Customer Experience
What Does Great Customer Service Mean to You? Experts Weigh In

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What Does Great Customer Service Mean to You? Experts Weigh In

Apr 25, 2024
10 min read

Table of contents

Great customer service is a phrase that’s used in all businesses. 

But, what does “great customer service” mean to you? 

Let me share a recent example from two retail companies.

I recently purchased two items from two different companies. I returned both.

The first company issued a refund in 30 days.

The second company issued a refund in 10 days.

And while the first company didn’t inform me that my return had been received, accepted and processed, the second company did.

That, to me, is great customer service. 

I was kept in the loop at all times and my refund was processed quickly.

But that’s just my opinion. Perhaps your definition of great customer service is different?

That’s what we wanted to find out – so, we asked 8 customer service and business experts to share from their personal experiences what good customer service means to them. 

We’ve taken their advice and condensed it into 8 practical tips. By the end, you’ll be able to replicate some (if not all) of the inputs shared to deliver, once and for all – excellent customer service.

Table of Contents

8 Experts weigh in on what makes customer service great

Here are some specific examples of great customer service from experts across the globe:

1. Meet your customers where they’re at

“Exceptional customer service can take on multiple forms, but the core of exceptional customer service is knowing how to adapt quickly through flexible systems and policies, and how to meet customers where they are, not force them to come to you. This doesn’t mean you have to “give away the shop” but we should always be adapting and changing. The worst thing one can do is do nothing.” – Adam Bost, US Head of Customer Operations at Capital on Tap.

Striving to meet your customers’ needs at each interaction enriches their buying experience. Adapt how you communicate with your customers by finding out where they hang out. If your demographic is a younger age range, TikTok or Instagram would give you access to your customers since the majority of the apps’ users are Millennials or Gen Zs

It’s not surprising that poor customer service can have disastrous consequences. It leads to around half of customers switching to a competitor after just one bad experience. That number shoots up to 70% after multiple bad customer service experiences.

Meeting your customers wherever they are helps you better understand their likes and dislikes and proves to them that you care about their experience with your brand. Offer them great customer service experiences by meeting them head-on.  

2. Listen to your customers

“Great customer service is all about making the customer feel understood. Even if you can’t solve their problem for them, listening and sympathizing can make a big difference. When people feel understood, they are more likely to be satisfied with a sub-par solution. Otherwise, even the best solution will leave them feeling frustrated because they would feel undervalued by your organization.” – Kaitie Weaver, Head of Brand and Communications at Helcim

Your customers know what’s best, right? 

Well, most of the time! 

Listening to customer problems, needs and wishes are great ways to build confidence and trust. What’s more, 63% of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations. 

Customers tell you if a product doesn’t work or hasn’t arrived on time. When customers don’t feel valued during a service interaction, they’ll turn to your competitors for help.

Tracking customer satisfaction and happiness remains the main method of how businesses actively listen to their customers.

Listening to customers isn’t just a way to improve customer satisfaction, it can also lead to stronger relationships, increased revenue and offer inputs on how to develop your customer experience marketing strategy

Here are three additional ways to use listening as a growth tool for your business:

  • Upsell and cross-sell to customers. Customer service representatives develop a bond with customers that few departments can match, which presents a huge opportunity to upsell to new subscriptions. For example, let’s say a customer has a question relating to their current subscription that can only be solved if they subscribe to the next pricing tier of your product. Capitalize on those situations whenever you can!
  • Perform social listening. Use tools like Google Alerts and Mention to find out what your customers are saying about you on social media. Social listening is a great way to communicate with customers before they reach out to your customer service team. It’s also a great way to get inputs on product development and can give you insights into what your customers want from you – creating more opportunities for business growth.
  • Inform your marketing strategy. Understanding what your audience is saying about your brand will influence your marketing strategy. Stay curious–listen to make sure your time and efforts are concentrated on the most effective channels.  

As customer service professionals, effective listening is a skill that can take you places. It can help you solve customer problems more effectively and build a loyal customer base.

effective listening in customer service
The role of effective listening in servicing customers

3. Carry out research with your customers

“We ask all our customers to fill out a short internal feedback questionnaire. In doing so, we also ask where our customers still see the potential for improvement. Other companies do this too, but what sets us apart from many others is that we actually implement the feedback. As a small company, we are flexible and can quickly optimize internal processes. This has enabled us to achieve a customer satisfaction rate of 98% quickly. That is well above the industry average.” – Cristina Stephan, Customer Service Manager at Stephan Immobilien

How do you know if your company’s product or service is meeting the needs of your target audience? 

Or, if your assumptions about customers are right or wrong?  

Trick question! 

Instead of speculating, you should conduct research!

Market research offers tactical, competitive businesses a way to turn ideas into profit. Use those insights to create content that engages your customers — an important activity considering that 97% of consumers use online media while researching products or services in their local area.

stat about consumer purchase behaviour
Online research constitutes an important aspect of consumers’ buying behavior

Carry out research with new and existing customers by:

  • Identifying questions you want to answer. For example, who is your buyer persona? Or what social media channels do your existing customers use?
  • Using a variety of research methods, for example speaking with service agents, sending customer surveys, or using social media polls.
  • Using existing data and analytics, look for information on your most and least popular products. Who are your buyers? What have customers already said about your brand? 
  • Analyzing the results and developing a clear action plan.

Further, get an in-depth insight into customer expectations by meeting with the sales team, product team, and customer support team. The insights from these conversations will help you understand what’s working and where to improve.

4. Personalize the customer experience

“You should focus on making your customer care team efficient and empathetic so they can deal with customer queries without being disrespectful. In addition, to retain your customers you should frequently tailor your offers based on their profile. This shows them that your company values its customers and puts a lot of effort into personalizing their journey.” – Andrei Kurtuy, Co-Founder & CCO at Novorésumé

Providing a personalized customer experience can increase your online conversion rate by around 8%. Customers want to feel trust and confidence in the brand they’re buying from and respond best when you understand their needs. Yet, 59% of all consumers feel businesses have lost touch with the human feature of customer experience. 

“Dear Customer” isn’t the right start to crafting a personalized email. Use their first name–make an effort and build connections. Provide humanized customer service rather than solely relying on AI (artificial intelligence) methods. When customers feel connected with your brand, they’ll feel comfortable asking deeper questions about your products and services before making a purchase. There are higher chances of turning those prospects into sales. 

Stay ahead of the competition by personalizing the customer service you offer. 

5. Turn errors into learning opportunities

“Complaints are rare but when they do happen, being open and honest, and communicating, play a big role in maintaining that trust level and integrity within the business-client relationship. Acknowledge, accept responsibility (where the business is at fault),and act accordingly with a plan of resolution. All bonds are built on trust, without it, you have nothing”. –Naomi Lawton, Customer Experience Manager at Access2Funding

Almost half of all customer service employees struggle to manage difficult conversations with angry customers. But, those difficult conversations can also provide the perfect opportunity for offering outstanding customer service.

Customers need to have confidence that mistakes made can be remedied quickly and efficiently. Make sure your customer service team understands how to deal with queries or complaints needing a high level of support – they should be well-versed with your troubleshooting and escalation procedures. 

Use escalation management cases as learning opportunities. Choose a random sample with your customer service team – work out what went wrong, what went right, and what needs to be done better. It’ll make problem solving much faster and simpler for your agents.

Show customers that you’ve taken corrective action to remedy their complaints or problems. Customers aren’t interested to see if your support procedures are in place. Rather, they’re interested in how diligently you follow up with them to quickly and effectively resolve their complaints.

6. Provide high-quality customer service training

“I train employees to fix the customer service issues instantly, measure the employee contribution regularly, and manage employee expectations to improve customer service operations” – Ashley Amor, Customer Service Manager and co-founder of People Find Fast.

Unprofessional interactions, lengthy response times, and poor product knowledge all negatively impact the customer experience. Plus, unskilled and under confident customer service agents can also go a long way in damaging your reputation. 

That’s why training and equipping your staff with essential customer service skills is so important.

According to the 2022 Workplace Learning Report, opportunities to learn and grow are the top drivers of great work culture. And there are many ways to offer high-quality training to customer service teams. 

The top method for learning and training was peer relationships, with over half of people, in fact, (54%) reporting this as a way they learn

With good employee training, customer service teams can learn how to improve their communication skills, develop a positive attitude, manage stress better and be more efficient with what they do. Help them reach their full potential, which in turn, will drive your success. 

9 Customer Service Skills

7. Set up systems to review customer service processes

“There are a few ways to set up internal systems to review customer service processes. One way is to have regular check-ins with customer service employees, where you can see how they are handling day-to-day tasks and how they are interacting with customers.” – Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer at Checkr

Businesses lose between 20% and 30% in revenue every year due to inefficiencies. 

Good thing is that these losses can be prevented by adopting simple practices to continuously review your support processes.

To begin with, you can set up surveys for customers to fill out after their interactions with your customer service agents. Collecting this feedback is a crucial first step in understanding what areas of your product or service quality need improvement.

Importance of customer feedback
Importance of customer feedback

Furthermore, here are some other improvements you can introduce in your support processes:

  1. Regularly ask your customer service agents for feedback. After all, they are the folks talking to customers each day. Customer service teams will have great suggestions for improving customer satisfaction rates or how best to introduce a new product.
  2. Embed a cycle of continuous improvement. Develop a clear plan of how to improve the performance of customer service agents. For example, you can host workshops on how to be conversational in emails and chat.
  3. Review and iterate. Just because something is working at present, doesn’t mean it will continue to work in the future. Customer preferences are constantly changing. Keep up with demand, customers’ needs, and pain points by reviewing and changing what systems you have.

8. Make your customers feel special

“Great customer service is about making your customers feel appreciated and understood. Each interaction and correspondence gives you an opportunity to strengthen your relationship and inspire your customers to want to come back and do business with you again. Make them feel special, keep them smiling and they’ll be a customer for life” – Julija Ražanskienė, Customer Support Manager at SuperOffice.

Yes, responding to customers is important.

But the way you make a customer feel is even more important than the response itself.

You want customers to feel appreciated and to feel valued. Easier said than done, right?

Let’s use an example of a customer who wants to reschedule their vacation dates – but there’s no availability on the new dates they’ve suggested.

Here’s how you could respond:

  1. “Hi. Thank you. Unfortunately, there’s no availability. Can you suggest new dates?”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this response. It’s fine. But how do you think it makes the customer feel, compared to the response below?

  1. “Hi. I’m really sorry, but there’s nothing available on the new dates you have suggested. I’ve checked the day before and there is availability if you have the option to fly out one day early. If so, please let me know and I’ll book the new date immediately.

There’s a little bit more effort applied to the second email (a lot of empathy, too). It shows you’ve gone the extra mile to search for more dates and check the availability without the customer having to ask you to do so. That attention to detail goes a long way with the customer.

They may not tell you that they feel great, but know this –  they will feel it.

What does great customer service mean to your customers?

There’s no shortage of ways to improve the customer experience.

Take time to audit the way you currently work with customers – from communication methods, internal processes, quality of interactions and the channels you use.

In many cases, good customer service is a key differentiator. Forget competing on price or product quality and instead, focus on something that your competitors cannot compete with – excellent service.

Ready to get started?

That’s where Hiver comes in. Investing in a customer service solution like Hiver can help you reach your goal of delivering great customer service – right from the comfort of your Gmail inbox.

Create a free account today and provide your customers with a remarkable experience that they deserve.

Steven Macdonald is a digital marketer based in Tallinn, Estonia.

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