Visit any customer service blog or attend any customer support conference, and you’ll quickly understand the importance of providing unmatched customer care. Put simply, it’s a key competitive differentiator for businesses today.
Honing the right customer service skills, such as handling customer complaints with finesse, is one part of the recipe for success. Leveraging tools like shared inboxes and knowledge base software help to make the customer support process seamless. But what’s the most important ingredient for providing unmatched customer care? To find out what matters most in today’s competitive landscape, we reached out to a panel of customer service experts and asked them to answer this question:
“What's the single most important tip for providing unmatched customer care?”
Read on to learn what our experts had to say about the most essential ingredients for providing unmatched customer care.
Bob Liddle is one of the co-owners of Kustom Koozies. Bob is a serial entrepreneur and has started many businesses over the years. Some have succeeded, and some have failed. Bob started and owned a t-shirt selling business in college which helped finance a college degree. After college, Bob started a screen-printing company in Florida, building all their equipment including infrared dryer, screens, and presses.
I tell our employees all the time that the best way to provide unmatched customer care is to…
Treat the customer the way you would like to be treated.
There are so many instances where customers have unusual questions, complaints, and issues, and we look at how we take care of them. The above statement seems to solve that issue every time.
Cristina is the founder and CEO of Cledara. Cledara was in Techstars London 2019 and was named SaaS Startup of the Year 2018 by SaaStock, Europe’s largest SaaS conference. Headquartered in London, Cledara is the purchasing and analytics platform for businesses that need to manage and control recurring subscription payments.
The number one thing we teach support people at Cledara.com is the need to be personable and responsive…
It's great if you can address the query on the spot, but that's not always the case.
When that happens, even if the query is through an asynchronous channel like email, we encourage the team to respond fast and let our customer know that we're taking a look at it and the time by which we expect to next follow up with them. That way, our customers know that we care as much about their business as they do.
Every customer support situation is a chance to make a customer into a fan. Rather than canned responses and scripts, we encourage people to make responses personable. We want to know our customers so we can build a great product and we want to give our customers the chance to get to know us, too!
As a green/social entrepreneurship profitability consultant, speaker, and author of Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (endorsed by Seth Godin and Jack Canfield), Shep takes businesses beyond sustainability (status quo) to regenerativity (improving). Shep helps develop and market profitable products/services that turn hunger/poverty into abundance, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.
The most important step in excelling at customer service is listening – but not just ordinary listening…
Yes, of course, once someone comes in with a complaint, you listen well, don't interrupt, give encouragement and make the person feel heard – and then solve the problem or do a make-good. But the real secret comes long before that.
It's what I call anticipatory listening. It means you pay very careful attention to your clients' wishes and frustrations – so that the biggest part of your customer service is surprising and delighting them. As an example, I cite in at least two of my books a supermarket that noticed they had a high percentage of pregnant customers, so they set up special close-by reserved parking and other amenities. No one had complained that they didn't already have it, but this created a thrill – and buzz.
Katie Derrick is a Digital Marketer for Healing Holidays, a bespoke travel agent offering specialist health and wellness retreats.
Use social media to build relationships…
Offer competitions or special customer discounts to boost interaction, keep your brand on their radar, and give something back to loyal customers. For instance, we provide special discounts on retreats, which we then promote on Twitter to keep customers returning to us for a wellness break. It shows we are giving something back to our customers for choosing to book with us.
Also, use social media to put customers at ease, answer customer queries, and communicate on a personal level with consumers by promptly answering questions about your company or brand.
Mark Webster is a co-founder of Authority Hacker, an industry leading online marketing education company. Through their video training courses, blog and weekly podcast, they educate beginner and expert marketers alike. Many of their 6,000+ students have taken their existing businesses to the forefront of their industries or had multi-million dollar exits.
The single most important tip I have found to be invaluable during our journey of achieving unrivaled customer care is to…
Always put yourself in the customer's shoes. While it may seem basic, the key is in the execution.
To really do this, we will go through our sales funnel in the eye of a customer. This includes making a dummy transaction, waiting for the welcome material to come through, having our support team initiate the on-boarding process, and really experiencing what the customer sees through their eyes.
It's easy to assume everything is perfect because you set it up that way, right? But what if it doesn't look like that in reality? If you're relying on expecting things to work the way you set them up, then who knows what could be going awry behind the scenes?
Kenny Trinh is the Managing Editor of Netbooknews.
The most important tip I can give to provide unmatched customer care is genuine care…
An employee who genuinely cares would not just help their customer. They will also go above and beyond what's required of them to make sure the customer is satisfied and happy.
I remember an experience I had at a local grocery store about a month ago that greatly illustrated this.
I saw a mother pushing a big cart with three children. I was about to offer help, but I was beaten to it by one of the employees. The employee had a big smile for them while helping to maneuver their cart and helped them to their car with their groceries.
Now that’s something that should be normal. Employees should help customers. But I can see from the employee's big smile and warm approach that they genuinely cared, and that made all the difference.
Riya is the Founder of Namo Padmavati.
The best and the single most important tip for providing the unmatched customer service is that LISTEN TO THE NEEDS OF YOUR CUSTOMERS…
If you stay in the business for long and conquer, you must understand the urgent need to keep getting updated on what you're selling and what your customer actually needs.
In the business industry, we are all here for making money. I will never deny the fact that making money is important, but what's more important is the fact that you need to know and understand your customer. Starting with the customer research phase until delivering your goods and services, if you are serving quantity without quality, you will not last for long. Learn to make customers loyal to your brand.
Go out of the way, if you have to, to achieve customer satisfaction. We must quickly realize that there is only one boss – the customer, and they can fire everybody in the firm, including the chairperson, simply by spending their money somewhere else.
Also, in today's world, I don't think having satisfied customers is really enough. You must create raving fans if you really want to grow your business.
Raj Vardhman is a freelancer turned entrepreneur. Raj founded GoRemotely, a platform that strives to discover and present the hottest remote jobs out there and to help other people find happiness in the workplace.
The single most important tip to provide top-notch customer service is empathy…
Even though some of us are born more empathetic than others, it's a skill that can be developed with practice. Basically, you need to always put yourself in the shoes of your client, at all times. So, if they are calling in with an issue, no matter how complex, the first thing you need to do is build rapport and be on their side.
Even if you can't resolve a customer's issue right away, as long as you show them that you are doing your best to show them you care, that's what counts. Hear them out, let them rant for a few minutes, and listen to what they have to say. Many customers tend to calm down after being given the opportunity to explain their issue at length and why they are bothered by it.
Jon Hill is the CEO of The Energists.
Customer care should continue even after you make the sale…
Some companies are really good at taking care of their potential customers, but not so good at caring for their actual buyers. But when someone converts into an actual buyer, that’s when you really have to start taking care of them.
Depending on your product, this might look like a number of things. If you sell software, for example, you should do everything you can to make sure that your customer knows how to use it and get the maximum value from it. Especially today, when so many software programs are subscription-based, you have to care for your customers if you want them to resubscribe later on.
If you want to see an industry that understands customer care, look at restaurants. Good restaurants are always making sure that their customers are happy. They’re always sending servers over to ask if the food is good, if the customer would like a drink refill, etc. There’s no reason why every industry can’t operate that way.
Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder & CEO of global marketing and branding firm Mavens & Mogulsbased in Cambridge, MA. Paige’s clients include Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times Company, Colgate, and venture-backed startups, as well as non-profit organizations. Paige graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. Paige is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.
My favorite definition of great customer care is related to…
The quote, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It has been attributed to many people, including Teddy Roosevelt. I like it and find it helpful because it is a simple reminder to listen more than talk, show empathy, and try to look at the situation from another perspective. The goal is not to wear them down or impress them with your smarts. The goal is to connect, communicate clearly, solve the problem and move on.
For me, the brands that offer the best customer service share a few qualities:
- Timely response: They act quickly to address the issue in a genuine way – not with a script, but with sincerity.
- Take responsibility: They do not make excuses or place blame. They take ownership of the issue and do not pass you around or use threats and jargon. The customer feels heard and respected.
- Professional and honest: They are polite to deal with.
In my experience, even if they cannot solve the problem, but you feel respected and heard, and the best they can do is refund you or offer a discount, then at least you can say they tried. Some problems cannot be fixed, but everyone can be treated fairly and with dignity.
Exceptional service means you leave with a good feeling that's better than when you arrived. It is a lot harder and more expensive to find new customers than to keep the ones you have happy and loyal, so it is an important part of your strategy to get customer service right.
Liz London is founder of The Ladyboss Nation, a certified business coach, and author of The Business Bible for the Unconventional Entrepreneur. She’s a serial entrepreneur, dog trainer, bellydancer, reptile-raiser, and a bit of a bohemian punk who helps people understand there is a place for every personality in professionalism.
Some business owners honestly underestimate their effect on customers…
I've worked with so many business owners who've earned a bad review over a simple lack of consideration, an inconvenient policy change, or even closing down for a few days for renovations without letting anyone know! When it comes down to it, the business owner admits that they just didn't realize it would affect anyone. They didn't realize that anyone would notice. You may not feel like a big business, but even if you only have 5 customers, those 5 customers deserve the same treatment they’d get anywhere else. If they don’t get it, you can bet you won’t get a 6th customer.
Here are some golden rules for customer service:
1. Always have your hours and contact info on the main page of your site – most importantly your mobile site!
2. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver.
3. There is never an excuse for being rude.
4. The customer is not always right, but you better let them think they are 99% of the time.
5. Don’t tell us about the labor pains; just show us the baby.
Polly Kay is the Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds.
The single most important tip for providing unmatched customer care is to…
Personalize every single interaction (be that by phone, email, or in person) to the customer. This means so much more than just using their name. In fact, overusing someone's name (particularly if you haven't asked them how they'd like you to refer to them and/or are overly casual about this) can soon seem over-familiar or scripted, and alienate the customer.
This means that to personalize an interaction and deliver the best possible customer service, you have to find out what your customer actually wants. Find out how you can go the extra mile to not just deliver that, but go above and beyond based on their needs and preferences.
Asking the customer what they want is the beginning, and this is commonly overlooked! For instance, if a customer drops a gadget on the desk and just says it's faulty, it might seem obvious that they want to return it. This is a fair assessment, but you haven't actually asked them. Even though they obviously brought it back because they don't want it, an exchange or refund might not be all they want.
Additionally, what a customer tells you they want is only half the story. In this example, the customer obviously wants their money back or a replacement, but that is unlikely to be all.
They might also want to talk about how it disappointed them, concerns over the safety of the item, or why they think it was cheaply made. While all of these things are almost certainly outside of your control and will only hold up your line hearing about them, your customer might need to make sure that you understand and appreciate that.
Also, as a front-line customer service worker, it is up to you to pass this type of feedback back up the chain, too. Otherwise, at a store level, managers might never learn they're stocking faulty or problematic product lines, and manufacturers may never learn of issues with a certain batch or product.
On top of this, bringing an item back to return or having to arrange shipping or collection inconveniences the customer. Any communication with a customer service rep does to some extent, as it costs that customer time and effort.
Some customers will be philosophical about this, while others will be irritable from the get-go as a result. This often confuses front-line staff, who have no idea why the person they're dealing with is being difficult and unpleasant from the outset.
By learning to read the subtext, find out what the customer actually wants as well as what they say they want, and taking the time to read the big picture in terms of the customer's mood and manner, you can tailor the interaction to suit them personally – and provide vastly better customer service to that which you'd achieve in any other way.
Chad Conley is the CEO and co-founder of Complete Roofing in Woodstock, GA and Birmingham, AL. Chad’s calling is focused on growing their people through their business. Chad knows that if they value their people and their people value the customer, the dollars will take care of themselves.
The absolute best way to provide unmatched customer care is to ask better questions…
Everyone has a motivation or a fear that is driving their actions. Asking better questions can help me recognize the fear or problem my customer is tackling. I need to understand where they are coming from. A really good question gives me the ability to empathize with the customer. That empathy ultimately gives the customer comfort and confidence knowing that I understand the problem and can help them solve it.
As an example, a person looking for a new drill isn’t necessarily looking for all the features of the new drill. Rather, they just want to make a ⅛” hole. But, really, it’s not about just making that ⅛” hole. It’s about installing a shelf and how that is going to make them feel when their partner comes home to see the surprise. Asking better questions and getting to the “why” increases my ability to understand what they need and to offer the best technical support for the customer.
Better customer support isn’t about being a life coach. It’s just about taking a few extra moments to understand the needs of the customer through asking better questions.
Adam Jacobs is a Public Relations Campaign Manager at Powerblanket.
Customer service begins and ends with the realization that…
No one knows your customer's problems better than the customer. You might have what they want, but only the customer will know if your product meets their needs. The second you believe that you know more than the customer is the moment you've begun to lose the sale. It's critical to good customer service that the customer genuinely believes that you're there to provide resources to solve their problems, not to tell them what they're doing wrong.
David Leonhardt is President of THGM Writers, a ghostwriting agency that helps small businesses and people with interesting lives tell their stories.
There is one thing entrepreneurs can do to make sure they are delivering the best care…
Be a customer. Of course, everybody is a customer in real life. But does everybody pay attention what stores and services do – or fail to do – to take care of them as customers? Do they stop and think, “I should do that!” Or, “Oops, I think I do that.” Nothing helps deliver exceptional customer care like putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. That’s not very hard to do. But it is very easy to forget to do.
Reuben Yonatan is the Founder and CEO of GetVoIP.
Nothing is better than speed…
People contact you because they have a problem they want you to solve. But they judge you based on how quickly you get back to them with a solution – or at least with a message that you're actively working on one. Those automated messages that say, "We've received your email," don't count. People want to know that they've been heard and that a real human being is working on fixing their problem. If you want to provide unmatched customer care, respond to inquiries as quickly as you can with a personal note – within a few minutes if possible. Let them know what the next steps are and what they can expect from you. Then, keep your promises.
A Psychology graduate and HR post-graduate, Skye Kizilcik oversees client communication, on-boarding, and team culture at Appetiser. With a keen interest in human behavior, thinking, and decision making, Skye loves to explore varying perspectives and viewpoints and create a positive work culture.
The single most important tip for providing unmatched customer care is relatively obvious…
Actually caring about their experience. At Appetiser App Development, we show this care by engaging in consistent and constant communication with the customer to ensure we are on the same page through every process and change. Next, we establish empathy and understanding by stepping into their shoes to ensure that we clearly understand the expectations for their goals and aspirations. Another crucial factor in providing unmatched customer care is establishing boundaries, saying no where applicable, and providing the customer with alternatives and solutions for such moments.
Norhanie Pangulima is a Content Marketing Executive at SIA Enterprises.
Providing excellent customer service starts with a genuine desire to delight your customers…
70% of the customer’s journey is dictated by how the customer feels they are being treated, according to McKinsey.
Below are a few ways you can provide unmatched customer care:
1. Smiling makes your customers feel welcomed.
2. Listen and act on their complaint.
3. Showing gratitude to the customers can be a memorable experience to them. Show them appreciation by simply saying thank you.
4. Pay attention to the customer’s request. This will make them feel important, allowing you to build a relationship with them.
5. Be courteous and respectful. Focus on the problem and how to solve it.
Can Ozdoruk is Netomi's VP of Marketing. Can has an MBA from the University of Southern California, and Can’s insights on customer service and the benefits AI can provide the industry have been featured in publications like CustomerThink, G2, and Clutch.
Above anything else, your customers demand convenient and effortless experiences…
To provide the kind of customer care that drives loyalty, you must respond quickly on your customers' channel of choice – whether that's email, chat, messaging, or voice channels. In numerous studies, customers also say that respecting their time and providing quick resolutions is critical. To meet these quick-rising demands for support, companies are leveraging AI for customer service. Conversational AI Agents can resolve over 50% of customer issues immediately, within seconds.
Laura Gonzalez is the Marketing Manager of Audi Westmont. Laura has extensive experience in the automotive and marketing fields. Laura oversees all marketing initiatives for the dealership and manages customer relations initiatives as well.
Hear what your customer has to say; don’t just wait for them to speak and completely gloss over their thoughts. You have to be willing to listen and acknowledge their thoughts.
Siddhartha Gupta is the Chief Executive Officer of Mercer | Mettl, a HR technology company and leading talent measurement firm that enables businesses to make precise people decisions in Talent Recruitment, management, and training across industry verticals.
Customers want responsive brands and quick resolutions to their challenges…
And if you add value to your services by offering solutions that they didn't figure out on their own, it contributes to customer delight. Show them how solutions can be more meaningful with different configurations of market solutions (all solutions, not necessarily those from your inventory), help them solve their business pain points, and offer them a visualization of what and how these solutions will impact business success. Also, instead of multiple calls and back and forth communication, connect customers directly to organizational people who can best meet their needs and offer solutions without delay.
John D. Hanson
John D. Hanson is a Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, and Author of WOW Your Customers! 7 Ways to World-Class Service.
Empathy: the ability to put ourselves in others' shoes…
Sympathy is simply feeling badly about what a customer is experiencing. Empathy is compassion in action – doing something about it. A commitment to finding a solution. It's the Platinum Rule: treating others as they would like to be treated. That requires a level of intimacy that comes from asking well-worded, open-ended questions and employing active listening – listening to understand, not to reply. A Genesys survey found that the number one quality customers value in a customer service experience is the human touch: empathy.
Robyn Flint is an insurance specialist at ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and is a founding owner of a real estate rehab company. Robyn is also a licensed realtor, freelance writer, published author, and owner of a direct sales business.
The single most important tip for providing unmatched customer care is…
To be genuine and be approachable. Be willing to go the extra mile to meet the needs of your customers.
Annastasia Kamwithi is the Main Editor of Socialfish.org.
My top tip for providing unmatched customer care is ensuring that you add a personal touch to every customer interaction…
This means that you must always refer to your clients by their names and also ensure that you learn what they love and use this to interact with them on a personal level. You could even go a step further and check out their social media pages so you can mention one or two things about them that they love, such as their kids or pets. This will go a long way in making your clients feel the love and know that you care about them. It’s not always about business.
Lynae Johnson is a 14-year veteran of the eCommerce world as a Corporate Account Manager with tradeshow-stuff.com. Lynae effortlessly forges relationships with clients through humor and shared interests in parenting, Midwest living, pets, and baking. Lynae is known for having mad organizational skills and lives by The Golden Rule.
Unmatched customer care is embodied by respect…
When you treat your customer with genuine respect, it shows your appreciation for their time and interest. The customer feels valued even before a sale is completed.
For example, I demonstrate sincere care for my customers by consistently responding to them promptly with each inquiry. They know that if I tell them that they’ll receive a quote or additional information “yet today,” they will indeed receive it today.
When I take care of my customers by being respectful and reliable, it builds rapport and trust. It also creates an environment for both me and my customer to maintain an ongoing relationship and thrive.