Customer service seems like something any company should be able to do, right? If that were true, the internet would be full of people lauding companies for the outstanding service they provide—rather than the customer support nightmares covering review sites from every continent. With the bar for switching providers dropping lower and lower with each passing technological advancement, effective customer service is absolutely imperative, no matter the size of your company or the number of customers you have.
Examples range as widely as the business landscape as a whole, from the everyday call center employee going out of their way to wish every caller a good day, to the extraordinary examples given below. No matter your industry, no matter the size of your customer support team, there are lessons to be learned here about how to take care of your customers to help ensure your company survives and thrives in the busy marketplace of 2019 and into 2020.
So, what makes for good customer support?
Talk about your nebulous concepts. How can one list attempt to show what good customer services looks like in YOUR sector? Well, honestly that would be difficult; however, there are some universals at play. People like what they like, no matter where on earth they are and no matter what they’re looking for support with. Here are a few ideas pulled from across the market to get you started:
Meet your customers where they are
The public is increasingly taking to social media to both ask for help, and to put companies on blast for failing to provide that help. That means that if your company isn’t paying attention to Facebook and Twitter, you’re likely missing out on opportunities to keep customers happy, and to turn critics into fans.
Be proactive rather than only reactive
Despite the terms being used interchangeably (including in this article!) there is a difference between customer support and customer service. The former is reactive while the latter is proactive. Support is when a customer reaches out to you for help with a problem they’re already having. Service is when you reach out to them with ways to help out, BEFORE a problem occurs.
Once again, this will look different in different scenarios, some examples include:
- FAQ pages where customers can look up answers to their questions on their own time.
- Knowledge bases which often take the FAQ to the next level with video tutorials for common issues, step-by-step guides, and so on.
- Reaching out to new customers, unbidden, to check up on them and ensure they’re progressing OK with their new product.
Stay in touch, on their terms
Ever gotten a call from customer support around dinner time to check on the status of an issue? Yeah, us too. The easy solution is to have your customer support team ask the customer what their preferred contact method is. No matter how the initial contact was made—Twitter, Chat, or phone call—offer to move the conversation into their preferred medium.
This shows that you’re on top of their ticket, and that you value their time as much as your own.
Remember your people
We hope it goes without saying, yet we’re going to say it—take care of your customer support team. After all, the other suggestions here are meaningless if you have a team of disheartened or disengaged workers manning the phone and ticket queue.
One of the examples of great service in action will drive this point home, but the bottom line is that in order to take care of your customers, you need to take care of your employees. That may be via benefits packages, or office perks, or even changing up the work schedule to allow for decompression and lowering of stress levels.
A small selection of statistics to back us up
We don’t want to bore you with numbers; however, there are some surprising figures related to customer service that we do think are relevant to this discussion. The following are taken from a variety of sources, but all combine to tell a similar tale—in today’s market it pays to take care of your customers.
- 78% of customers have given up on a transaction because of a negative customer experience
- 82% of customers have ceased business with a company because of a poor customer experience
- 95% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are likely to follow a brand through social media channels
- 78% of customers who complain to a brand on Twitter expect a response within an hour
- 75% of customers desire a consistent experience regardless of how they engage a company, e.g. social media, in person, by phone, etc
- 70% of customers report that technology makes it simple to take their business to a competitor if need be
- For consumers, customer experience will become more important than price and product by 2020
Real world examples of customer service done right
There are many, many, MANY examples to be found. These are just a sampling of some of our favorite companies doing customer service and support right.
What isn’t Jetblue doing right, really? From maintaining one of the best on-time rates in the industry, to consistently showing up the old-guard airlines with their stellar service and support, these relative newcomers are setting the bar high. For evidence, look no further than their Twitter timeline. The customer support staff who monitor the Jetblue account are so on the ball, they even manage to deliver a mocha to a time-crunched passenger.
There are sterling examples to be told here, but we’ll stick with one of the ways this startup disrupted the eyeglass industry from their first days on the scene—try-on samples delivered to your home. That’s right, no more dealing with harsh lighting and awkward mirror placement at a store, Warby Parker will deliver 5 pairs of glasses right to your door for you to try on, free. Talk about your proactive customer service!
The example of giving the support team time off-queue to work on other projects, that was Basecamp. Maker of Mac based project management software, their team was simply burning out. By giving each support team member 2 hours a day off the phones and out of the email queue, they were able to stretch their analytical or other skills by compiling reports, analyzing trends, or working on creative projects. This allowed the team to stay at capacity, since the people were no longer stressed out and mistake prone.
This newcomer to the skincare world proactively emails customers who recently purchased something to see if they have any questions. This is the proactive approach done right, as it not only shows they care, it can also head off any potentially unhappy customers who might be having an issue, but may not have found the time or energy to get in touch with the company.
What all of these examples have in common is the idea of putting the customer first—even when it means putting your people first, first. These companies realized that without a dedicated customer base, they wouldn’t be able to exist, let alone thrive in today’s busy marketplace. With a few seemingly simple ideas: be human, be responsive, and be transparent, these companies provide us with a definitive, working definition of great customer service.