Have you ever bought anything from Zappos? They bend over backwards to make customers have a wonderful experience.
Bought something a week ago that’s now on sale? Contact them and they’ll refund you the difference. Bought running shoes that rub the back of your ankles raw? Return them, even though you’ve already worn them. It is these things that make people keep coming back.
At the end of the day, you can buy shoes from pretty much anywhere. But having a company go the extra mile like that for you generates brand loyalty. (And no, this is not sponsored content).
So unless you offer something truly unique like interdimensional travel or the ability to teleport, it behooves you to figure out a way to shine among your competitors with extraordinary customer service.
But, how exactly do you do it? What are the key elements? How can you develop the best strategy for your business? Put the kettle on, get comfy, and read on.
What Is a Good Customer Service Experience?
A good customer service experience is your customer’s perception and how they feel after interacting with your business. Sometimes, this can mean meeting their expectations; while in competitive markets, it may require that you exceed them. Delight them, if you will.
You want to provide the kind of customer service that leaves people rushing out of your store (or website) to shout from the rooftops about the wonderful experience they just had. Some excellent examples that result in this kind of elated feeling include:
- Remembering people’s names
- Reliable customer support
- Friendly and empathetic agents
- Resolving issues quickly
- Suggesting goods or services you know they’ll need or love
In a nutshell, good customer service makes people want to keep coming back for more — and bringing along their friends and family.
5 Benefits of Providing Good Customer Service
Customer service is everything. And that’s not hyperbole. When you take a closer look at the benefits it brings, it becomes clear that it’s not just another expense, but a necessity. In fact, it’s an investment in your business.
1. It’s More Cost Effective to Retain Customers Than Get New Ones.
While you should definitely have a marketing budget and develop a strategy to attract new prospects, it’s important to keep in mind that keeping existing customers entails a lower investment. Therefore, prioritizing customer satisfaction can help you keep your costs down.
2. Satisfied Customers Are a Great Source of Referrals.
Eighty one percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family a lot more than marketing materials. In fact, word of mouth is the most valuable form of marketing. So being proactive about making your customers happy will bring you a much higher return on your investment than anything else in your marketing strategy.
3. Happy Customers Are Willing To Pay More.
Let’s think about electronics for a minute. You can buy a low cost tablet or laptop at big box stores, which is amazing for people on a budget. Yet, there are still plenty of individuals who line up every time Apple releases a new gadget.
Some are even willing to camp out the night before to get a good place in line. So yes, people are indeed willing to pay a premium for products or services when they truly get value from their interactions with your business.
4. Develop Brand Loyalty to Increase Retention.
Long-term relationships with customers go hand in hand with exceptional customer service. In fact, about 89 percent of customers switch brands after a bad customer experience.
And if they switch, they’re also likely complaining about their bad experience to others — and probably also leaving bad reviews. On the other hand, honoring customer requests, earning their trust, and making things easier for customers will keep them coming back.
5. You Generate Increased Profits.
All of the components above — lower costs to retain existing customers, referrals, a willingness to pay more, and brand loyalty — pave the yellow brick road to increased profits. Therefore, developing a good customer service culture is the base on which you build everything else for your business.
10 Awesome Customer Service Experience Examples
1. Optimize Your Website.
Your website is most people’s first impression of your business. If it’s too loud, difficult to navigate, overwhelming, or (gasp!) unsecure, people are gonna leave and look for your competitors instead. Consult with a user experience (UX) specialist so that you can design an intuitive, appealing, and helpful website.
There are several ways you can optimize your current site, such as:
- Conducting a keyword research using tools like Ahrefs or Moz
- Resizing your images for faster load times
- Ensuring it’s mobile friendly
- Writing a good meta description
- Linking content to reputable sources
2. Value Your Customer’s Time.
Don’t make people wait on hold for 45 minutes to speak to the next available representative. Yes, you are busy, but so is everyone else — and leaving them waiting for an answer for extended periods of time sends the message that you think your time is more valuable than your customers. If you have a higher call volume than usual, there are many solutions you can implement:
Solutions include hiring more customer service reps, automating basic answers via a live chat bot, offering a knowledge base, having someone call them back in the order the call was received, providing an email address, or answering questions through social media.
3. Make Things As Easy As Possible.
Life is complicated enough without having to try to figure out where on a website you can find customer service contact information. People also shouldn’t have to get a PhD to figure out how to use your products.
In fact, one of the metrics used to measure good customer service is the customer effort score (CES). Customers themselves fill out a survey after doing business with you to rate you on a scale from 1 to 7. The easier you make things for them, the further ahead you will be from competitors.
Things you can do to make things easy for customers include adding a call to action button in marketing emails, offering online scheduling, and providing the option to cancel a membership/subscription online without having to reach out to customer service.
And if you sell products, offer return labels via QR codes instead of only providing print-only options.
4. Provide Multiple Channels of Communication.
This one is an extension of making things as easy as possible. Some people don’t mind calling a call center for their customer service needs. Others prefer texting, emailing, or using live chat. Do some market research on what your buyer persona prefers, and provide their top options as alternatives to reach you.
For example, if you’re targeting a younger customer base, make sure they know how to reach you via social media and text. You can even make things easier by automating the initial text message, letting them know that’s where they can reach you.
By the same token, if your target market prefers more traditional methods of contact, make your phone number click-to-call and provide a conspicuous email address.
5. Personalize Your Service.
This means a lot more than sending marketing emails greeting readers by name. You want every point of contact to specifically help each customer. This entails segmenting your contacts based on where in the buyer’s journey they are.
You can create a personalized experience using plenty of tactics, like greeting visitors who are just beginning to do research with helpful content — such as blogs, podcasts, or comparison charts.
You can also tailor your content for existing customers so that they’re directed to video tutorials or how-to-use manuals for products they’ve already purchased. Tailor each communication to serve them. HubSpot's smart content feature allows you to display different versions of content depending on the visitor's category.
6. Train Your Customer Service Reps.
Being a customer service representative entails a lot more than simply answering a phone or routing a call. Look for effective, structured training that teaches them the necessary soft skills to be successful.
These include listening skills, emotional intelligence, empathy, and crisis management, among others. Don’t have them memorize a script of canned answers. You can include those in a self-service knowledge base. When customers call, they want to feel heard, understood, and have their issues resolved.
Examples on how to provide the best training includes ensuring they know the goods and services you sell like the back of their hands. Make sure they practice by creating simulated tickets.
If you see the same issues coming up regularly, it’s time for additional training. Also, make sure your team is trained on soft skills so that they can provide the best customer experience.
7. Be Transparent.
We live in an age of instant gratification and Amazon Prime. If it’s going to take a month to ship an order — for whatever reason: soaps need to be cured, the purchase is a pre order, a worldwide pandemic — let the customer know.
Be as transparent as possible at each touchpoint. For example, place warnings/disclaimers in bold lettering and remind visitors of pertinent information before they complete their purchases. This way, you manage their expectations and prevent angry calls directed at your customer service reps.
8. Predict Future Behavior.
Foreseeing what a customer may need requires gathering data. What are their purchasing patterns? Preferences? Likes and dislikes?
For example, if you sell sports equipment and you’re aware that one of your repeat customers does triathlons, you already know that even though they probably already have a road bike and helmet, they’ll likely at some point need to replace cycling shoes, running shoes, biking, running, and swimming apparel.
You can use customer service software as well as attentive reps to use this information to suggest items in stock. Extra bonus points if you remember their sizes, preferred brands, and colors (or use AI to do so).
9. Streamline Returns and Exchanges.
Some vendors make customers jump through hoops to make a return or exchange (needing original paper receipt, going to a UPS store instead of USPS, requiring that they print a return label). Maybe the closest UPS store is far. Maybe they don’t have a printer. Maybe they threw out or misplaced the paper receipt, but they can show you evidence of the transaction via a confirmation email or credit card statement.
Easy solutions include the option to arrange for the UPS delivery person to pick up the packed item from the customer’s doorstep, offering QR codes that can be scanned in lieu of printing a label, and the rep’s ability to look up the transaction by the person’s contact information.
10. Keep Customers in the Loop.
As you gain prospects and customers, gather their email addresses at some point during their transactions with you. Include landing pages with contact forms on your website.
Ways to do this include enticing people to give you their email by providing a coupon code on their first order. Offer free helpful content (such as a free whitepaper, webinar, or ebook) in exchange for their email address.
Then send newsletters to these contacts with information they would find useful — upcoming events, new services or items in stock, sales, trainings, etc. This way, you continue to offer value even after their purchases.
How to Develop a Customer Experience Strategy
Although there are many factors that can come into play into an ideal customer experience strategy, there are several steps that benefit businesses across the board.
Align Your Service With Your Company’s Vision.
What are your company values? Common examples include honesty, passion, positivity, being open-minded, and thinking outside the box, to name a few. Whatever yours are, use them as the building blocks for your customer service experience.
If you look at the words listed in the preceding sentence, you’ll notice that many of them lend themselves to good customer service (e.g. thinking outside the box often leads to faster resolutions; while passion can drive service agents to be fully committed to achieving customer satisfaction).
Create an Emotional Connection With Customers.
Emotions are everything. They are the fire that drive people to build their businesses, enter into relationships, and make purchases. It requires empathy and results in customers becoming more engaged with your brand.
For example, going back to the monarch of great customer service, Zappos, they have actually sent bouquets of flowers to grieving customers, or those who are recovering from surgery. They have overnighted shoes for free so that a groomsman could have his outfit ready for a wedding.
They understand that purchases aren’t isolated transactions. They come from people who are constantly experiencing life events that may result in numerous or late merch returns. This makes people feel seen and appreciated.
Gather Customer Feedback.
To develop the most effective strategies, it’s crucial to take into account customer feedback. This provides extremely valuable insights that you may otherwise miss. There are many ways to do this.
You can ask them in person, email surveys, have them rate your business with stars, expressive faces, or numbers. Provide forms for them to write about their experiences and suggestions.
And once you have it, act on it. If too many people mention high call wait times, study the many ways to address that issue. If your customer service reps often don’t have answers, look into the training you’re providing and update accordingly. Take these insights as an instruction manual on what to do next.
Key Elements in Customer Service Training
In addition to developing a good customer experience strategy, also make time to guide your service team. Their success is intertwined with customer satisfaction and with your business’ longevity.
Provide Adequate Training.
Even if you hire experienced customer service representatives, you need to show them what’s unique to your company. Teach them how to use the CRM platforms and all integrated softwares.
Pay for them to take customer service courses that help them develop emotional intelligence and soft skills. Offer job shadowing for new employees and mentoring to anyone who needs it.
Empower Customer Service Reps.
Trust that your customer service agents know how to do their jobs. Instead of having them constantly having to check with management whether they can do something — and putting customers on hold while at it — let them know that they have the green light to do what’s best for customer satisfaction, within reason.
Provide Updated Technologies.
Ask anyone younger than a millennial if they’re familiar with rotary phones. Maybe you’ll find a cool nerd or two who know what you’re talking about.
But even if they do, it doesn’t mean they’d find them practical. Look for software and automation services that are user friendly and that enable your team to provide seamless service.
Host Interactive Exercises.
Learning things in theory is a good starting point, but most people learn best when they can put what they read into practice. By organizing scheduled trainings where employees get to role play different common customer service scenarios, you give new hires more confidence when they experience such calls from actual customers.
Create a Resource Library.
A good resource library benefits your customer service reps as well as your customers. For internal purposes, create a knowledge base that includes how to use your CRM, product descriptions and how to use them, and anything else that may be relevant to their jobs.
As for customers, create a self-service library that they can use to get answers to simple questions, video tutorials, infographics, and all information that will help them understand your product without having to wait for a customer service rep to assist them.
How to Improve Your Customer Experience Management
Customer experience management refers to all the processes your company uses to track, organize, and implement impactful interactions for each customer touchpoint.
Having the right customer service software will make customer experience management more sustainable and efficient. Specifically, look for CRM platforms and customer service software that offer the following features:
- Contact segmentation
- Email automation
- Help desk software
- Ticketing tools
- Instant messaging and live chat
- Customer surveys
- Integrations with other applications
- Reporting dashboards
Once you have the right software to do all the data gathering and automate administrative tasks, you can focus on honing the skills learned during customer service training and implementing your customer experience strategies.