Customer service is at the heart of every growing company. As there are multiple factors that contribute to the growth of a business, customer service is one that may have the biggest impact.

Why? Because great customer support can bring a lot of good benefits for a company.

  • Customers who receive a positive experience are more likely to provide repeat orders.
  • Well informed customers are more self-confident and assured about the product.
  • Happy customers keep coming back for more.
  • Customers keep talking about the one experience they had.
  • Provides a competitive advantage.

Did you know that half of Americans have canceled a purchase or transaction due to bad customer service?

Moreover,

After a bad experience, 51% of Americans would never use the company again.

Still looking at customer service as a hidden cost? What if we take a quick look at the R.O.I of great customer service.

7 out of 10 U.S consumers say they've spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service

American Express Customer Service Barometer

It is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expansive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

Harvard Business Review

If you're not convinced that making customers happy is so valuable, consider the research done by Frederick Reichheld (The inventor of the Net Promoter Score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profit by 25% to 95%.

Now that you're convinced that great customer service is the key to sustainable growth,

As you can see, there are multiple benefits of providing great customer support. Through this guide, we will guide you over the best tips that you'll have to take into account in your company to provide a delightful customer service experience.

What is customer service?

Customer service is the art of providing any kind of interaction aimed at improving relations between the customer, the company and its products.

For example, a restaurant provides customer service when you're seated, order your food and pay.

Customer service teams need to be very diverse in terms of skills as they focus on giving users the best experience ever in order to maximize the value of a customer's investment in that company.

To better express what customer service is, let's compare it with customer support and customer experience.

What is customer support vs customer service?

The main difference between customer support and customer service is that customer support is a part of the customer service.

As software is eating the world, remote installation and operation software is much easier for customers. The traditional tech support team is no longer needed.

Customer support agents are a team of experts regarding your product. It aims at helping customers to enjoy product/service to the fullest while maintaining patience and people skills to deal with a frustrated customer.

What is customer experience vs customer service?

The main difference between customer experience and customer service is that customer service is part of the customer experience. Customer experience refers to the whole customer lifecycle.

Indeed, customer service is limited to specific touchpoint as when he is seeking advice or help.

Analyzing the customer experience needs a global view from non-customer to a highly satisfied customer.

These are both important pieces to an organization's success. As customer relationship gets more and more blurred, companies should consider the whole picture when thinking about their product or their offering.

Why customer service is important?

As we've seen in the introduction, there are many uplifts to a great customers service strategy.

Although it may involve extra resources, time and money, it will enable you to stand out and maintain a positive reputation.

We talked earlier about NPS (Net Promoter Score), remember? Well here is an advice, stop using NPS as a key factor of success.

Instead of asking your customers some version of "On a scale from 0 to 10 how likely are you to recommend my product", ask them nothing. Observe their behavior and ask yourself:

"What would a satisfied customer do in my product?"

As you can see, Net Promoter Score is one of the last choices regarding how companies measure customer happiness.

Customer service is critical because it's key to retaining customers you close and extract value from.

By proving top level customer service, companies can reduce customers acquisition and work alongside loyal customer base that will have a high referral rate, serve as case studies or testimonials.

Investing in customer service helps to activate your business’ growth because loyal customers who evangelize your brand will help you acquire new customers, for free, by spreading the word to new customers of your business’. Even more effectively than your own marketing and salespeople.

How to make customer service better?

Customer service has to be nailed at two levels: strategically and executively.

Improving customer service on a strategic level

Your staff may have the skills and know-how to interact with your customers. But what organizational strategies can you employ to please customers?

Practice proactive customer service by making your customers happy before they come to you with problems.

  • Get to know your customers. They want to feel like they have access to real people, not robots. Offer more than just automated email responses, and do not let your phone prompts or your live chat without any agents.  Show your customers that you are real people working along their companies to help them to reach their goals.
  • Be available and human. Being human & available touch is making sure your customers can reach you. For example, if your business is online, organize physical events with local customers, organize Meetups or offer video calls (such as appear.in) for those far away. Hire remote customer service reps to handle different timezone.
  • Nurture to your customers. Make sure you are fully meeting your customers’ needs. Consider assigning reps to specific customers so they can build a relationship. Offer VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated. Let them access to that VIP Facebook group in which you're getting precious feedback and nurturing through beta release and production evolution.
  • Create communities. Your customers will feel even more valued if you treat them as important members of a community. You can bring various customers together in numerous ways, including webinars, interactive websites, social media, events. And don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much–if not more–from them.

All these strategies have to be aligned with your company's spirit and culture, each advice will not fit with every company. Be sure to adapt this advice with your own customers too as they may wait for something very special.

Following the images beneath, this is How companies improve and grow their customer support.

As we've seen earlier, in an era where software is eating the world, teams have to be well armed to answer customers expectations.

Improving customer service on an executive level

If your staff has the necessary skills, that’s a good beginning. But they still need to link with your customers. Here are some tips to make sure customer service is both efficient and well perceived:

Ask reps to try to identify shared interests with the people they help. Having this common interest of understanding makes conflict easier to overcome by humanizing the relationship, and it links customers to your rep (and even your company).

Listen to your customers so they feel heard. Clarify and rephrase what the customers say to show you understand them. Empathize with and systematize their feelings by saying things like, “I know what you feel” or “I'll try my best to help you”.

Admit your mistakes, even if you discover them after your customers do. This builds trust and restores confidence. It also allows you to control the situation, re-focus the customer’s attention and resolve the issue.

Follow-up when a problem is fixed. Make sure the issue stays solved and that your customers were satisfied with the service. Sending an email, or even a feedback survey is an excellent way to let the customer know you’re still on their side.

Bonus Tips: What skills should have your customer service team

What skills should you be looking for in a customer service rep? Here are a few tips for you to build an incredible customer service team.

Empathy, patience, and consistency. Some customers will be angry. Others will ask tons of questions. And others will just want to have a chat. You must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time.

Adaptability. Every customer is different, and some may even seem to change from a week to another. You should be able to handle different mood, feel the customer’s behavior and adapt accordingly. This also includes a willingness to be a lifelong learner.

Clear communication. Ensure you said to customers exactly what you mean. You don’t want your customer to think he’s getting 50% off when he’s actually getting 50% more product. Use authentically positive language, stay cheerful no matter what and never end a conversation without confirming the customer is happy.

Work ethic. Customers appreciate a rep who will see their problem through to its resolution. At the same time, you must have good time management skills and not spend too much time handling one customer while others are waiting. Stay focused on your goals to achieve the right balance.

Knowledge. Ultimately your customers rely on you for their knowledge of your product. Stay informed enough to respond to most inquiries and know where to turn if the questions become too detailed or technical for you to answer. But don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” either. Customers will appreciate the honesty and your efforts to find the right answer.

Thick skin. The customer’s always right. The ability to swallow one’s pride and accept blame or negative feedback is crucial. Whether your team works directly with customers or looking for feedback on social media, they’ve got to keep the customer’s happiness in mind.

The best customer support tools & software for SMB's

Considering the efficiency gains that can come from using customer support technology, it's interesting to see that there are many companies that still not use modern tools that can enhance customer support productivity.

Let's have a review of the different tools and software you should set in your company to let your company rocks customer service.

Helpdesk software

Help desk software "refers to a computer program that enables customer-care operators to keep track of user requests and deal with other customer-care-related issues. It is what makes customer-care service efficient and enterprising."

47% of customer service professionals say their team uses a help desk to help customers.

If you ever want to compare help desk software, g2 has made an amazing job. You can now check them out here.

One of the major features of help desk is tickets. As mentioned in this report,

90% of professionals who use tickets agree it helped them manage questions and stay organized.

But only a small 28% use ticket to handle customer request 🙈

At Crisp, we believe tickets is an old way of treating your customers. Assigning a number to your customers' requests doesn't feel really human, right?

That's why we've built conversation threads that let you have chronological start and end.

A thread is a flow of messages in a conversation, that relate to the same topic. For instance, if you are a hosting provider and your customer has a temporary problem with their server, you may open a new conversation thread in Crisp to provide support on that specific problem. You'll give the thread a self-explanatory name, such as "Customer server offline (Ticket #1929383)".

When you're done providing support to your customer on that specific topic, you can simply close the thread. Your conversation view history will show a beautiful history of when did the thread start, then messages for that thread, and then when did that thread end.

Knowledge management software

Knowledge management "is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organization. It refers to a multidisciplinary approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge."

44% of customer service professionals say they have a knowledge base / FAQ on their website.

If you ever want to know how knowledge management system can help you to scale, we've written an article about how knowledge base can reduce customers' requests.

Shared inbox software

A shared inbox is an inbox that allows multiple people to send and receive email and messages from multiple channels to the same dashboard. This is great for a company that might want to share the load of responding to customer inquiries, for example.

40% of customer service professionals say their team uses a shared inbox  for customer support.

If you ever want to understand why shared inbox is great, here is an article about shared inbox tips.

Live chat software

Live chat software is increasingly popular among customers as a mean for asking questions due to its convenience and efficiency. It's a simple window on your website which allows website visitor or software user to get in touch with your support.

93% of companies that using a live chat found it to be successful for helping customers.

Still, we see 76% of companies that were not using this tool during the survey.

So we've seen the major tools that will help your customer support team to handle customer service the best way. Do you still not have one of this software? It's time to think about it!

Customer support tips and best practices

As customer service is becoming a competitive advantage, it's time for your company to take those best tips to scale your customers' relationship to the next level.

Use a typing indicator

The customer knows you're there and responding in real-time. He will be less impatient and able to know that you're actively engaged.

Embrace emojis

✌😺👍🏼😍🔥⭐️📚⚡️🤖✅

Use canned responses

Canned responses are a great way to semi-automate customer answer thanks to pre-set sentences that will help you to deal with accuracy and speed.

Use automated routings

Customers want immediate expertise. Based on users' data, route your customers to the right reps.

Create chatbots scenarios

Chatbots are a great way to interact first interaction with your support. More than that, it can help you to generate leads H24.

Enable file transfer

The ability to receive documents from your customers in a simple way prevents you from channel disruption.

Send post customer service survey

Be sure to evaluate customer satisfaction after the interaction is over with your customer support.

Share private notes

To enhance collaboration between teams and ensure the best service, it's great to share information regarding conversation to better assess customers request.

Customize your chatbox

Your chatbox should be seen immediately by your customers. Make it look like it's part of your company. Use chat welcome message for example.

Send conversation transcript

With conversation transcript, customers can have a clear record of information.

Add a chat button to marketing emails

By broadcasting the fact that you offer live chat, customer can start a chat directly from your emails or any other marketing email that is sent from your software.

Companies that invest in customer service in order to improve customer experience will definitely create a delightful experience for their customers. Happy customers become evangelists of your brand. Word-of-mouth is exploding and attracts a lot of new customers, creating flawless experience for your existing customers has become the new way of doing marketing.