10 Golden Rules for Providing Successful Customer Service

The 10 Golden Rules Defined and Paired with Corresponding Customer Service Solutions

Jul 30, 2019 | 4 comments

“Treat others as you would want to be treated.”

This isn’t a new or novel concept. It’s The Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule applies to customer service just as it applies to life.

Mammoth companies like Apple, Amazon, and FedEx have made customer service best practices an indispensable pillar of their business strategy, and their reputation and profits are better for it.

But, the quality of a customer’s experience matters in any size business. Yours is no exception.

How many of the golden rules out of the ten listed below does your business follow?

goldenrules

 

1. Provide Quick Responses and Solid Answers

Customers don’t want to wait for answers, and your first answer should be the right one.

Statistics show that speed and accuracy are the two things that customers covet most.

66% of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience. @forrester Click To Tweet

According to a 2018 Forrester report, 66% of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience, and 69% shop more with retailers that offer consistent customer service both online and offline.

Solution:

Implement self-service options on your website, like an FAQ knowledge base, a 24/7 live chat service, or a chatbot.

These are all great ways to ensure your customers have access to answers and support around the clock.

A 24/7 online support option will also put your availability on par with that of larger companies.

In fact, 51% of consumers say a business needs to be available 24/7 (Inc.com).

In fact, 51% of consumers say a business needs to be available 24/7. @Inc #customerservice #customerjourney Click To Tweet

An additional benefit of knowledge management software is that it centralizes product information and company data.

This will guarantee your staff has fast, easy access to the right answers. It will also ensure your customers receive a consistent experience online and offline, regardless of which staff member they speak with.

Here’s a great article from Gladly that discusses the importance of self-service options:

 

2. Listen Well

Just like in any relationship, customers want to know that they are heard and understood.

According to a study conducted by Apptentive, 55% of consumers say they are not likely to continue buying from a company that ignores their feedback.

55% of consumers say they are not likely to continue buying from a company that ignores their feedback. @Apptentive #customerservice #customerexperience Click To Tweet

Thus, acknowledge their pain points and make an effort to relate to their struggle.  The simple act of listening can result in a satisfied customer and a positive brand impression.

Solution:

Make sure your staff is up to snuff on their communication skills.

According to a Harvard Business Review article by leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joeseph Folkman, good listening comes down to three key points.

In our experience, most people think good listening comes down to doing three things: Not talking when others are speaking, letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds, and being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word.”

 

3. Acknowledge That All Cases Are Not Equal

There will be times when established policies don’t fit the situation.

It’s inevitable. At some point, you will find yourself interacting with a customer that is experiencing extreme circumstances.

So, encourage your staff to empathize and reason like a person, not a corporation.

Your customers will appreciate that you’ve acknowledged a special case and offered a fair solution.

Solution:

Be able to adapt, and give your staff the power to do so as well (more on this at #10).

When a family emergency, natural disaster, serious illness or other unforeseen circumstance impacts a customer’s interaction with you, consider making an exception.

Customers that have an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, rather than the average rate of 45% (Motista).

Customers that have an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, rather than the average rate of 45%. @Motista Click To Tweet

Your flexibility could win you a customer for life.

 

4. Learn How to Apologize Well

No one can be right 100% of the time. You know it, and so do your customers.

One thing is guaranteed, mistakes will happen. The important thing is how you handle those mistakes.

According to LivePerson’s Connecting with Customers Report, 37% of customers are satisfied with service recovery when they are offered something of monetary value (e.g., a refund or credit). But when the business adds an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubles to 74%.

Value-of-Apology
Image Source: Groove

 

So, don’t just teach your team to apologize, teach them to apologize like rock stars.

Solution:

When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong.

Recognize when circumstances have turned for the worst, graciously accept the blame, and issue a great apology.

But, don’t just stop at “sorry.”

Go the extra mile to make the situation right, and make it a point to exceed the customer’s expectations.


Related Post: 6 things service reps should do when an angry customer calls


5. Appreciate Your Customers and Show Respect

Everyone loves to be thanked.

Unsurprisingly, 77% of consumers like when brands demonstrate their appreciation (TD Bank).

Customer Appreciation Statistics

 

However, gratitude shouldn’t just be expressed when a sale is made or a compliment is received.

Even negative feedback should be praised.

An outside perspective (be it positive or negative) can teach you things about your brand that you would have never realized on your own.

Keep in mind: 70% of companies that deliver a best in class customer experience use customer feedback to provide a better customer experience (Huffington Post).

70% of companies that deliver a best in class customer experience use customer feedback to provide a better customer experience. @HuffPost #customerexperience #customerservice Click To Tweet

Solution:

Always say thank you. No matter what.

Never let your customers walk away from an interaction without thanking them for their time and their business.

In addition, consider launching a customer loyalty program to reward them for their support.

Here 7 tips from Forbes on building a successful customer loyalty program:

 

6. Remember Them

In order to remember your customers, you have to get to know them. So, ask questions and pay attention to their habits.

According to Salesforce, 56% of customers don’t mind sharing their personal information in exchange for better service.

56% of customers don’t mind sharing their personal information in exchange for better service. @Salesforce #customerexperience #customerservice Click To Tweet

Therefore, if you make it clear that you will be utilizing collected information to their benefit, most customers will be willing to provide you with key details about themselves.

Any identifying information you receive should then be centrally stored and organized, so it can be easily accessed during future interactions.

Additionally, you should keep a log of each customer’s purchases, returns, exchanges and methods of contact. Big or small, every aspect of an interaction should be recorded.

Then, your team can use the gathered data to provide each customer with a personalized experience.

A survey conducted by Segment found that 44% of consumers say they will likely give a company repeat business after receiving a personalized experience.

Solution:

Data unification software like CRMs and email ticket systems are both great ways to centralize and manage customer data.

For instance, ticket systems allow businesses to manage customer emails and form submissions by archiving shoppers’ data for easy retrieval and updating.


In the same respect, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be used to combine information from every department to provide a holistic, company view of each customer in real-time.

Tools like these will allow you to build in-depth customer profiles and give your team the ability to treat customers like family.


Related Post: A Tool that Makes a Difference: Ticket Management System


7. Say Yes, Whenever Possible

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes! Then, learn how to do it later! – Richard Branson

As I mentioned earlier, every customer inquiry should be viewed as an opportunity. So, oblige your customers whenever possible.

When someone calls on your support staff for help, that person is searching for affirmation that positive resolution is possible.

So, first, assure them that you’ll find a way to solve their problem. Then, get to work solving it.

Solution:

Create a “yes” culture.

Of course, you can’t say “yes” to your customers 100% of the time. That would just be unrealistic. But, that doesn’t mean you have to say “no.”

Actually, you don’t have to use the word “no” at all. Instead, you can explain the reasons why you can’t give them exactly what they’re asking for.

Then, list a few alternative resolutions that you can say “yes” to.

Here’s a great article from Comm100 that will guide you through the no-to-yes transformation:

 

8. Invite Feedback & Accept Criticism

Your customers have great ideas right on the tips of their tongues. All you have to do is ask them to share their thoughts.

Not only will their feedback help you grow your business, but your company’s receptiveness will also have a positive impact on your brand’s reputation.

Brands are viewed more favorably by 77% of consumers if they proactively invite and accept customer feedback. @Microsoft #customerservice #customerexperience Click To Tweet

Brands are viewed more favorably by 77% of consumers if they proactively invite and accept customer feedback. (Microsoft)

Solution:

Make it easy for customers to provide you with their feedback by setting up post-call and post-chat surveys.

Just keep in mind that the amount of effort you put into creating the surveys will determine the value of the information you receive.

Customer experience expert, Annette Franz, recommends structuring customer surveys so that the feedback you receive is both “meaningful and actionable.”

Her article below will point you in the right direction:

 

9. Revise Tactics Based on Feedback

If you collect feedback and then do nothing with it, then why even bother?

52% of people around the globe believe that companies need to take action on feedback provided by their customers. (Microsoft)

52% of people around the globe believe that companies need to take action on feedback provided by their customers. @Microsoft #customerfeedback #customerservice Click To Tweet

As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” Making actual changes will let customers know you’re listening.

Solution:

Start by organizing and prioritizing the responses you receive.

Helpdesk auto-tagging is a great way to collect customer feedback, identify important trends, and pinpoint potential issues. This helpdesk feature can be utilized to monitor and categorize customer interactions across multiple channels including, live chat, email and voice calls.

Once actionable issues have been grouped in order of frequency and severity, then make a plan to alter your product and/or your customer roadmap accordingly.

Here’s a great video from Hunter Business Group that outlines the process of acting on customer feedback.

 

10. Value and Empower Your Customer Service Employees

Ahhh, number 10. Some would argue that this is the most important rule of all.

None of the above strategies will do you any good if don’t have an engaged staff.

In order for your employees to be engaged, they have to feel valued and empowered.

70% of employees ranked being empowered to take action at work when a problem or opportunity arose as an important element of their engagement (SHRM), and employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work (Salesforce).

Solution:

Give your employees the power to think on their feet and trust them to make the right calls.

If your staff is well-trained and well-informed, this shouldn’t be a problem.

The most popular methods to actively manage and drive employee engagement: drafting employee engagement surveys (55%), creating culture committees and events (29%), and offering employee resource groups (20%). (CultureIQ)

When this statistical data is broken down to its simplest form, it translates to 3 points:

  1. Surveys = Listen to your employees
  2. Committees and Events = Have a way to make them feel appreciated and rewarded
  3. Employee Resource Groups = Provide support and proper training

 

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Originally published Oct 15, 2013