40+ Amazing Customer Service Training Ideas, Exercises & Topics

Download Now: Free Customer Support Training Template
Sophia Bernazzani Barron
Sophia Bernazzani Barron

Updated:

Published:

When it comes to my relationship with a brand, the most important thing is customer service. Getting customer service right is crucial to the success of your business. Quality customer service will allow you to retain customers, grow your business, and transform customers into loyal advocates for your brand.

Customer service manager training their team

It all starts with training, education, and culture. Companies with a customer-centric culture are 60% more profitable than those without. So, if you ask me, prioritizing customer service is a must. I tend to stick with companies who offer top-tier customer service, even over competitors who can offer a cheaper alternative, and I don’t think I’m in the minority on that.

In this article, I’ve compiled 40+ customer service ideas to help optimize your training and provide inspiration for reps looking to up their customer service game. Read on to start moving the customer service needle!

→ Download Now: Customer Support Training Template [Free Template]

customer service training topics

1. Reflective Listening

Reflective listening is repeating what people say when you respond to them. This extremely useful customer support skill ensures you and your customers are on the same page. It also helps customers feel heard when dealing with a frustrating or time-sensitive issue.

To practice growing your reflective listening skills, break team members into pairs and ask them to take turns responding to their partner by reflectively listening.

Here's an example:

Sarah: Hi, more money was taken from my account than usual, and I didn't authorize that. I need my money back.

Miguel: Hi Sarah, apologies that you were billed twice this month. I‘ll make sure to get you your money back in full. To confirm, you’re not seeing any other unusual payments, correct?

Taking the time to repeat Sarah's issue back to her helps Miguel to quickly identify and diagnose her issue, as well as assure Sarah that help is on the way for her problem.

In my experience, I’ve found that when I receive service from customer service representatives who are actively listening, I always feel more positively towards them and the company I’m working with. It makes me feel heard, understood, and valued, which is how you want your customers to feel!

2. Product Demonstration

A product demonstration is a great test for new support reps before getting on the phone. Product demonstrations are deep dives that ensure service reps know the product or service inside and out.

Reps should be tasked with giving a 10-15 minute product presentation and demonstration — walking a prospective “customer” through everything they need to know to start using it themselves successfully.

Managers should listen for their ability to succinctly and clearly explain complicated topics — and to make sure they know how to use and explain every facet of the product, its website or app, and its features.

I’ve been through a few product demonstrations in the past, and in my experience, it's easy to tell when the representative is just regurgitating product features. I would prefer the rep to collaborate with me on how their product can serve my business needs. So, know your product inside and out!

Free Customer Support Training Template

Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

  • Training Timeline
  • People to Meet
  • 100 Day Goals
  • And More!
Learn more

    Download Free

    All fields are required.

    You're all set!

    Click this link to access this resource at any time.

    3. Call Review

    Feedback is the breakfast of champions — and of support, reps, too.

    Call reviews are a common practice among successful customer support teams. (We do it here at HubSpot.) Periodically, teams should gather to listen to a recorded call with a customer and talk about what went well and what can be improved. Actual calls can give you insight into real expectations, and input from team members can provide a unique perspective to help reps constantly improve.

    I was no stranger to call reviews when I worked at HubSpot Support, and I’ve been on both sides of the review as a new hire and a team lead. Let me tell you from experience that your growth areas will become exceedingly clear when you know someone is listening!

    Featured Resource: Customer Support Training Template

    Download this Template

    4. Customer Service Training Presentations

    One of the most traditional ways to train customer service teams is through a presentation. With this method, management or team leads gather employees for a meeting and then discuss a service topic in-depth. This lets the speaker touch on specific training material while giving the rest of the team a chance to provide feedback or ask questions.

    There are a few types of presentations you can use to conduct training. Let's review some below.

    Visuals

    Visuals like PowerPoints and graphics are a great way to hook in a larger audience. These images clarify and support your speaking points, making your presentation easy to follow and more impactful on the listener. Like many others, I’m a visual learner, so I find strong visuals very beneficial in a training scenario.

    PowerPoints are a proven format for customer service training; however, if you take this route, be sure to avoid some of the common pitfalls outlined in this video.

    Storytelling

    If you're looking for a motivational format, try storytelling. With this presentation, the speaker retells relevant experiences to their audience. They recap what happened, why, and how they overcame it. This gives the audience an actionable plan and demonstrates how someone on their team surmounted customer service roadblocks.

    Instruction

    Instruction should be used when presenting a new or complex topic to your audience. For example, if you're launching a new product, you may hold an instructional presentation explaining what it is, how it works, and why it was created.

    In these scenarios, speakers often use metaphors and paradoxes to compare confusing points with other topics the audience is more familiar with. This makes a complex topic much easier to understand because the speaker has connected it to a relatable concept.

    Q&A

    Question and answer, or Q&A, is a presentation style that‘s more intimate than the ones listed above. In this approach, the speaker briefly discusses a topic and then opens the floor for the audience to ask questions. This is great for smaller audiences because everyone can participate in the group discussion. Q&A’s are an excellent format for keeping employees engaged, but they require your speaker to have extensive knowledge of the presentation topic.

    If these options aren't best for you, check out more presentation styles here.

    5. Sensitivity Training

    The beauty of hiring a diverse workforce is that your employees encounter unique perspectives they may not have experienced. While that diversity is great for fostering new ideas, it can also lead to friction between teammates.

    You must ensure all employees work towards the same goal as an owner or manager. Sensitivity training is an exercise that helps employees understand their professional goals and personal biases. By diving into these topics in-depth, employees can better understand one another and be more considerate of their differences.

    No matter how well your team works together, conducting sensitivity training regularly is essential. This will remind employees how to treat one another and voice their opinions if they need to confront an issue. By reviewing these ideas consistently, new hires will feel more comfortable when joining your team, making them more productive early on.

    6. Customer Experience Simulation

    Customer experience simulation is the reverse of role playing. Instead of interacting with a mock customer, the service rep becomes the customer and goes through the experience of purchasing your product or service.

    The benefit of this exercise is that reps can see the roadblocks they troubleshoot from the user‘s perspective. They can relate to customers’ frustration or disappointment when something goes wrong or expectations aren't met. That way, when working with real customers, they better understand what people are going through and how to resolve their issues.

    This tip is golden, as someone who has been both a customer and a customer service rep. I believe that empathy is at the heart of excellent service, and what better way to develop that than to walk a mile in the customers’ shoes?

    7. Social Media Training

    Social media is a critical component of a robust omnichannel support solution. In fact, customers expect excellent customer service from brands on social media channels. About 49% of consumers say they'll unfollow a business on social media due to poor customer service, and I’ve done it myself. Needless to say, you’ve got to allocate some team resources to social media support.

    However, social media is still relatively new to customer service, and not all of your reps may be as experienced with using these platforms for professional needs as opposed to personal updates. A training course that teaches them social media use might be helpful (Here's one from HubSpot Academy). That way, communication will be smoother on social channels and create more delightful customer experiences.

    8. Product Breakdowns

    If your company sells a physical product instead of software or services, it can be helpful for employees to see how the product works, inside and out. Take your product apart in front of your employees and show them how it‘s put together step-by-step. Educate them about where your product’s resources come from and how the manufacturing process is carried out daily. This can benefit employees who work less closely with your products.

    If your product is software, it can be tricky to deconstruct. So, instead, talk to your employees about where your servers are located and how your software is powered. Discuss contingency plans for potential shutdowns and what employees can share with customers if they ask about sensitive information. When I worked at HubSpot Support, we often received support calls from IT professionals. Being able to speak their language and relay relevant technical details confidently delighted these customers and made them feel well taken care of.

    Free Customer Support Training Template

    Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

    • Training Timeline
    • People to Meet
    • 100 Day Goals
    • And More!
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      9. Corporate Culture Training

      Corporate culture is paramount for your service team. That’s because your customer service time is the main customer-facing arm of your business. If they don‘t believe in your company’s culture, your customers won’t either. As a customer, I can always tell if a customer service rep is genuinely invested in my success or if they just want to close my case, and that difference comes down to culture.

      Corporate culture training doesn‘t have to be extensive, but it should be consistent. Employees should be reminded daily about your company’s core values and how they contribute to that culture.

      One way to do this is with a culture code. This resource lists the company‘s values and what it expects from its employees. This will help you hold employees accountable and show customers you’re committed to creating a positive experience.

      10. Crisis Communication

      In my experience, how a company handles a crisis can make or break my relationship with them as a customer. Excellent crisis handling is honest, transparent, and makes you feel like everything is handled appropriately.

      Successful companies don't wait for a problem; they anticipate it and prepare their teams accordingly. They create crisis communication plans and educate every rep on how to respond to common questions that customers will have for the business. This preparation can be the difference between your team saving loyal customers or losing them to churn.

      Customer service teams are often very busy, and you may not have time to host a formal training. However, this doesn't exclude your team from performing activities that can help them sharpen their skills.

      If this is the case for your business, try the exercises below to improve your customer service skills.

      customer service exercises

      1. Mock Calls

      Along the same lines as the reflective listening exercise, mock calls are a time-tested strategy for practicing a job before actually doing it.

      Team members should be paired up and given real scenarios that customer support reps have to tackle daily — easy ones and difficult ones. Have support reps take turns serving as the customer and the support rep so they can get an idea of how to handle common issues — and how to adapt during stress-inducing calls.

      Team members playing the role of the customer should feel free to be creative — all customers are different, and support reps should be prepared to adapt to various situations and personalities before they get on the phones with real customers.

      2. No ‘No’s Allowed

      This exercise will teach support reps how they can still be helpful if they don't give customers the answer they want to hear.

      There‘s only one rule: No saying ’no.‘ (This includes all ’no‘-oriented words and phrases, like "I don’t know“ and ”We don't do that.")

      This exercise will challenge support reps to reframe the conversation with a customer when, in fact, the answer truly is ‘no.’ But when customers are upset or frustrated, answering their requests with a flat-out ‘no’ might aggravate them and won't move the conversation forward.

      Team members should be put into pairs and take turns role playing the customer and the support reps. “Customers” should make big, bold requests that support reps can‘t say ’no' to — but instead, have to figure out a solution-oriented response.

      For example, if the customer asked for a discount that the support rep wasn‘t authorized to offer, instead of saying ’no,‘ the rep could say, "If you’re looking to reduce the cost of your CRM subscription, I could help you consolidate your database to under 1,000 contacts. Would you like help setting that up?"

      The support rep is essentially telling the customer that no, they can‘t offer them a discount. But, by providing alternative options, the customer might feel like the support rep is on their side and won’t get frustrated by what they perceive as stubbornness or inflexibility.

      3. Role Playing

      Improving your customer service skills is like improving your golf swing. You need to keep practicing it, over and over again, until it's perfect — or, in my case, until I can find the ball after I hit it.

      Role playing is an effective exercise for sharpening customer service skills. One employee pretends to be a customer and then presents a service case for another to troubleshoot. Once the case is solved, reps switch places and repeat the scenario.

      Role playing lets reps work on both communication skills and their troubleshooting process. Since it's not a real customer, reps have a safety net that allows them to practice new techniques they may have yet to try. If your team works with customers face-to-face, this exercise gives them a live environment to perfect their skills without risking customer churn.

      4. Lunch and Learn

      Support teams should regularly take turns giving presentations during group lunches. The topic doesn't matter — it can be work-related or a presentation about their recent vacation photos or an organization they volunteer with. Whatever the subject, lunch and learns will keep support reps in the habit of being able to present and explain new topics to others.

      This is a critical skill for support reps, especially when onboarding new customers unfamiliar with using a product or service. The lunch and learns will also provide a safe space for reps to practice and learn about each other outside of work. When I worked at HubSpot support, I found lunch and learns and other informal training scenarios instrumental in my development and incorporation into the team.

      Free Customer Support Training Template

      Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

      • Training Timeline
      • People to Meet
      • 100 Day Goals
      • And More!
      Learn more

        Download Free

        All fields are required.

        You're all set!

        Click this link to access this resource at any time.

        5. Meditation

        Sometimes, working on the front lines of customer support can be stressful.

        No matter how hard you try, sometimes you might get the blame for a problem that‘s entirely out of your control. You might also receive the brunt of a customer’s frustration and be presented with feedback that isn't particularly diplomatic.

        Whatever the case, meditation can be a helpful tool for regaining and establishing mental relaxation — even during a busy workday. If you can’t step away from your desk for an entire mediation session, I find it very helpful to just check in with myself and focus on my breath for a few moments. A long inhale followed by a short breath hold and an even longer exhale always relaxes me in just a few seconds.

        Dedicating time to meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation — and encouraging employees to use it for that purpose — will help train them to de-stress and stay positive during those challenging moments with customers. Apps like Headspace or YouTube videos can help if you want to practice as a team.

        6. Personality Tests

        This isn‘t specific to customer support, but it’s a good idea for new reps to take a personality test to learn how they work and communicate best with others.

        One framework you can use is the DiSC profile, which evaluates people‘s behavioral and personality differences. Here’s an example profile below.

        customer service training example, disc

        Image Source

        Other tests include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Predictive Index Assessment (PI). All of these can give support reps helpful insights into how they work best, communicate with others, and possible sources of conflict they might encounter.

        You can‘t control the customer’s personality — but you can control your reactions and responses. Learning the ‘why’ behind your actions is an excellent first step.

        7. Call Your Competitor

        Your service reps are responsible for keeping customers from running to your competitors. This makes it only fair that your team should know what they're up against.

        Have your team call your competitor‘s customer service line, and if possible, purchase one of its products or free trials. Ask routine questions and pay attention to different details during the call, like the rep’s tone, the cadence of their voice, how quickly they could provide an answer, what type of follow-up options they offered, etc. These interactions will set the standard that your team will have to surpass.

        8. Employee Testimonials

        Your most experienced reps are some of your team‘s most valuable resources. They’ve seen your product and company grow with its customer base and have been present for all the speed bumps and roadblocks. Use their stories as testimonials for how your new reps should treat customers.

        For example, if a rep had a positive interaction with a customer, have that employee talk about that call and what they did to create such a delightful experience. Or, if the interaction is significantly negative, discuss the missteps that were taken and what could be done next time to avoid a similar outcome. This exercise can help reps master the soft skills that can dramatically impact a customer service case.

        9. Attitude Anchors

        The attitude anchors activity helps reps manage their emotions. Split your team into groups and have each one brainstorm two different types of anchors: maintenance anchors and repair anchors.

        Maintenance anchors are actions that can be taken to maintain a positive attitude. Reps use These things during a call to keep them motivated and optimistic. Here are a few examples of maintenance anchors:

        • Manage work-life balance by spending time with friends and family after work.
        • Bring your best self to work by getting enough sleep each night.
        • Reduce stress by reminding yourself of three things or people you're grateful for daily.

        Repair anchors are things that can be done to fix negative attitudes. These activities are performed after a call so reps can quickly bounce back and work with another customer. Every rep will have a bad call, and it's important to not carry their negative emotions into the next one. Repair anchors might look something like this:

        • After a difficult call with a customer, take a walk around the block.
        • When you‘re unable to solve a problem for your customer, give yourself positive affirmations like “I did my best, and I’m proud of that.”
        • If you feel less motivated than usual, talk with a coworker or family member you admire to lift your spirits.

        Once each list is built, hang them up so reps can easily see them. That way, they can use each exercise when applicable during their workday.

        10. Customer Letters

        If reps feel undervalued by your customers or upper management, have them write customer letters. These are letters written from the customer's perspective and addressed to the customer service employee.

        This exercise lets reps reflect on all the good things they‘ve done for their customers. And that’s important, too, because it can often be hard to measure the value that customer service reps bring to a business. However, when they think about it on a customer-to-customer scale, it becomes much easier to see how important your team is to your organization.

        Free Customer Support Training Template

        Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

        • Training Timeline
        • People to Meet
        • 100 Day Goals
        • And More!
        Learn more

          Download Free

          All fields are required.

          You're all set!

          Click this link to access this resource at any time.

          customer service training ideas

          1. Shadow support calls.

          Whether you're training a new rep or a more experienced one, shadowing support calls is a hands-on way for them to understand a few things about how your company handles service interactions.

          First, they‘ll get a sense of the types of calls that come in. After enough calls, they’ll start to predict some of the most common issues.

          Next, it‘ll become clear to your reps which solutions work best for specific situations. For example, while there’s probably a helpful knowledge base article written on troubleshooting common product failures, the better solution in the moment may be to walk the customer through the fix rather than sharing a step-by-step document.

          Finally, new and experienced reps will catch on to the cadence of the rep's conversation with various customers. Some may want to get straight to the point without much small talk, while other customers will appreciate the representative building rapport with them.

          2. Review customer service standards.

          As your team acclimates to customer service processes and procedures, they must maintain your company‘s service standards. Sometimes, standards can fall by the wayside when meeting a quota, which is the immediate goal for the team each week. Having casual conversations about your company’s customer service standards counts as training, and it's a simple way to keep this critical goal at the core of your processes and daily activities.

          A Slack message, email, or quick statement in a stand-up meeting are all ways to keep customer service standards at the forefront of everyone's minds.

          3. Cover specific trainings quickly.

          Microlearning breaks down employee training into manageable chunks, which helps reps learn faster and apply those teachings quickly. By using short training sessions, ideally under 30 minutes, service reps will be more inclined to participate and retain more information afterward.

          Microlearning can be used to cover specific training areas much faster than you could with an hour-long training covering several different topics. Microlearning training sessions can cover topics such as the most common customer complaint or a documentation process.

          4. Practice being a good customer.

          One of the best ways to build empathy is by taking on the customer's perspective. What better way to do this than by recognizing good customer service daily?

          There's an interesting case to be made that being a good customer begets great customer service. Making eye contact, smiling, and being amicable can go a long way to getting the best service from a customer representative.

          Once you do receive this world-class service, study the reps‘ techniques. How do they answer your questions? Do they confirm your issue so they can offer the best solution? All of these factors and more can be uncovered just by being a customer yourself. The best part is that you can immediately apply what you’ve learned from those interactions with your customers during your next calls.

          5. Conduct rapid-fire product Q&A.

          Any great customer service rep knows their products like the back of their hand. Testing this knowledge can be a fun and competitive way to get the team on board for customer service training.

          6. Host scenario discussions.

          As a manager, you can review your knowledge base or product playbooks to create trivia-style questions that reps can answer individually or on teams. The friendly competition and gamification of the training session can help reps confirm what they already know and retain what they don't so that after the game is over, they can apply their product knowledge when offering solutions to customer issues.

          Scenario discussions create an interactive icebreaker, especially if you‘re training a large group. You’ll begin by creating a handful of scenarios, each one involving a different customer issue. There's no solution included in the scenario.

          Next, break the group into smaller teams to discuss the scenario. Then, each group will decide on a course of action to help the customer in the given situation. After all the solutions have been decided among the groups, bring everyone together and have one representative from each team read their scenario aloud and explain how they'd solve it. This training idea can be done virtually or in person with large or small groups.

          7. Show rather than tell.

          Panopto discovered in a 2019 study that employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than read text. Couple this finding with the microlearning statistics we mentioned earlier, and you'll have a powerful training tool that your team will be inclined to use.

          Showing your team how to follow a process using a short video clip can be much more effective than sending them a step-by-step email (although that extra resource couldn't hurt!). Showing the problem and the solution in the same video can make the context of the training more apparent, especially if you add a voiceover to the video. Tools like Loom and Zoom can make video training quick and easy.

          8. Review knowledge base materials.

          Most customers look to your self-service options to solve their issues with your products before they pick up the phone or type an email to your customer service team.

          This training tip covers two goals in one. First, your reps can review the materials in your knowledge base to better solve customer problems. After all, if you're sending your customers to the knowledge base, it should be up-to-date and helpful.

          In the case that it needs some work, the second goal can be accomplished. Your reps will notice outdated or inaccurate information that can be updated to provide a better self-service experience for the customer.

          Free Customer Support Training Template

          Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

          • Training Timeline
          • People to Meet
          • 100 Day Goals
          • And More!
          Learn more

            Download Free

            All fields are required.

            You're all set!

            Click this link to access this resource at any time.

            9. Start a mentorship program.

            As a manager, you can‘t be everywhere at once, no matter how hard you try. Training should be an ongoing priority on your team, whether you oversee all aspects of it or if you delegate parts to team members that are best suited to carry them out. One way to do this is by starting a mentorship program on your customer service team. Whether it’s a formal pairing or a more casual connection, you can rely on more experienced reps to help train those just starting out.

            Many of the tips, topics, and ideas we‘ve mentioned thus far can help your team provide exceptional customer service from the customer’s perspective. But what about training to help the team work better together?

            10. Request feedback.

            After each training session, you'll want to request feedback from the team to assess whether the method, content, or delivery were helpful or harmful to their learning. This data can be collected quantitatively through a rating system or qualitatively in an open-ended survey. No matter the format, receiving feedback on your training program is a primary way to make it better so your reps can do the work they do best.

            Next, we'll discuss some tips designed to help make customer service training more effective and “sticky.”

            Customer Service Training Tips


            1. Start with a mission.

            Customer experience is common, so nearly everyone has a conception of what “good” customer service looks like. However, those conceptions may not be concrete enough or align with the vision you have for your organization.

            With that in mind, start by setting expectations so everyone begins on the same page. Define the mission and big picture as well as their role within it.

            2. Double down on communication training.

            Customers don't simply want their problems solved; they want to be heard. Practicing active listening and communication techniques is paramount to delivering great experiences, and by cultivating these skills among your team, you're setting them up for success.

            Even better, if you touch on these concepts early, they'll be equipped with new skills to practice during the rest of the training (which is a win-win for you as the trainer).

            3. Make training fun and engaging.

            People learn in different ways. There are visual learners, auditory learners, kinesthetic learners, and more. That means that sitting new employees down in front of a training video will not be enough for maximum retention and, even worse, could result in a snooze fest.

            To make your training effective, you must engage your reps. This can be done with interactive elements designed to keep them on their toes and interested in the material. Don't be afraid to have fun with it, either.

            4. Connect training to real-life scenarios.

            If you do end up using games or other alternative methods to teach certain concepts, always circle back to reinforce the mission and its role. This helps strengthen their understanding of the concept so they can apply it in their day-to-day.

            Shadow sessions and role plays are great for this reason. They can get a feel for real-life scenarios they‘ll encounter before they’re immersed in them.

            5. Emphasize the process.

            In an unfamiliar situation, a familiar process may help new reps spread their wings and own their role. In other words, knowing what to do when they don't know what to do will empower them to take on unfamiliar situations.

            That‘s why it’s essential to have processes and systems in place and emphasize adopting those early on.

            6. Supply robust internal resources.

            Reps won't remember everything from training; getting out there and doing it is what helps retention and build competency.

            Therefore, they should always be encouraged to turn to any available resources for help. Wikis, knowledge bases, and other forms of internal documentation can help reps help themselves (if those resources are organized and maintained).

            7. Provide ongoing training.

            It's also easy for reps to stagnate or develop bad habits. Ensure that you provide ample continuing education to reinforce what they learned in onboarding and further develop their skills.

            Customer Service Ideas for Reps

            1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

            If you have the opportunity to actually use your company’s product, you should take it. When I worked in HubSpot Support, I used my HubSpot Portal to build a personal blog and as a CRM for my side hustle (now my main hustle).

            The hands-on experience I gained from using the product myself was invaluable in building expertise and, more importantly, empathy for customers as they tackled challenges I was familiar with. There’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty, and having some skin in the game accelerates your product knowledge and benefits the customers you interact with.

            2. Crack a smile when talking to customers on the phone.

            It may seem silly, but in my experience, it sets a positive tone to the interaction that customers can feel, even if they can’t see your face. During my time in customer support, I intentionally brought a friendly, bright, helpful attitude to the table with my customers.

            After a while, I realized I was always smiling when I picked up the phone. It wasn’t even on purpose, but it’s nearly impossible not to smile when you’re trying to be kind and helpful. So, if you’re having an off-day or just working on developing your customer service voice, try showing off those pearly whites through the phone!

            3. Anticipate your customers' needs.

            The difference between good and great customer service is helping your customers succeed, not just solving their problems. In my experience, anticipating customer needs and offering tips and hacks for success with your product is a recipe for delight.

            If you notice a feature your customer hasn’t taken advantage of or a way to optimize workflow, let them know! Customers will appreciate the collaborative effort.

            4. Address customers by name.

            When communicating with customers via chat, email, and especially over the phone, address them by name. Everyone likes hearing their name. Our brains are naturally wired for it. Hearing your name elicits an emotional response of recognition and validation.

            When working with customers, addressing them by name strengthens the personal connection between you, them, and your brand. This simple gesture makes them feel special and well taken care of.

            Outside of blog post writing, I’m a professional bassist. When I show up at a gig, and the sound engineer makes an effort to learn and calls me by my name, it immediately puts me at ease and makes me feel confident that everything will go smoothly. That’s how you want your customers to feel whenever they touch base with your business, so don’t be a stranger and call them by their names!

            5. Admit your mistakes.

            Everybody is human, and we all make mistakes. If you or your company makes a mistake when dealing with a customer, own up to it, apologize sincerely, and reassure the customer of your dedication to their success. You know what they say: honesty is the best policy. Customers will appreciate it if you display authenticity and honesty, especially in a difficult situation.

            I’ve personally had negative customer service experiences where I felt like I was given the runaround. It’s a very frustrating experience to feel like you're being kept in the dark.

            For the most part, people are reasonable. If you are upfront and honest when issues arise, 99% of the time, customers will be understanding and patient. It’s only when met with deflection and vagueness that tensions tend to flare up.

            6. Show and tell.

            When working with customers, you typically type out a paragraph or explain something verbally over the phone. Usually, that’s the way to go. However, sometimes you need to detail a multi-step process or explain a complex feature.

            This is especially relevant if you support a software product or are helping customers navigate a web portal. Consider sending detailed, annotated screenshots and screen recordings in cases like this. You can even record audio over your screen recordings to narrate all the steps of a process.

            When I worked in customer support at HubSpot, I would often screen share with customers to visually walk through more complex processes. Not only is this a time-saving measure, but it sets the customer up for success with success with your product as they will be better equipped to help themselves in the future.

            7. Reward loyal customers.

            There’s nothing quite as exciting as a free gift or a discount, especially if it's a surprise! Consider surprising your most loyal customers with a discount code for no other reason than to show them you care.

            I recently received a complimentary dish from my favorite local tapas restaurant just for being a regular customer. I’ll tell you what: All it took to go from loyal customer to evangelist was some patatas bravas.

            8. Send handwritten thank you notes.

            Hardly anyone writes letters anymore. Why would you? You can send an email or a text to get your point across. That’s why you should take the extra time and effort to send handwritten thank-you notes the old-fashioned way. Show your best customers how much you care by surprising them with a handwritten note thanking them for their continued support.

            I run a musical instrument rental company, and whenever I send out an amp or a guitar, I sneak in a little handwritten note thanking the customer for their business. I think it's a nice touch that makes customers feel good about doing business with you.

            Free Customer Support Training Template

            Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

            • Training Timeline
            • People to Meet
            • 100 Day Goals
            • And More!
            Learn more

              Download Free

              All fields are required.

              You're all set!

              Click this link to access this resource at any time.

              9. Make your support as fast and easy as possible.

              One of the best ways to demonstrate customer appreciation is to show that you value their time. Time is money, and everyone is strapped for it these days. Strive to make your response time as quick as possible. Use tools like email templates and automated chatbots to streamline the customer service experience as much as possible while retaining a personal touch.

              I recently had a customer service experience where they resolved my issue in the first email reply, which arrived less than two hours after I submitted the request. I was thrilled, and I guarantee your customers will be too if you can solve their issues with efficiency and care.

              10. Offer social media support.

              Customers often reach out to brands on social media when they seek an almost immediate reply. Ensure you can handle these requests with a dedicated social media support team or representative. Focus on clear, quick replies and be ready to move the conversation off of the platform if necessary.

              Customers often turn to social media to lodge public complaints about a brand. If you find yourself in that situation, reply quickly (ideally within 24 hours) and employ an empathetic, helpful tone. Moving the conversation from a public thread to DMs is also best practice.

              I was a member of the Twitter support team during my time at HubSpot. Not only did we respond to questions when we were directly tagged, but we also used social listening software to discover opportunities for proactive support.

              11. Actively listen.

              Active listening can be the difference between a decent customer support experience and an exceptional one.

              Active listening is more than just hearing what your customer has to say. It’s about fully understanding the message the customer is portraying and empathizing with them. You need to give your full attention to the customer to understand their needs and respond appropriately.

              I like to think of active listening as listening with the intent to understand, not to respond. In my experience, actively listening to customers makes them feel valued, heard, and understood. You can practice active listening by paraphrasing.

              Listen closely to what your customer is saying and reiterate it back to them. This will help you get clarity on what exactly their needs are and ensure you are both on the same page.

              12. Take a look in the mirror.

              Keep a mirror somewhere on your desk and glance at it while you’re on the phone with customers. The mirror won’t lie about whether you're actively engaged. It will serve as a reminder to maintain a smiley, positive attitude on the phone. It also dramatically reduces the chances of getting caught with spinach between your teeth after lunch.

              13. Help customers help themselves.

              Some customers want you to solve their issues and get on with their day. That’s totally cool. However, some customers prefer to help themselves. You can facilitate that by offering an extensive knowledge base and directing customers towards relevant articles.

              You may also want to screenshare with customers or take them step-by-step through the solution to their issue so they can tackle it themselves in the future.

              I’m one of those customers who likes to help themselves, and learning how to handle a problem on my own makes me feel empowered and excited to keep working with a product or service.

              14. Give out some swag.

              Everybody likes swag — fun items you can slap your branding on and give to customers for free. Think t-shirts, phone cases, stickers, pens, coasters, and more. The more creative you can get with it, the better. Consider giving free swag to your most loyal customers, customers who worked through a difficult issue with you, or even including fun freebies in the box with every item sold.

              My favorite piece of swag is a free t-shirt from Huel in 2017. The shirt's design is nothing special, but something about the fit is just spot on. It’s been my go-to workout shirt for years now. So, invest a little extra in your swag, and you may end up with a whole division of free brand reps!

              15. Stay positive.

              It‘s not what you say but how you say it. Maintaining a positive attitude and tone is crucial to success as a customer service representative, especially when confronted with difficult situations and frustrated customers. Positive language and an optimistic outlook can be the difference between customers coming away from an interaction disappointed or singing your brand’s praises.

              Maintaining positivity can be challenging, especially when work piles up and life gets stressful. For me, gratitude is key. Try adopting a morning meditation routine.

              Even just five minutes, when you quiet your mind and think of a few things you are grateful for, can do wonders towards a positive outlook for the day. I like to follow that up with some yoga stretches and breathwork. After that, it’s almost impossible not to look at the glass half full!

              16. Use customer service templates.

              While personalization is key to high-level customer service, that doesn’t mean you can’t use templates to streamline your responses. Consider using email and chat response templates that save time on typing out things like greetings, introductions, and sign-offs.

              You can use HubSpot Templates to automatically fill out customer details using personalization tokens to save you even more time.

              I use HubSpot Templates for my business to streamline my customer service and sales outreach emails, and the amount of time saved adds up!

              Customer Service Training Your Team Will Love

              Outside of team meetings, there are plenty of online resources that customer support and service reps can use to keep improving. Whether your customer service team is short on time or completely remote, these topics, tips, and ideas will surely get your reps excited and motivated to deliver the best service to your customers. A mix of interactive, team-oriented, and role play activities will keep training enjoyable for your reps so they understand and remember the information.

              If you're ready to plan your next customer service training session, use the template below to get started.

              Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

              New Call-to-action

              Related Articles

              Pop up for DOWNLOAD NOW: FREE CUSTOMER SUPPORT TRAINING TEMPLATE FREE CUSTOMER SUPPORT TRAINING TEMPLATE

              Train and onboard your new customer support hires with this downloadable template.

                Pop up for DOWNLOAD NOW: FREE CUSTOMER SUPPORT TRAINING TEMPLATE FREE CUSTOMER SUPPORT TRAINING TEMPLATE

                Service Hub provides everything you need to delight and retain customers while supporting the success of your whole front office

                START FREE OR GET A DEMO