How To Improve Customer Service (Key Steps)

By Ruth Favela
The 8 steps needed to improve customer service

Improving customer service isn’t the job of one single department within a business, it’s a company-wide endeavor and it starts with making service a core value you believe and invest in.

When a business successfully values delivering excellent customer service it’s easier to take actionable steps toward making things better and working to resolve customer issues. 

In today’s world, it’s not enough to deliver great products or services if the experience you’re giving customers isn’t one they want to be part of. In fact, customers are now claiming to stick with brands who offer them the experience they want—just one bad interaction sends customers to your competitors.

We know that improving relationships between businesses and customers is difficult work, but improving customer service is the best place to start. No matter how great your product or service is, the most memorable aspect of your business is how you treat customers.

Companies and teams looking to improve customer service are on the right track to meet customer needs, expectations, and desires. In this blog we break down the key steps and tactics needed to improve customer service.

1. Understand Customer Needs

These days, businesses are on a mission to better understand their customers and their expectations. When they can do this, companies are in a better position to gain valuable insight into how they can improve customer interactions, provide feedback for products and services, and overall improve the customer experience. In order to improve customer service, you first need to understand your customers’ needs and be willing to take action on their feedback.

Some companies make an effort to better understand customer needs by increasing efforts to collect feedback whether it’s through social listening, direct surveys to track NPS and CSAT, and even doing interviews with them. Others also keep track of competitors to see why customers go to other brands. Once this data is collected, brands can now analyze to figure out what customers still need and want and use that to improve customer service.

2. Provide Solutions

It’s no secret that customers come to you for your solutions, whether it’s in the form of an actual product or service. What might be a little harder to guess at is that the relationship between you and your customers doesn’t end after a sale. Providing solutions for your customers goes beyond the POS and should be part of an ongoing relationship and engagement campaign.

In order to improve customer service you need to be able to provide solutions to your customers in a way that meets their needs, when they need it, and where they need it. This could mean expanding customer service teams to more territories in order to provide support across various time zones. It could also mean implementing self-service tools that increase customer service agent bandwidth and enable customers with more support channels. More solutions for customers could also mean growing your knowledge base to cover more topics and questions about your service or product.

Improving customer service comes down to providing solutions that solve customer concerns. 

3. Communicate Clear Expectations

In Customer Success, setting and managing expectations is incredibly important, both with customers and team members. Being able to communicate clearly is essential to providing first-class customer service, especially when you’re dealing with customers from all over the globe. And training customer service agents on how to communicate effectively with your customers is one of the most important things you can do for your customers and business efforts overall.

Being able to set and manage clear expectations means communicating the reality of what a support agent can deliver for customers, and also what the product itself can deliver for them. Communicating clear expectations can improve customer service because from the get-go customers are aware of the possible outcomes and can expect their service to go a certain way. 

4. Reduce Redundant Tasks With Automation

Think of the last time you sought out customer support. What was that process like? Was it seamless or did you run into a few bumps along the way? We’re sure you can agree that there was room for improvement, whether in the delivery of the information you needed or in the process you went through to obtain it. 

The world of customer service would benefit greatly from reducing redundant tasks with automation—for both customer and support representatives. Customers often seek support for questions that could easily be answered with a knowledge article or similar, but the options for support they’re presented with either result in them waiting too long for a response or they can’t find an answer to start with.  

By implementing tools that reduce redundant tasks with automation you can help customers with simple queries, and more importantly free up time for agents that increase their bandwidth to do more with less. Automation removes the need for manual ticket labeling and triaging, helps consolidate company knowledge, and can even provide agents with an assistant to respond to more tickets faster—all in an effort to improve customer service. 

5. Improve Response times

One of the best ways we suggest businesses improve customer service is by implementing tools and customer experience and business strategies that allow for improved responses. One solution that many businesses are taking within their support organization and customer support teams is automating redundant tasks that allow for increased response times. 

By automating the most redundant and repetitive tasks of a support agent, teams are able to remove the manual tasks of labeling and routing tickets as well as responding to repetitive customer support tickets that can easily be answered within an AI-powered chat widget. By using such tools teams are also able to provide 24/7 customer support that helps offer customers the support they need no matter the time of day or their location. 

6. Personalize Customer Service

How personalized is the customer experience your business is currently offering? Does every interaction with a customer make them feel like they’re valued and truly being listened to? Taking the time to engage with customers to find out what their pain points really are can help take your customer service to the next level. Your teams will be able to provide customers with the product or service options they need to fully meet their needs. 

Improving customer service through personalization means remembering who your customers are and treating them as individuals. Customers aren’t ticket numbers, they are real people who have engaged with your business in the past, are fueling your revenue, and are seeking solutions you can provide for them. Personalizing engagements and interactions can look like using customer names and information, (which agents already have access to) to deliver a more customized experience in every interaction.

7. Invest in Customer Service Training

Improving customer service starts with enabling your teams with the proper tools to do more with less and investing in customer service training that allows customer service representatives to deliver better support and truly understand the individual needs of the customers who seek out assistance from your teams. Investing in customer service training should be part of the overall customer service strategy that keeps agents performing and doing good work. 

Customer service training is coaching that employees receive with the goal of improving support and satisfaction among customers. Strong customer service training programs usually include exercises and training for improving interpersonal communication, product knowledge, conflict resolution, crisis management, and more. Depending on the type of business you’re part of, the training you provide agents might differ from another organization.

8. Leverage Customer Data For Improvements

WIth the help of advanced technologies available in this day and age, we can uncover actionable insights into how we can improve products, services, and processes for our customers. One way that businesses can improve customer service is by leveraging their customer data to find gaps in what you’re currently providing. Collecting data that helps you better understand customers allows you to tailor product enhancements and business pivots toward those who are asking for them. 

Leveraging data for customer improvements can benefit teams in three ways—it can allow agents to provide better support in individual interactions, it can provide businesses insight into customer needs and the success of interactions at the current point in time, and it can help provide insight to provide customer churn. 

9. Proactively Seek Customer Feedback

To improve customer service you should be taking points from the people that have been on the receiving end of that service. It’s important to be actively listening to your customer’s feedback in order to improve customer service and it’s equally important to continually and proactively seek out that feedback.

Listening to your customer’s feedback is good for a few reasons; it makes people feel valued, heard, and understood and also leaves them feeling positive about your brand. Even if a customer has something negative to say, leaving with an opportunity to leave their feedback has a positive impact. It’s important to remember that good customer feedback generates positive reviews and bad customer feedback generates opportunities for improvement.

Being proactive about seeking customer feedback can look like measuring customer metrics such as NPS and CSAT and sending out surveys to find out customer pain points. This information can strategically be used to find customer-centric solutions that benefit both customers and the company.

10. Build a Customer-First Culture

We’ve all heard “the customer is always right,” and it’s not because the customer is literally always correct but because businesses have been trying to put the customer first for a very long time.

In order to achieve high customer satisfaction and keep customer churn low, you must place a strong emphasis on treating your customers well, providing them with the solutions they need, and readily being available to help meet their needs.

To improve customer service, businesses must build a customer-first culture where they’re focused on pivoting to customer needs and empowering employees to build that culture from within. In today’s environment, 90% of consumers use customer service to make purchasing decisions and 84% of businesses that focus on improving their CX have better financial outcomes than their competition. It pays off to improve your CX.

Frequently Asked Questions About Improving Customer Service

What Are The 3 Most Important Things In Customer Service?

The three most important things in customer service have been referred to as the “three P’s;” they are: showing professionalism, having patience, and keeping a people-first attitude. In order to improve CX, customer service representatives and employees must be trained to stay professional in all situations, have patience with all customers, and maintain that people-first, customers-first attitude you want to incorporate into your core company values. When employees are trained with the three p’s in mind, they’ll be able to boost customer satisfaction and contribute to company culture.

How Can You Improve Customer Service In The Workplace?

Customer service in the workplace typically refers to how employees interact with one another. Improving customer service in the workplace is similar to doing so with your customers. With customers we hope to create a positive customer experience that leaves people feeling valued and understood. They want to know we’re making an effort to hear them out and truly solve their issues by taking their input into consideration.

In the workplace we hope to improve customer service by taking into account how we want to treat our customers and honing in on the three P’s of customer service—professionalism, patience, and a people-first attitude. Improving customer service can be done through listening to colleagues, showing professionalism in all situations, encouraging feedback to take action towards growth, and engaging in being helpful where needed.

What Is An Example Of Good Customer Service?

According to Shep Hyken, Customer Service Expert, providing good customer services that “amazes” your customers simply entails providing consistently average service.

The key to providing good customer support is being consistent. Consistency can be achieved with proper training and proper technology implementation such as AI. With the help of customer support AI, any interaction with customer support can positively impact customers and help them find the solutions they are after. AI has many benefits to customer service improvement and ultimately helps both customers and employees.

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