How to improve customer service: 11 crucial tips

Your customer service team is on the front lines of ensuring customer satisfaction. When a problem arises, they are the first to jump into the trenches and resolve customer issues. 

But even the best customer service team can still benefit from new practices and tweaks to make their daily work even more effective. 

Looking to improve your customer service? We’ve got 11 tips to help make your customer service team as effective and efficient as possible.

Improve Customer Service at the Representative Level

Customer service begins and ends with each representative. These customer service tips focus on how individual associates can offer excellent support.

1. Engage in Active Listening

When you’re on a call with a customer, the person on the other end needs to know you’re taking their concerns to heart and you’ll do everything you can to help them. This starts with active listening. Customer interactions that revolve around active listening will tend to have fewer miscommunications and build more supportive relationships with customers.

With active listening, you’ll listen intently to what the customer is saying so you can learn as much about their issue as you can. Once the customer has finished describing the situation, show that you understand them by restating their concern and ask clarifying questions. 

At the end of the conversation, the active listening process continues with the customer service representative giving a basic summary of the conversation and how they helped resolve the issue. Ensure that your company incorporates the Customer effort score survey to gather feedback after the conversation ends, thus ensuring you've effectively met all their needs.

2. Show Empathy for Your Customers

Another way to enhance the customer experience is by showing empathy. This doesn’t mean you should pity the customer. Instead, it means imagining yourself in the customer’s situation, and letting them know you understand what they’re going through.

Showing empathy helps build trusting relationships with customers who feel you fully understand them. 

3. Focus on Solutions

Support agents looking how to improve customer service

As part of a customer service team, you’ll often work with people who are frustrated or angry. To deliver great customer service, it’s critical to focus on solving the issues at hand instead of telling your customer what they’ve done incorrectly or making excuses. Remain determined to solve the customer’s problems no matter how emotional they may get.

Once the customer sees that you’re focusing on getting the desired results, they may calm down a bit, making the call, email, or chat interaction a more pleasant experience for both of you. Additionally, using an SPF record checker can help ensure that your email communications are secure and trustworthy.

This tactic isn’t only valid for frustrated customers either. Even happy customers will appreciate your focus on solving their problem and giving them a pleasant and efficient customer service experience.

4. Own Your Mistakes

No one is perfect, customer service team members included. You’ll inevitably make some mistakes, such as misreading a price on your computer screen, sending a link to the wrong knowledge base article, or mispronouncing the customer’s name. The key to excellent customer service isn’t being perfect — it’s about understanding when you’ve made a mistake and addressing it.

The first step, of course, is owning up to your mistake. Admit that you made an error, and sincerely apologize. Then, immediately start correcting the issue so you can fully meet the customer’s needs.

Customers will generally be forgiving if you can see the error and fix it with minimal inconvenience.

Team Practices to Improve Customer Service

While individual execution is critical, the entire team must work like a well-oiled machine. These tips focus on how a customer service manager can help their entire team deliver exceptional customer service.

5. Continuous Training

When onboarding new customer service agents, they generally follow a thorough training protocol to ensure they understand how to deliver high-quality customer care. However, your education should go beyond this onboarding process. It’s critical to hold regular customer support team training sessions to help refresh experienced reps and teach everyone about new skills and technology. Continuous training is also important to make sure your associates remain experts in your products and policies.

Also, it’s smart to create an easily accessible, internal digital library of helpful customer service resources. If you do this, remind your reps that this library is available, and encourage them to review it regularly. 

Continual education and training can help ensure your associates have the latest information and customer service skills.

6. Use Automation and Self-Help Tools When Appropriate

Businesswomen teaching how to improve customer service

When it’s appropriate and relevant, you can direct customers to automation tools, like chatbots, and self-service systems, like FAQ pages or forums. This helps make sure customers can access support in real-time without waiting on hold or for a response by email or chat.

However, it’s a good idea to make sure anyone you direct to these automated or self-guided help sections also has a clear path to support from a human. 

Set up clear processes for referring customers to human or automated resources. For example, a customer looking for your mailing address would likely be a good candidate for an FAQ page. However, a customer trying to determine what department to send their defective item to may need the human touch. 

7. Gather and Measure Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is a great way to measure your customer service team’s success and understand how you can improve. Give your customers an easy way to offer comments or log complaints about the service they received, such as through a post-call survey or a link in a resolution email to a CSAT or CES form. 
Utilizing tools like Testimonial Hero can further enhance your feedback collection process by allowing you to capture and showcase authentic customer testimonials, providing valuable social proof to potential customers and reinforcing the credibility of your service.

You can personalize any form quickly and easily, which is essential because it means you can adapt a standard template so that it’s tailored to each customer or group of respondents, thus making them feel valuable and increasing the likelihood that they’ll fill it in.

Continually collect this feedback and use it as a barometer of success for each customer service rep. Set minimum feedback standards as a metric and set goals based upon this.

On top of being a great way to measure success, feedback is also key for training new and experienced customer support associates. Show new associates examples of exceptional customer service, and discuss what made the interaction exceptional. 

In the case of a bad experience, you can use this as a training tool to help hone your team’s customer service strategy. Together, explore how the rep could have delivered better customer service.

(Note: don’t use this feedback punitively. Examples of good and bad customer interactions are great to use as teaching aids, but it is a good idea to anonymize them so you aren’t using them to punish the associates involved.)

8. Follow up on Customer Feedback

When customers take the time to offer negative feedback, they often expect action. So, if you don’t make obvious changes, the customer could feel slighted. With closed-loop feedback, you’ll follow up with customers who had a bad experience and explain what initiatives the team took based on that feedback.

This follow-up increases customer satisfaction and can increase customer retention, as these customers now know you went the extra mile to address their main pain points.

Even if you don’t ultimately make any changes, you should still make sure you acknowledge and thank the customer for providing feedback with the help of your feedback form.

9. Implement a Quality Assurance Program

Develop an internal customer service quality assurance program so that your associates can help each other improve. Use a QA tool like Aprikot that enables peer reviews using rubrics through which associates can evaluate each other’s interactions with customers. 

This not only breeds a collaborative environment, but it allows your associates to learn from one another and feel more involved in the overall goal of delivering top-notch customer service. Rigorous and regular QA can lead to both more productive associates and better customer outcomes.

10. Boost Speed and Productivity With Tools

Even with a great customer service team, poor customer service tools can result in subpar customer experiences. Lagging computers, unintelligible automated telephone tools, glitchy headsets, hard-to-trigger canned responses, and more can make even the best customer service rep struggle.

Invest in the tools that will make your customer service team’s jobs easier and more efficient to gain more satisfied customers. These can include software solutions such as a more streamlined and intuitive customer relationship management (CRM) system, easy-to-use task-management software, time tracking software, or an internal chat interface.

You can find plenty of more ways to save time through tools that don’t directly involve project management solutions. For example, you can also have AI tools like photo editor, video editors, grammar checkers, email automation, image generator, and many more to assist your team. You can also use other AI tools for marketing and business to further increase productivity. Finally, consider hosting your IT equipment and servers in a sustainable data center. This strategic move not only streamlines your operations but also offers significant advantages in terms of security and uptime.

(Pro-tip: If you outsource any of your customer service operations to a BPO like PartnerHero, they can help you select the best software tools to meet your customer experience needs.)

11. Lead by Example

As the customer service manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure the entire team (including you) works as one cohesive unit. When helping a customer, hold yourself to the same standards as the rest of your team. By setting an example of the behavior and actions you want your team to emulate, the customer service team will see that you buy into and trust the process you have in place, making them feel they can also trust the system.

Improve Your Customer Service and Have Happier Clients

Businesswoman discussing how to improve customer service

With the right changes to how you lead your customer support team, you can better serve your customers and keep them happy. This ensures you build a trusting and loyal customer base that results in repeat business and referrals to friends and family. 

When you consider your general approach to customer support, make sure your team engages in active listening, shows empathy, focuses on solutions, and owns their mistakes. 

To offer the best possible support for your team members, consider offering regular training and educational resources. Finally, ask for, measure, and follow up on customer feedback, implement a peer review protocol, and use customer service tools wisely.

For more customer service tips and tricks and other helpful resources, be sure to check out the PartnerHero blog.