The 7 best customer service strategies

How customers prefer to communicate with your brand is continually evolving. For example, according to Forrester, customers expect to be able to reach you across multiple channels based on their timelines.

However, customer expectations go beyond simply wanting service when they’re ready for it. To make sure your interactions with them are convenient and helpful, you need a clear strategy. The following best practices can help your team offer an exceptional customer experience. 

Why Following Customer Service Best Practices Matters

A customer’s positive experience with your brand can encourage them to keep coming back for years. Plus, loyal customers are more likely to refer others to your business. 

Here are the benefits you can look forward to when your team uses a customer-centric support strategy:

Lower Customer Costs

Keeping your existing customer base is far more cost effective than finding new customers. However, to retain those customers, it’s important to focus on customer service standards that are known to keep customers happy.

More Customer Referrals

Happy customers are more likely to offer word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews on social media, which can help you gain new customers. Leveling up your customer service strategies can help you reduce customer complaints and increase referrals. Moreover, by providing a seamless experience and incorporating a referral program with a unique referral link, you can further boost customer engagement and bring in new business.

Better Service Offering

One effective way to know how to improve your customer service is to gather feedback about how customers perceive and interact with your brand and how they’d like to see your service improve.

Developing a repeatable process for customer data collection, such as emailing a satisfaction survey at the end of each phone call, can help you pinpoint existing customer issues and how to help your support agents offer even better service.

Create a Competitive Advantage

Exceptional customer service doesn‘t just help your brand reputation and bottom line. It can also propel you ahead of your competition. By instilling service practices that create an exceptional experience, you can set the customer service standard for your industry.

7 Recommended Customer Service Strategies

Support agent working applying the customer service strategies he knows

These seven best practices for customer care can help your team have better interactions with your customers.

1. Get the First Touchpoint Right

First impressions are everything. Prepare your team members to deliver exceptional customer service during a customer’s first touchpoint, no matter what channel or customer issue. 

According to Coveo Research, customers lose patience when they can’t reach an agent or get conflicting information from agents. This increases churn rates and reduces customer loyalty, especially when it happens early in a customer’s relationship with a brand. In fact, the report says, “76% of customers said they would abandon a brand after three negative service experiences, a 3% increase from last year’s report."

Best practices for improving the first touchpoint include:

  • Gather and assess customer data to see how well your team responds to customer questions or requests for support. Metrics like Customer Effort Score (CES) are helpful for analyzing those first touchpoints. Take a close look to see what went wrong, then you can build a strategy for how team members and technology can improve responses.
  • Consider enhancing your customer service software tools. For effective first touchpoints and streamlining customer inquiries, exploring various software recommendations can provide invaluable insights into tools that could enhance your team's efficiency and response times.
  • Do test runs with new technology and processes to ensure everything and everyone works seamlessly before using them with actual customers.
  • Make use of helpdesk software where you can track and review customer requests in one place, as a team, and more easily find opportunities for service enhancements.

2. Add More Customer Self-Service Options

While fantastic customer associates are key to offering quality service, good customer service also includes making it easier for customers to solve their own problems. In fact, many customers are happier if they can find the answer without contacting you at all. Here are some tips for providing more self-service options to serve these customers:

  • Create and offer an accessible knowledge base. By accessing frequently asked questions and articles or guides about how to solve common issues, customers can quickly find the answers they need. Offer clear, actionable instructions on how to resolve different problems or questions customers may have. Use a clear organizational system for the knowledge base so customers can easily find the information they need.
  • Continually update your knowledge base. Once you have a knowledge base, you need to make sure it stays accurate and current. Keep adding answers to new issues, tutorials, and tips, and make sure existing articles are kept up-to-date. You can also enhance resources by adding links, images, and videos that further clarify how to fix an issue. For example, a free online video maker can help you create engaging and informative video tutorials that can be integrated into your knowledge base, enriching the learning experience for your audience. If you're thinking about broadening your impact, use that same video maker to create video ads. It’s a fun way to catch more eyes and really show off what your platform can do.
  • Use a chatbot to help direct customers to answers for frequently asked questions. Chatbots can fill in when a live rep is not available or a customer would rather have this sort of interaction.

3. Expand Front-Line Decision-Making

Man learning the customer service strategies

Many customers are happy to use self-service options, but others still want a live agent to handle their unique issue with a personal touch. These customers are looking for friendly, knowledgeable, and proactive support staff who are able to assist them. 

It’s important to trust your customer service reps and, when appropriate, empower them to make decisions that affect the customer. Instead of continually checking with a manager to approve every change or refund while customers wait, associates can take care of issues more quickly on their own. That leads to a better customer experience, since customers will get their issues resolved more quickly and without needing to be passed between associates.

Here’s how to empower service team members to make more decisions:

  • Properly train and mentor customer service personnel so they have the knowledge and skills necessary to make more decisions about customer issues.
  • Ask your support team for input about the type of decisions they feel confident making and where they need more guidance. Their responses can help you create a more relevant, useful training program.
  • Be very clear about what types of decisions they can make, and provide the team with detailed policies and documentation that helps them make those decisions.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your team by letting them more easily talk with management through chat systems or other channels, so if they need further assistance or guidance on certain decisions, they can reach decision-makers quickly and easily.

4. Maximize Data Collection

Customer data can help you understand exactly what’s working and what’s not. More data means better decision-making. You can also use tools like residential proxy to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of collected data, which aids in better customer understanding. Sources of data include:

  • Customer reviews
  • Customer interviews and surveys
  • Ticket histories
  • Customer call transcripts
  • Customer service embedded analytics and reports

5. Commit to an Omnichannel Presence

Make sure customers feel like they can ask for help on their terms. Some customers will prefer to communicate through diverse support channels, like live chat on your website, while others will simply email you or send you a message via social media. When customers switch channels, your team needs a way to preserve conversations from channel-to-channel. An omnichannel approach will help you support your customers on their terms and deliver a consistent customer experience.

6. Deliver Consistent Service Experiences

Speaking of consistency, although that first customer service experience is all important, every other customer interaction with your brand is vital too.

Your customer service team should treat every interaction with customers as an opportunity to generate an exceptional impression. Here are a few tips to make that happen:

  • Build an internal playbook for your team that has guidelines, canned responses, and tips for each type of situation and interaction they might encounter. Keep adding to that playbook as your associates come across different situations.
  • Enact an ongoing training program to reinforce standards and protocols as well as to introduce new concepts or tools.
  • Implement a quality assurance program, so that associates consistently receive feedback on their customer interactions (and review each other’s work).
  • Develop a balanced, positive culture and work environment for your support staff. Create a positive environment that shows customer associates you care for their well-being. The more you care for your team, the better they can care for customers. (Plus, it’s just a healthy way to run a business.) 

7. Ask for (and Read) Feedback

Woman applying customer service strategies

To improve customer service, you need customer feedback. Although some customers may not offer constructive criticism, it’s still important to understand why they are frustrated, angry, or disappointed. It may not be easy to face every comment or piece of feedback, but it’s better to identify any issues quickly so you can address them in a helpful, proactive way.

Here’s how to create opportunities for customers to review you:

  • Add links to surveys on your website, at the completion of a product or service purchase, to your emails or text messages, and within your social media profiles. You can also ask for survey responses when someone abandons their cart or ends a call before a rep can connect with them. Making it as easy as possible for customers to provide their feedback will increase the number of responses you’ll get.
  • Use methodologies like Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scoring, Customer Effort Score (CES), and Net Promoter Score (NPS) to ask customers how they feel about your products, company, or specific customer support interactions. 
  • Share the customer feedback with your reps so they understand what customers expect. Use the feedback to find areas where you can improve, and then give targeted advice to help your team refine how they interact with customers.

Improve Your Customer Service

Support agent teaching the customer service strategies to apply

By following customer service strategies recommended above, you can reduce your customer churn (and the cost of gaining new customers), grow your customer base, and receive helpful customer insights. 

The best practices we covered include getting the first touchpoint right, creating an omnichannel presence, offering self-service options, and giving targeted, supportive feedback to your team. Develop strategies to increase data collection, expand decision-making capabilities for your customer service team, focus on consistency, and ask customers for reviews.