomedialabs
61. Use active listening in your conversations.
“Active listening is the foundation of effective communication. Behind every customer call is a real person, looking for guidance or a solution to a problem. It’s critical to engage in active listening in order to make that person feel truly heard, understood, and served.” – Jessica Suezin, Why Active Listening is the Best Customer Service Skill, Fonolo; Twitter: @fonolo
62. Follow up with customers regarding their experience.
“When you follow up with customers and ask them about their experiences or you reach out to them for positive and negative reviews, you are telling the customer you care about them. This genuine interest in them will bring them back because it's rare to find a company that shows this level of interest.” – John Rampton, Why You Should Follow Up on Customer Service Every Single Time, Keap; Twitter: @keapgrowing
63. Set the right expectations with customers.
“So, as a customer support team lead you should train your agents to be realistic and say yes to only practical demands of customers. This leads to right expectations and hence makes the customer experience better. Your live chat agents may also have to say no to customers, but it should be such that you don’t lose them.” – Anurag Mehra, 8 Customer Service Training Tips Your Employees Need To Learn, REVE Chat; Twitter: @REVEChat
64. Address your customers by name when possible.
“We found that offering consumers personalized service can result in the customers’ positive ‘approach’ behavior toward the product. For instance, in one study, when their correct name was used it increased the likelihood that the customer may buy again in the future.” – Tracy Rank-Christman, Using customer names pays off – unless you get it wrong, UWM Report; Twitter: @UWMNews
65. Cultivate a positive outlook and attitude.
“People gravitate naturally towards a colleague who’s upbeat and optimistic. Additionally, they’re more likely to respond in a positive manner to him or her than to someone who’s negative. Teach yourself to be positive by reminding yourself every day of the good things about your life and your job. If you’re upset about a personal matter, set those feelings aside until after work. And if you’re stressed about a work issue, look for the positive in the situation and try to build on that.” – 9 tips for improving your interpersonal skills, Kelly Services; Twitter: @KellyServicesCH
66. Send personalized messages and replies.
“When a customer purchases your product, signs up for your free trial or sends an inquiry, reach out personally to ask how you can help them. Even if most customers don’t take up your offer of help, they’ll appreciate the gesture and form a more positive impression of your business.” - 19 Great Customer Service Tips To Improve Your Customer Satisfaction, Retently; Twitter: @Retently
67. Offer something a little extra like a smile.
“Whether it's a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. A local art framer attaches a package of picture hangers to every picture he frames. A small thing, but so appreciated. Think about your product or service and find something extra that you can offer to customers.” – Susan Ward, 8 Rules for Good Customer Service, The Balance; Twitter: @thebalance
68. Let mistakes be acknowledged openly among staff.
“If the employee is forced to lie to a customer about something, they will not feel confident in that conversation. It is really important to create an atmosphere or trust and friendship within the company, where mistakes can be freely and openly acknowledged and even laughed at. It is impossible to avoid making mistakes altogether. However, honestly acknowledging mistakes and understanding why they happened is the shortcut to reducing them in the future and feeling more confident.” – Maria Lebed, 5 Tips to Train Your Customer Service Reps for More Confidence, Provide Support; Twitter: @provide_support
69. Be memorable for the right reasons.
“We tend to remember positive and negative experiences more vividly than average day-to-day ones. Try to make every customer’s experience a positive one that they’ll remember and talk to others about. Be helpful, be courteous and polite, and give a little extra if possible, even if it is just some advice or extra information about the product or service they are buying or interested in buying.” – Tips to Improve Customer Service, SkillsYouNeed; Twitter: @skillsyouneed
70. Demonstrate self-control.
“People who work in customer service need to be able to calmly handle all customers, even the most negative ones. You must strive to remain calm and cool, even when your customer is not. Patience and self-control will keep you from getting upset and saying something inappropriate. Remember to try not to take it personally when the customer is upset. When the customer is angry, it's even more important to stay calm and try to tone down the conversation.” – Alison Doyle, Top 10 Soft Skills for Customer Service Jobs, The Balance Careers; Twitter: @thebalance
71. Have enough independence to make decisions.
“No customer ever enjoyed being transferred from department to department over and over trying to get an answer. Of course, sometimes it’s normal for agents to ask for help from other departments. But they shouldn’t hand things off unless absolutely necessary. Agents should be independent enough to find answers on their own and deliver them to the customer with confidence, straight from them, not a 3rd party.” – 11 Soft Skills Your Customer Service Staff Need To Make Customers Happy, Playvox; Twitter: @PlayVoxCX
72. Have empathy for your customers.
“No list of good customer service skills is complete without empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotions and to understand their point of view. How is empathy an important service skill? Consider that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. It’s not about whether the problem was solved, if there was a refund, or how much time was spent — at least, it’s not entirely, or even mostly, about those issues.” – Your List of the Most Important Customer Service Skills (According to Data), Salesforce; Twitter: @salesforce
73. Maintain eye contact while you are listening.
“Part of active listening is maintaining good eye contact. By doing so, you avoid being distracted by what is going on around you and you give the speaker non-verbal acknowledgment that you are listening. It’s okay to look away once in a while; staring intently at the person you’re speaking with can make that person uncomfortable.” - 10 Tips for Improving Interpersonal Communication Skills, Leddy Group
74. Have respect for your customer’s time.
“The idea behind respect is that you treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you had a problem, you wouldn’t want to be dismissed or ignored, would you? Of course not. The same goes for the person who has come to you with an issue to resolve. Regardless of their attitude, good customer service skills dictate that you be respectful at all times.” – The 20 Most Important Customer Service Skills You Need To Have, Sling
75. Use analogies when appropriate.
“Analogies are great to explain complex or technical issues or descriptions. If you’ve built a good relationship with a customer, pick examples they’ll connect with. You’ll be able to explain your product or service in a way they immediately understand.” – How to communicate with customers, Australian Government Business; Twitter: @business_gov_au
76. Respect people’s physical space.
“Interpersonal skills are not just about the things you say at work; they also include your actions, or the things you do. The way you act toward people at work will determine whether they feel comfortable around you. Start by always standing an appropriate distance away from the person with whom you are talking. A good rule of thumb is to stand an arm’s length away from the person.” – Art Janowiak, 7 Interpersonal & Social Skills for the Workplace, Conover; Twitter: @conovercompany
77. Be familiar with multiple channels of communication.
“As critical and commonplace as face-to-face conversations are, take advantage of other methods when you can. Practice writing clear and professional emails, conducting phone conversations, and sending courteous private messages. Take advantage of a phone answering service if you can. In today’s world, you can’t afford to rely exclusively on a single communication channel.” - 4 Tips for Better Interpersonal Communication Skills, VoiceLink; Twitter: @vlchouston
78. Be open to feedback from others.
“Being open to feedback can help you develop both personally and professionally. In order to take on board feedback, you must first listen to it. Don’t think about your response; just listen to what is being said. Also take note of the non-verbal communication and body language being used, which will provide subtle clues as to what your colleague or manager is not saying as much as what they are.” - Interpersonal Skills: What Are Interpersonal Skills?, WikiJob; Twitter: @WikiJob
79. Develop the ability to adapt to unique situations.
“While you may have a standard customer service script, customers are not made from cookie cutters. Each individual’s situation is unique, and you need to be ready to adapt to each one. Finding employees with strong adaptability skills will not only help your customer success rate, it will also help you find strong leaders. In fact, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, the ability to adapt or develop was cited as the No. 1 most cited success factor for North American managers.” – Kristen McCabe, The 21 Essential Customer Service Skills for Every Employee, G2; Twitter: @g2dotcom
80. Remain in control of conversations.
“As you know time is valuable, especially when dealing with customers and clients. It’s important to be accommodating when on a call. It’s also important to have the capability to lead and remain in control during the phone call in order to resolve issues efficiently.” - Amy Schiller, The Importance of Controlling the Call (and How to Do It), Medium; Twitter: @Medium
Customer Service Best Practices
81. Treat your existing customers extremely well.
“So, when advertising and promoting to new customers, consider the message you are sending to existing customers. All customers should be treated equally as far as customer service is concerned. All should be made to feel special. But, when it comes to the deal, you might consider treating your existing customers, the ones that have shown you their loyalty, a little better.” – Treat Your Current Customers Better Than Your New Customers, Shep Hyken; Twitter: @Hyken
82. Look at every touchpoint.
“A bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can ruin your relationship. In addition to making sure the right skills are demonstrated, you need to be sure they’re being demonstrated consistently. Pay the most attention to key touchpoints, but make sure you have a full view of the customer experience, or you risk lapses in service that can really hurt business.” - 6 keys to improving your team’s customer service skills, SurveyMonkey; Twitter: @SurveyMonkey
83. Value your customer’s time and provide quick answers.
“Your customers just want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Our data backs this up: 53% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question; 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.” – Kate Leggett, Your Customers Don’t Want To Call You For Support, Forrester; Twitter: @forrester
84. Provide your customers with round the clock support.
“Thanks to the wonders of the internet and modern technology, we can now be ‘connected’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So, it’s no wonder that as consumers, we’ve developed and embraced certain expectations around brands’ availability, such as around-the-clock customer support. However, if you’re a small-business owner, you also have other obligations on top of running a business — and so do your employees. How can you provide always-on customer support without stretching yourself too thin?” – Brenda Barron, Off-Hours Customer Service Tips: How to Offer 24/7 Support, Wordpress.com; Twitter: @wordpressdotcom
85. Invest in support services on social media.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that investing in social customer care drives revenue. According to a previously conducted Twitter poll, airline customers would be willing to pay $2.33 more for the same or enhanced service if a social response is provided in 67 minutes or more. Even more incredible, customers would be willing to pay an astounding $19.83 more if a response is provided within just six minutes. Time is money, so start saving both by providing value quickly on social.” – Jason Valdina, The 6 Most Important Customer Service Stats for 2017, Conversocial; Twitter: @Conversocial
86. Have a transparent refund policy.
“Decide whether you will be offering full refunds, including or not including shipping in the refund, or charging something like a restocking fee with the refund. Anything besides a full refund may have the potential to upset some customers, so you must weigh the financial cost to you vs. what an unhappy customer could cost you (for example, they could leave a bad review, never buy from you again, tell their friends not to buy from you, etc.)." – Sherry Holub, 4 Tips for a Customer-Pleasing Refund Policy, Avalara; Twitter: @avalara
87. Learn enough about your customers to personalize their experience.
“So, if you’re not delivering a personalized experience, it’s time to do so. One size does not fit all. Knowing what your customers want and need could be the one thing that solidifies their decision to do business with you. On the other hand, if you don’t know your customer, that could be the one thing that drives them into the arms of your competitor.” – Shep Hyken, Personalized Customer Experience Increases Revenue And Loyalty, Forbes; Twitter: @Forbes
88. Respond to online reviews.
“Online reviews should be part of the equation, too. At a time when more and more consumers turn to review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Citysearch, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, and even Google Search and Maps in order to guide their purchase decisions, businesses must also be able to handle incoming messages and feedback from customers using these sites.” – Brian Sparker, 5 Reasons Why You Should Respond to Online Reviews, ProProfs; Twitter: @proprofs
89. Record your service phone calls and learn from them.
“Recording calls is valuable for training purposes, coaching team members on the best way to handle customer questions and concerns, and identifying areas of opportunity that can improve the customer experience. While we would all love for our customers and employees to be happy 100% of the time, the reality is people are human and make mistakes—both employees and customers. By recording your phone calls, you have a record of these interactions that you can reference. Think of these recordings like your business safety blanket.” – Yaniv Masjedi, Call Recording: Why Your Business Needs It to Improve the Customer Experience, Nextiva; Twitter: @Nextiva
90. Create a truly modern customer loyalty program.
“Digitalization has changed the way customers transact with companies. Loyal customers aren’t just regular buyers anymore, they could be someone who brings in referrals through social sharing, someone who spreads a good word for you, someone who has stuck with you and resisted switching, or even someone who digitally subscribes to your offerings. Today’s customer loyalty programs should reflect the needs of modern customers.” – Sam Suthar, 8 Top Tips for Creating Killer Customer Loyalty Programs in 2019, Acquire; Twitter: @acquire_io
91. Make it easy for customers to communicate with real people.
“While technology has made it easy for customers to find the information that they’re seeking regarding your product or service, that’s not an excuse to completely hide behind it. There will be times when a customer has to speak with a real-life person. Make sure that your contact information is easily located throughout your website or that you have a click-to-call button on your mobile site.” – John Rampton, 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty, Entrepreneur; Twitter: @Entrepreneur
92. Simply your return process as much as possible.
“Store returns are a fact of retail life. No matter what you sell, people will want to return things. Make the return process straightforward and simple and turn it into a pleasant transaction rather than an unpleasant chore and you will not only keep customers but encourage them to spread positive word-of-mouth about your business - a truly positive bottom line.” – Susan Ward, Small Business Return Policy: Customer Service Tips for Product Return, The Balance; Twitter: @thebalance
93. Develop strong email marketing customer service.
“Even the best marketing tools can cause problems that you won’t be able to solve by yourself and that’s where email marketing customer service comes in. In many cases, it is the only way to get the help you need to solve your problems. Without that service, the success of your campaigns is threatened.” – Szymon Dyrlaga, Why you need email marketing customer service, Freshmail; Twitter: @freshmail_app
94. Keep learning new techniques, knowledge, and skills.
“The more you focus on gaining new knowledge, new skills, and new experiences, the more you have to offer your clients. The more you have to offer, the more they will benefit. The more they benefit, the longer they stay. Keep focused on your own professional growth and learning. Both you and your clients will benefit.” – Rachna D. Jain, Ten Tips for Long-Term Client Retention, AllBusiness; Twitter: @AllBusiness_com
95. Offer a money-back guarantee if you can.
“It’s usually a good idea to offer a money-back guarantee to consumers since it increases their trust levels in your brand. It also makes the whole purchasing experience feel more risk-free, so people are more likely to try your products and services.” - 19 Great Customer Service Tips To Improve Your Customer Satisfaction, Retently; Twitter: @Retently
96. Address mistakes directly and fix them.
“Not taking responsibility for your mistakes is a sure-fire way to get a bad reputation. Transparency is important in business, and customer service is no different. Always strive for a high-quality output as it shows you have a high level of standards.” – Steven MacDonald, Five Ways to Deliver Excellent Customer Service, SuperOffice; Twitter: @SuperOfficeAS
97. Create customer-focused content.
“Customer-focused content is one of the most effective ways of keeping your existing customers happy. Customers already trust your company and have signed on the dotted line. Sending them the same old content that you would someone who has just discovered your brand doesn't cut it. They know you and you should know them, so create content that shows this.” – Ramona Sukhraj, 4 Best Ways to Keep a Customer Happy & Improve Customer Retention, Impact; Twitter: @Impactbnd
98. Offer your customers free shipping.
“Online retailers not offering free shipping may want to reconsider their delivery options. According to the Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 study, nine out of 10 of the survey participants said free shipping was the No. 1 incentive when asked what would make them shop online more often. Surveying more than 1,400 US consumers on their shopping habits, the report found that the number of online shoppers is up more than 41 percent over 2014, with nearly a third (31 percent) of all consumers now shopping online at least once a week.” – Amy Gesenhues, Retail study: 9 out of 10 consumers say free shipping No. 1 incentive to shop online more, Marketing Land; Twitter: @marketingland
99. Give your customers choices whenever possible.
“Your offer is something that will be evaluated by your customers. If they can’t choose from different options, or your offer is not adjustable according to their different needs, they will abort all relationships with your company.” – Dragan Sutevski, 50 Recommendations to Build Long-Term Customer Relationship, Entrepreneurship In a Box
100. Contact customers using their channel of choice.
“Brick-and-mortar retailers know the importance of being where their customers are. To do it in a non-retail setting, you must be agile and innovative in how you engage customers. You also have to adapt to your customers’ favorite ways of contacting you, including using social media. Support and engagement through these channels are critical to boosting customer satisfaction. In other words, you must go beyond email and online forums to keep today’s customers engaged.” – 5 Key Customer Service Best Practices, 31West; Twitter: @31WestGlobal
101. Filter customer feedback by type of issue.
“Service teams are filtering their feedback by type of issues, which is the ideal method—monitoring feedback by issue helps you identify sources of dissatisfaction before they become worse. 31% of service teams also filter feedback by agent, which is a good approach for managing and rewarding individual success performance of each team member.” – Sara Staffaroni, New Research: Customer Service Trends and Best Practices, Business 2 Community; Twitter: @b2community