What do Trader Joe’s, Apple, and Amazon have in common? They are all companies known for providing excellent customer service.
Whether it’s delivering hot food to an 89-year-old man during a winter storm, replacing a phone for no extra charge because it was taking too long to diagnose a problem, or accepting a textbook after the returns period had ended, these brands are committed to fostering better customer relationships.
However, good customer service doesn’t mean you have to give away products or services for free or bend the rules. There are many ways to build and maintain a strong customer service strategy.
Below are 29 customer service tips that will help you create memorable customer experiences every time.
Customer Service Tips For Providing Great Experiences
Here are some of the best customer service tips customer service and customer support teams can use to deliver great experiences and ensure customer success.
Tips on Personalizing the Customer Experience
1. Get to know your customers
Always ask customers for their name—and then use it. Today, more than half of customers expect companies to know their unique needs and expectations.
Knowing your customers’ personal details will help you get their attention and ensure they listen more attentively to what you have to say. Although a simple action, using someone’s name only happens 21% of the time in customer service.
When possible, you should also leverage data on past interactions to tailor experiences to customers’ specific profile attributes.
2. Speak like your customers
Whether you’re communicating with a customer via the phone, email, or social media platform, mimic their language to create affiliation.
For instance, if a customer asks, “is [product] available?” respond with “yes, [product] is available” as opposed to “yes, this product is in stock.” By using the same words as your customers, you can potentially increase their satisfaction.
One study asked two store clerks to mimic their customers and two store clerks not to mimic their customers. It found that mimicry led to a higher sales rate, better compliance with the clerks’ suggestions during the sales process, and better appraisal of the clerks and the shop.
Tips on Developing Skills
3. Be knowledgeable about your product/service
31% of customers think that a knowledgeable customer service representative is the most important factor of a great customer service experience. Product/service knowledge is an essential customer service skill that can both make your team sound more competent and improve your customer interactions.
4. Give credibility to customers’ complaints
Few people enjoy contacting customer service representatives about an issue they’ve encountered. Acknowledge this by validating how a customer feels.
A simple phrase like “I understand how [annoyed/frustrated/disappointed/etc.] [the problem] must be” can make the customer feel heard, seen, and served.
5. Respond promptly and prioritize first contact resolution
When customers encounter a problem, they want it to be solved quickly.
As many as 90% of customers say an “immediate” (within 10 minutes or so) response to their question is crucial or very important to them. The better the response rate, the better their customer experience.
In addition to responding quickly, customer service teams should also strive for first-touch resolutions. By resolving customer concerns and issues without escalating them to someone else or having to call back the customer at a different time or date, teams can improve user satisfaction and increase efficiency and productivity.
Research shows that for every 1% increase in first touch resolution results, businesses can expect a 1% rise in customer satisfaction.
6. Keep your cool
Over a third of customers admit to getting angry while talking to customer service agents. The important thing to remember here is that they’re not necessarily angry at the interaction but rather at the problem they’ve encountered.
Rather than getting frustrated or even argumentative yourself and inadvertently escalating the situation further, make an effort to gain as much insight from the customer as possible so that you can solve their problem.
To quote the American entrepreneur Alan Weiss, “Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.”
7. Correct customers (the right way)
When a customer makes a claim that you know isn’t true, you may feel the need to correct them. However, the last thing you want to do is make a customer feel like an idiot. Your job is to try and solve their problem, not prove that you’re right.
Unless there’s an actual benefit to correcting a customer (for example, if they got the pricing wrong), it may be better to just keep quiet. If you do need to correct them, consider using the “validate-clarify-continue” technique:
- Validate their belief. “It does seem like [something] should [work like this], doesn’t it?”
- Clarify. “But for some reason [it’s like this].”
- Continue. “Do you know how to [use/find/do this]?”
Whatever you do, avoid starting your sentences with “actually” and “like I told you before.”
8. Know how to apologize
While it’s essential that you accept responsibility and apologize to customers for a negative experience, how you do this matters.
Avoid statements like “I’m sorry but,” “we apologize for the inconvenience,” and “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Instead, say, “I’m sorry you had to experience [the problem.] Follow this with an explanation of why the problem happened in the first place, and tell the customer what you’re going to do to rectify it.
9. Practice active listening
Pay attention when customers tell you their problems. By actively listening to their concerns, you’re more likely to understand the issue at hand and be able to find an effective solution.
Show customers that you’re listening by using conversation cues like “okay,” “uh-huh,” and “yes,” as well as phrases like:
- “Do you mean…?”
- “It sounds like…”
- “Did I get this right...?”
Once a customer is done telling you the problem, repeat it back to them in your own words to ensure you understood it correctly.
10. Close the conversation appropriately
Closing a conversation in a professional, friendly, and polite way can leave your customers with a lasting, positive impression of the customer service experience they received.
Before you close a conversation with a customer, make sure the problem has been resolved, the customer is aware of this and has no other queries. If the issue has not yet been resolved, be clear about what will happen next. Will you call them back? Do they have to do something? It’s imperative that the customer understands the next steps.
End the conversation by thanking the customer for their time and telling them that they can contact you at any time should they run into any other problems. You may also want to follow up with them to see if there’s anything else you can do.
Tips on Improving Communication with Customers
11. Be friendly
A customer service team member could provide exceptional service in regards to how they solve a customer’s problem, but if they’re not friendly, then a customer won’t be satisfied.
Close to three-quarters of customers say they’re loyal to a company because of its friendly customer service agents.
12. Be concrete
Many customer service agents use abstract language, for example:
- “The package should arrive soon” versus “the package will come by Wednesday.”
- “I can help you with that” versus “I can help you fix the issue you are having with [user interface/booking platform/etc.]
- “Refund” versus “money.”
According to marketing professor Jonah Berger who co-authored the paper “How Concrete Language Shapes Customer Satisfaction,” this is a mistake. Canned responses do not inspire much confidence in customers. The reason why is that abstract language does not make it clear to customers that an agent actually grasped their problem.
Conversely, speaking in a more concrete language can make people feel like an agent is “closer” to them. When a customer representative uses specific language, it shows that they are really listening and understand customer needs.
13. Portray positive body language
In the 1960s, Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, developed a theory in which he proposed that 55% of communication is made up of body language. According to him, just 7% of what we communicate consists of the words we say. He attributed the remaining 38% to a person’s tone, like the volume and intonation.
Whether customer service representatives are interacting with customers face-to-face or over video chat, being in control of your body language can contribute to a delightful experience.
Some of the ways you can send positive signals to customers via your body include:
- Smile when appropriate.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Sit or stand up straight.
- Don’t cross your arms or legs.
- Face the customer.
- Avoid fidgeting or making unnecessary movements.
14. Communicate clearly
Be clear when you’re speaking to a customer. In practice, this means speaking slowly, enunciating clearly, and avoiding technical jargon or slang.
When writing, use easy-to-understand formatting, i.e., short paragraphs with plenty of white space between them, and be concise. If you can communicate the same message in five words instead of ten, do so. The shorter the message, the easier it is (usually) to understand.
15. Don’t speak as part of a team
Although some customer service agents refer to themselves as “we” when speaking on behalf of their organization, studies suggest that speaking as an individual may be more beneficial. Customer service representatives that say “I” or “me” are usually seen as acting more on behalf of customers than those who say “we” or “us.”
One company found that after they switched to the singular voice, they had the potential to increase their sales by more than 7%.
16. Be consistent
“The three keys to customer experience success are consistency, consistency and consistency,” says customer service speaker Shep Hyken.
Consistency is a crucial part of a great customer service experience. A consistent experience is one where customers receive the same level of service and the same information regardless of who they’re talking to in the company or which channel they’re on.
Consistency inspires trust in customers. On the other hand, a lack of consistency can lead to customers feeling confused, frustrated, and annoyed.
To ensure consistency and avoid friction, organizations need to ensure that every customer service representative gets the same training and is equally empowered to solve customer issues, for example, by having access to the same information.
17. Be accountable
If you say to a customer that you’re going to do something, follow through. Promising to call a customer back within 24 hours or give them a 20% discount and then not actually doing so destroys trust. Customers won’t stay with a company they don’t feel like they can trust.
However, don’t feel pressured to go the extra mile. Research shows that as long as you meet customer expectations, it doesn’t matter whether you exceed them. On the other hand, customers do care if you break your promise.
18. Use positive language
The way you phrase your response could have a bigger impact on customers' satisfaction levels than you may realize.
Imagine this scenario. A customer wants to receive their order by Friday evening. Unfortunately, the fastest you can get it delivered to them is Monday morning. In this case, your instinct may be to say, “I’m sorry, we can’t deliver this to you by Friday.” However, a far better response would be, “Great news, we can get it delivered to you by Monday morning.”
Replace negative language with positive language, i.e., focus on what you can do for a customer rather than what you can’t do. In general, you want to avoid words like “can’t,” “won’t,” “don’t,” “no,” etc.
The same holds true for other statements. For instance, instead of saying “this is going to get tricky” when walking a customer through a solution, say, “this is where it’s going to get interesting.”
19. Replace “you” with “we”
Substitute “you” with “we” to make the customer feel as though you’re one team working to solve their problem collaboratively.
- First, please check… → First, let’s verify…
- Now, start by setting up… → Now, let’s start setting up…
- I need you to… → It’s best if we…
For more, check out how to build empathy in customer service.
20. Don’t say, “I don’t know”
There’s nothing wrong with not knowing an answer to a customer query. However, saying “I don’t know” to a customer doesn’t help them.
Customers don’t care whether you’re still in the onboarding phase or that they got in touch with the wrong department. They want someone to solve their problem — that’s why they contacted you in the first place.
That doesn’t mean you should guess for a customer. Don’t use phrases like “maybe,” “I’m pretty sure,” or “If I recall correctly.” Instead, say, “Great question. Let me find out for you right now.”
This will make the customer feel like they’re in good hands and help you focus on figuring out the solution.
Tips on Using Software Tools
21. Create a customer service knowledge base
Not all customer questions may require support from a customer agent. Some queries or issues may be so common that it’s worthwhile to create a knowledge base/documentation/faqs where users can find answers independently. Proactive customer service is anticipating consumer needs.
Already, most customers prefer to look for information on a company’s website rather than send an email or make a phone call. And at least 1 in 2 people say that being able to quickly and conveniently access support makes them fall in love with a brand.
By giving customers access to self-service, you empower them to find answers within minutes rather than expecting them to wait until someone on a customer service team has the time to respond.
22. Offer multiple communication channels
While phone calls remain customers’ preferred communication channel, they may not be the best option for everyone. Ideally, you want customers to be able to reach you across a variety of mediums.
Besides phone calls, customer service channels may include:
- Email. Email is easily accessible, allows customers to share documents and multimedia (for example, videos of defective products), and provides a written record of all interactions. Close to 1 in 2 Gen Z customers — the cohort that is predicted to eclipse Millennials as the biggest consumer group in the US by 2026 — choose email as their preferred customer service option.
- Chatbots. For immediate support, many customers turn to live chat. Live chat is Millennials’ preferred contact method.
- Video chat. When text on its own is not enough, customer agents can turn to video chat to pinpoint problems faster and deliver better solutions.
- Co-browsing. A step up from video chat, co-browsing solutions like RemoteHQ allow customers and agents to control the same web page at the same time. Rather than trying to explain a problem they encountered to a customer service agent, customers can actually show them the issue in real-time. Similarly, customer agents don’t need to walk the customer through the solution verbally — they can fix the problem on their behalf while the customer is watching. Co-browsing sessions can improve customer satisfaction by up to 89%.
- SMS text messaging. Customers like it when they can communicate with a business via text messages. 63% of users would switch to a brand that offered texting as a communication channel. The same number would also recommend the brand to friends.
- Social media. 1 in 2 companies sees an improvement in their customer service ratings after introducing social customer support, whether that’s on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Be careful, though. Customers expect prompt responses on social media. For instance, customers that complain on Twitter want an answer from a brand within an hour.
23. Provide omnichannel customer support
Regardless of how many communication channels a business has, they all must connect seamlessly. In other words, what a customer says and does with a team on one channel should be available to the team on another channel.
Omnichannel support means that customers don’t have to repeat themselves just because they switch channels. As many as 50% of users say that having to explain their problem over and over again to different agents is the most annoying thing about poor customer service.
Unsurprisingly, brands that offer strong omnichannel support retain 89% of their customers versus 33% for companies with weak omnichannel support.
24. Know when to use automation — and when not to
Some aspects of customer service, like confirmation emails, can and should be automated.
When done right, automation can reduce customer service costs (by up to 40%, according to McKinsey), allow 24/7 support, and minimize human error.
However, brands that rely too much on automation risk losing the personal touch that human interactions are known for. Three-quarters of customers say it takes far too long to reach a live customer representative.
25. Use the right tools
One of the reasons why customer service agents may not be able to provide the experience customers expect of them is the lack of effective tools. With the right customer service tools (and customer success platforms), templates, and software in place, you can streamline workflows and improve your customer journey.
However, here, a balance must be struck. Organizations need to be careful not to overwhelm their customer service teams with too many choices, as doing so could lead to a decline in productivity. Rather, businesses should invest in customer service tools that can do multiple things or integrate with other software.
RemoteHQ is not only a co-browsing solution but also a remote team collaboration software where agents can create their own “Workspace” with dedicated “rooms” for different teams, clients, and projects. Because workspaces and rooms are shareable, everyone on a team can access notes, chat logs, audio recordings, and more.
For example, if a customer service agent helps a particular customer with a query, they can document their entire interaction in a room, which will be accessible to everyone on the customer service team the next time the customer reaches out again.
RemoteHQ also integrates with tools like:
- CRM platform Salesforce.
- Video conferencing app Zoom.
- Word processing software Microsoft Word.
- List-making app Trello.
- Online video sharing platform Youtube.
- And others.
Tips on Designing a Customer Service Strategy
26. Treat customer service experience as a company-wide strategy
To deliver exceptional customer service experiences, the whole company needs to work together, not just the customer service team.
From marketing to product management to sales, everyone within a business should pool their knowledge together to improve customer service experiences across the entire organization.
27. Ask for customer feedback
Customers love to feel like their input is valued, so make sure to ask for their feedback after your interaction. Leave room for open-ended answers and always respond to negative comments by thanking the customer for their honesty.
When you receive customer feedback, don’t just say that you’ll share it with the “appropriate department.” Over half of customers think that their feedback is not passed on to anyone who can act on it.
Be more specific, i.e., “I will share your feedback about [the matter] with our [the appropriate department].”
28. Offer customer service training
Often, what separates great customer experiences from passable (or worse, terrible) ones is the customer service agent.
While some agents may be pros from day one, most will require training. 83% of high-performing agents receive the training they need to do their job well versus 52% of underperformers.
Training should be frequent and include information on any changes to products and/or services as well as customer feedback.
29. Use Customer Service Metrics
The only way to know how good your customer service is and where you can improve is to use help desk metrics.
Popular customer service metrics include:
- NPS. The Net Promoter Score measures customer loyalty. You can find this out by distributing a survey that asks customers if they would recommend your business to a friend or acquaintance. This metric is a great predictor of business growth and the likelihood of new customers.
- CSAT. The Customer Satisfaction Score lets you know how happy customers are with your product or service. The score is determined by asking customers to fill out a survey in which they rate their experience (for example, from 1 to 10).
- First Response Time. Also known as First Reply Time, this metric measures how long it takes customers to get the first response to their query.
- CRR. The Customer Retention Rate measures how many customers a brand has retained over a specific time period.
Better Customer Service Needs to Be a Priority
No matter how good your customer service is, there are always ways to improve. With customers going out of their way to do business with companies that excel at customer service, exceptional customer service experiences should be every brand’s priority going forward.