It's no surprise that successful companies have powerful customer service teams. After all, customer service is the backbone of many strong brands as it ensures positive relationships between customers and employees.
However, striving for excellence in customer service can be extremely vague. What defines "excellent" customer service? What metrics can you use to gauge this? And, how do you know when you have achieved excellence?
There's a lot of factors at play, so below we've curated a list of what we believe are the keys to excellent customer service. You can use these points to improve your company's service offers and set your team on the path to success.
What Is the Key to Excellence in Customer Service?
1. Know your brand inside and out.
You can't sell something you don't know. Every customer service rep should be trained on the ins and outs of your company before communicating with customers. This doesn't mean just learning how to use help desk software. Service reps should be well-informed brand ambassadors who understand and emulate the brand's mission, values, and goals.
2. Anticipate needs.
Customer service should be proactive as well as reactive. While responding to incoming inquiries is important, it's equally imperative to anticipate roadblocks before they arise. This means alerting customers to changes and errors before they submit complaints and sending out product updates as soon as they're available. This proactive customer service builds trust with your customer base and demonstrates your team's commitment to its goals.
3. Learn from every interaction.
Your service team should treat every customer conversation like it's a learning experience. When they listen and learn from your customers, they cultivate a mutually-beneficial relationship that helps them understand your target audience. Even if a call goes poorly and a customer is upset, they should think about one thing they've learned from the experience, so next time they can better approach the situation.
4. Admit when you've made a mistake.
Sometimes, it's hard for reps to swallow their pride and admit their mistakes. However, this is crucial for building honest relationships with customers. They want to know that your brand is transparent, honest, and human and admitting and apologizing when you've made a mistake can end up improving customer satisfaction. After all, customers would rather you make an error and own up to it than preach perfection and not live up to their expectations.
5. Practice active listening.
As reps become more experienced, they start to encounter similarities between service cases. As soon as they hear a familiar problem, they cut the customer off and jump into troubleshooting. While they may think they're being efficient, this makes them look rude, impatient, and arrogant. Let customers have time to fully explain what's been going on as this will prove that you respect what they have to say and that you're taking their problem seriously.
6. Don't just tell, but teach.
For many service reps, it can seem more efficient to immediately solve a customer's problem, then move along with their day. However, a more sustainable solution is to educate customers on how to solve the problem. So, if the issue arises again, they'll know how to manage it on their own.
7. Remain positive, on and off the phone.
Your team knows that it's important to be positive when communicating with customers. However, your attitude outside of calls is just as important as it is on calls. If reps speak negatively of customers when chatting with coworkers that negativity will flow into customer conversations. Even if they have a difficult call, service reps should always speak highly of their customers to maintain an empathetic approach.
8. Know when to put yourself first.
You may have heard this expression: The customer is always right. While this is a good mindset to have, there are times when this might not be the case. If a customer is harming your business by consistently attacking your employees, it might be time to fire the customer. Remember, employees are one of your most prized assets, and hard-working, dedicated team members should be protected at all costs.
If you want to see what excellent service looks like, read through some good customer service stories.
Originally published Aug 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2021