27 Tips to Be Awesome at Customer Service
We set out to ask marketers, business owners and customer service managers what their customer service tips are for keeping their consumers happy. They were nice enough to share with us their ideas.
If you like these tips, please use the share buttons to give our contributors some love.
- Refer-a-Friend Cash Rewards
- Love the Customers You’ve Got
- One Word: Donuts
- Be a Resource
- Build Trust: Show Your Interest in a Customer’s Success
- When you are talking to a prospect about your business, casually ask if they've read a book by a thought leader in your industry. If they say no, send them the book before you talk again! This shows a continued vested interest in their success and a dedication to educating them. For under $20, it's a steal.
- Ask your prospects how they are feeling about the sales representative that they are working with. Tell them that you always send out a feedback form following important meetings to better understand and serve your leads - and then send them a SHORT survey.
This alternative feedback method will show the lead that your organization as a whole truly cares about them and their needs, and creates a form of trust where previously there was none.
- Engage Loyal Customers
- Customer Service is Everyone’s Job
Give your customers a cash reward as incentive for sharing your brand with others - @R_VMaxwell
By Rachel Maxwell, CEO of Maxwell Biometrics, Inc.
Give your customers a cash reward as incentive for sharing your brand with others through a refer-a-friend program. Our clients love to show off their new products, and when their friends or family buy a new lock, they'll get a certain amount of money. It's an easy and friendly way to show our appreciation to clients who share our brand with others. The reward is always cash and never corporate dollars that can only be spent at the website.
By Peter Shankman, Founder of ShankMinds Business Masterminds
Be awesome to the customers you have, to get the customers you want - @PeterShankmanv
We're moving into an age where the concept of experience is worth more than marketing or advertising. The network will know what we're doing at all times, and recommend those things which we like to our connections, while ignoring those things we don't like. How will it know? Sentiment. The key to gaining new customers in the economy of the next fifty years will be this: Be awesome to the customers you have, to get the customers you want. Whenever you make a reservation at any Morton's Steakhouse anywhere in the world, they ask you if you're celebrating anything. When you say, “Oh, it's my wife's birthday,” they ask you her name. When you show up, “Happy birthday Sally” is printed on the menu at your table. What happens? Your wife Instagrams the hell out of that, and it goes everywhere, to every one of her friends. Her friends, by default, will want that same treatment.
By Jason Parks, Owner of The Media Captain
Take time to teach current and prospective clients something new each month - @TheMediaCaptain
Take time to teach current and prospective clients something new each month and word-of-mouth referrals will spread. Each month, our digital marketing agency hosts a Donuts and Digital Marketing. We buy coffee and doughnuts for 10-15 of our current and prospective clients. The sole purpose of this morning event at our office is to teach business owners and marketers about new trends in the digital landscape. Our clients are eager to learn about Google's constantly changing algorithm or the benefits of display retargeting. By taking the time to teach them this on a monthly, basis, word of mouth referrals tend to spread. Friends of clients start to hear about our agency, which results in more leads. The perspective clients get to meet our staff and see our passion for digital marketing. This helps close more sales. By making a $100 investment in the coffee and donuts each month, we are able to spread the word about our company. More importantly, we get to teach our clients, their friends and prospective clients cool trends in online marketing.
Find people asking industry related questions. If you can help them out, you’ve gained a new prospect - @DannyGroner
By Danny Groner, Manager of Blogger Partnerships & Outreach at Shutterstock
Take time to peruse Twitter on a daily or weekly basis to find people talking not only about your company, but about things related to the industry. Find someone asking for help or a specific question about a product or service. If you can help them out of a jam by offering advice or pointing them to information on your website that answers their question, you’ve gained a new prospect.
By Alexandria Griffin, Brand Evangelist at PeopleMetrics
Build trust with prospective clients by showing your interest in their their experience with your brand @XandGriffin
Here are two ways you can show prospective clients you care about their success and their experience with your brand.
Keep loyal customers coming back by personally expressing appreciation for their business - @YourGreenPal
By Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal
Keep loyal customers coming back by personally expressing appreciation for their business. We send a handwritten thank you card to each customer that completes three transactions. We also spray them with a scent that smells like freshly cut grass. This engages the strongest sense we have—the sense of smell.
By Mary Furrie, CEO at Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers (QAMS)
All of the employees should be able to help you with customer service all of the time, all departments. - Mary Furrie
Train employees to simply and politely engage with your customer. THEY can decide what that means. All of the employees help you all of the time, all departments.
Here are my 2 best examples and they both have to do with the checkout process:
- Unloaded by groceries - The checkout clerks make a habit of standing at the end of their station if they are open with no customers. I was checking out one day and the clerk at the NEXT register was looking to get around my cart so that she could stand at the end of her station. I second later she said Would you mind if I helped you unload your cart for you? I wasn't even her customer?
- Told to wait 2 minutes and 4 lines would be open - I ran into the Springfield, IL store quickly one night just to pick up a few things. I was in a hurry. When I got to the checkout lane, there was a crowd, not even a line, a crowd of people trying to check out at the 4 open lanes. We had all showed up at one time. About 5 seconds later I hear We are opening up 4 more lanes right this minute. You can go stand in lanes 6, 7, 8, and 9 and I promise you, someone will be there in one minute. And, sure enough, employees came running. All 4 additional lanes were opened immediately. I have never seen anything like it. From what I could tell, it looked like managers, not line people and they were there instantly.(that was not an accident, but something they planned if needed).
I could go on and on. I am in the business of measuring quality and can't say enough about the service at Hyvee.
Watch Twitter for unique opportunities to reach out to outspoken customers - @Andipontv
By Andi Kimbrough, Blogger at LiveLoveBlend.com
Watch Twitter for unique opportunities to reach out to outspoken customers. EX: I tweeted that my son wanted to have his birthday lunch at My Fit Foods @myfitfoods (it's not typically a favorite for kids). The company DM'ed me for my address and sent my son a free lunch certificate. Unique, friendly & something I've shared with friends and social media.
By Brad Smith, Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, Sage North America
Create a customer-centric culture by understanding your customers' business goals and priorities - @SageNAmerica
Understanding your customers' business goals and priorities can help you align your products and services appropriately with them. So many companies spend time and money to create policy and procedure, only to miss the mark on execution. These five steps can help you sustain a customer-centric culture:
- Secure executive support
- Build a customer experience team to lead the transformation
- Create a shared understanding of the intended experience
- Rally and align all employees to the cultural transformation
- Embed customer experience principles into the organization
Thorough training on customer focus is crucial. Find the little things that make sense for you, your team and your customers-whether it's a thank you call, a personal handwritten note, an effort to share relevant information about an upcoming government policy change that will impact your customers.
If you're doing something that irritates your customers, then stop doing it. And make proactive and regular communication a priority. If you know about a problem or defect with your product or service, inform your customers right away. Keep track of customers' preferred communication methods and know timeframes and dates to avoid.
Focus on the problem, not the person who created it - @NoirDame / @SoundStagesLive
When something goes wrong, don’t just admit that you made a mistake, but pay attention to how you say so. Don’t be euphemistic; completely own the mistake. Don’t beat around the bush with your customer; let them know as soon as possible, acknowledge their inconvenience (and possible hurt feelings), and then let them know how you’ll make it right. Then do it. It wasn’t your mistake? Someone else—like your shipping service or colleague—screwed up? Take ownership without blaming anyone. Focus on the problem, not the person who created it.
What the customer really wants to hear is that you know there’s a problem. you see that they’ve been inconvenienced, and you take it seriously enough to make it right. Most of the time, customers are angry because no one seems to value their time, or needs. Show that you do, openly acknowledge the mistake and their value to you, and you’ll not only attract loyalty, but a positive reputation as a straight shooter, and someone with integrity.
By Roberta Perry, President, Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc.
If you take care of the customers you already have, they will bring more of the customers that you want - @ScrubzBody
Making people feel special is #1. If you truly take care of the customers you already have, they will bring you more of the customers that you really want. “It takes money to make money,” but knowing where to spend that money is a challenge; eespecially for the small business owner.
As a natural skin care company trying to grow, we are always thinking of ways to spread the word. Because our products are touchy-feely, nothing has worked better than sending samples of other, complimentary products, when filling a customers order. If they spend a certain amount, it is always guaranteed. If they are a frequent buyer, even if the order is less, we will include one too. Sending them something new to try, with no obligation, is key.
We also send a hand-written note on every single order. Making people feel special is #1. I think if you truly take care of the customers you already have, they will bring you more of the customers that you really want.
Create an amazing customer experience by treating your customers exactly how you want to be treated - Kendra Barnes
By Kendra Barnes, Owner of Aisle Always Love
Create an amazing customer experience by treating your customers exactly how you want to be treated. Shopping online is such a fun way to get that retail therapy fix…but often times the long wait to get items in the mail can ruin the “high.” I’ve found that fast shipping is hands-down one of the best ways to please customers. If you feel like it’s your birthday every time you get some merchandise in the mail, your customers probably do too. I create an amazing customer experience by treating my customers exactly how I want to be treated. It's as simple as that!
By Aaron Lin, Founder of ZOOM Articles
Customer service is all about building personal relations - @ZoomArticles
Customer service is all about building personal relations. I find that befriending prospective customers during meetings works is an extremely effective strategy that's worked wonders for me. I'll have to admit, it's a little bit of a risk, since there are people who like to keep their business separate from their personal lives. But it's important to understand that everyone's almost always ready to make a new friend. The moment you sit down face-to-face with your prospective customer is absolutely crucial, especially from the perspective of building a personal connection. That's how we created an 80% rate of reorders—a promising figure that represents our customer service standards.
By Sandy Bodeau, Founder, Sira&Mara
Our customers see that business hours do not exist for us when a customer is not happy -@Sira_Mara
After spending 4 years working for a U.S. Senator with the best reputation in regards to his Constituent Services department, I learned that responsiveness made a huge difference in the way customers (or constituents) perceive your company. I took this experience with me when I founded Sira&Mara, and I now have a policy that all emails must be addressed within 24 hours and any email where a customer is not happy (versus an email where the customer needs an answer to a question) must be answered as early as they are detected. As such, if we see an unhappy customer’s email at 11p.m., we reply to it right there and then. Customers are blown away time and time again by our willingness to go the extra mile to take care of the situation. They see that their concern it is important to us, and that business hours do not exist for us when a customer is not happy.
By Dina Proctor, Dina Proctor International, Inc.
When I feel desperate to keep the money others pay me, I actually mentally block more from coming to me @DinaProctor
My very best tip for customer service is to freely issue refunds when they are requested or to give discounts or refunds when there has been a technical glitch or other error/delay in the customer receiving what they ordered. Of course these are few and far between, but it’s important to handle them right. I learned this from my (very successful) business coach early on—when I feel desperate to keep the money others pay me, I actually mentally block more from coming to me. I’m not losing anything by issuing a refund or “sorry this happened” discount—in so doing I create a positive experience for the customer and allow myself to feel abundance rather than scarcity regarding money.
I’ve actually attracted new customers because of people who have had a good experience with my policy—it’s absolutely the best way to handle dissatisfied customers in my experience.
Be straightforward about your product or service’s shortcomings - @KHeffner
By Kelly Wilkerson, Co-Founder at Decipher Media
Be straightforward about your product or service's shortcomings. In our area (software), there is a tendency to not openly acknowledge bugs/issues and to push back on the customer by categorizing the problem as user error. By admitting fault, AND fixing problems or offering solutions, your customers feel more comfortable contributing ideas and reporting issues. Customers who are contributing have put skin in the game and are much more likely to recommend it.
By Aaron Forman, Manager of Communications at Intercom
Enable support through in-app messaging rather than a ticketed support portal to make communication faster- @Intercom
Enable support through in-app messaging rather than a ticketed support portal to make communication with the customer faster and more contextually relevant.
Since the customer can ask a question directly from inside our application and then gets a notification when the question is answered it speeds up the whole communication process. If the customer is no longer in our application, then they receive an email like with a regular support ticket, but it appears more personal. If they are still in the application they are alerted that they have a new message and it’s a super fast process. It’s also much faster for our team. The team member’s inbox is extremely fast to scan, close and reply to individual conversations. There are very few clicks to navigate or process which leads to higher productivity for everyone on the team.
By Rich Kahn, Founder & CEO at eZanga
Be face-to-face with your clients once in a while and treat every client like a big client. @RichKahn
- Be face-to-face with your clients once in a while. It's always good to get your hands dirty from time to time, so get in there and talk to your customers. Having contact with them will help you better assess their needs, and provide a better product.
- Treat every client like a big client. You aren't always going to bring in a multi-million dollar account, that's just a fact. That's why so it's important to give all clients the same consideration that you would to those big accounts. Eventually those small accounts will grow into your next big thing.
By Craig Wolfe, President of CelebriDucks
Making immediate contact with an unhappy customer can turn around nearly any situation. @CelebriDucks
The best thing to diffuse almost any tough situation with a customer is to make immediate contact—the sooner the better. Do not let it fester. Immediate response says a lot to people. You can turn around almost any situation and have people change their feelings about you if you also:
- Ensure your customer feels that they are sincerely being heard and taken into account. Responding immediately says something about that.
- They also want to know that you feel and can sympathize with their issue and you are honestly sorry for any part you or your company had in creating this stress in their life.
- And finally, they need to feel how you are 100% committed to making the necessary changes to heal the situation and help in any way possible. That means a lot to them.
Do these four things and 99% of the time you can turn around anything and even make them fans for life!
By Colleen Murphy, Carvana
Strive to offer the best customer experience for every customer @Carvana
Strive to offer the best customer experience for every customer by going above and beyond the customer’s expectations. Car dealers are not known for their customer service, in fact car buying is one of the most frustrating retail experiences. When founder and president, Ernie Garcia, created Carvana, his mission was to change that. The company strives to offer the best customer experience for every customer by going above and beyond their expectations.
Purchasing a car entirely online is a big decision and to thank its customers for trusting them, Carvana leaves surprises behind in the vehicles after delivery. A few examples include, dog beds for customers with pets, wine and pizza for dinnertime delivery, personalized trophy for the fastest sale made on the site (11 minutes), gas cards, rolls of quarters for tolls, and more.
By Marty Babayov, The Suit Depot
Customers don't want to be told they did something wrong, so even if they did, don't point it out. @TheSuitDepot
Customers don't want to be told they did something wrong, so even if they did, don't point it out. The customer is ALWAYS right, even when they're wrong. While the vast majority of our customers are extremely pleasant to work with, every once in a while we'll receive a nasty email or call from a customer angry at us that a suit didn't fit right. I always tell our customer service reps, don't try and point out to the customer what they did wrong or why it isn't our fault. In the end, we will still get the return so you might as well sympathize with the customer, try and understand their concern to its fullest (maybe you missed something in your initial assessment) and empathize with them. Many distraught customers have been handed off to me and in almost every case I am able to ensure they leave happy with the customer service. Customers don't want to be told they did something wrong, so even if they did, don't point it out. Hear them out, repeat what they told you to show that you understand their concern, and explain how you will ensure it doesn't happen again.
By Jack Slingland, Director of Client Relations at TickPick
If you’re in a tricky customer service situation, the #1 thing you can do is to sympathize with a customer @iTickPick
If you’re in a tricky customer service situation, the #1 most powerful thing you can do to keep that customer happy is to sympathize with them, even agree with them, and then ask them how they would like the situation resolved. It may be counterintuitive to agree with the customer who is currently berating your company’s services, but it works wonders for two reasons:
- It’s not what they’re expecting. How often have you been on the phone with an unsympathetic customer representative?
- It’s very difficult for a customer to be angry at someone who is agreeing with them, as they’ll experience cognitive dissonance. If you’re worried about their response when you ask how they would like the situation resolved, don’t be.
Tips to help with this tactic:
- It is much better to do this over the phone than over email.
- Make the experience as personalized as you can.
- If things are really going poorly, give them time before you try to dive into a solution.
Include a sample of your products with each order. @BioSunCare
By Will von Bernuth, Co-Founder of Block Island Organics
Include a sample of your products with each order. Customers appreciate this as it gives them a chance to try out your products. When an order comes in, we like to include a sample packet of our products. We find customers really appreciate this as it gives them a chance to try out our products. Our samples are also pocket sized so they make for great on-the-go purposes. We've heard from a number of our female customers that they put the sample packets in their purses. One challenge for us is as a small company we don't always have sample packets available but when we do it's a nice little perk.
By Alan Blashaw, Lead Marketing Consultant at Grizzly Group Solutions
Clients are more likely to recommend you if they perceive as more than merely a business associate. @GrizzlyGroupLLC
It’s important to let clients know that you are thinking of them outside of standard business. If I see an article, book, or video that a client might find useful, I try to send it to them. Often clients are thrilled by the gesture. They’ve grown so accustomed to being nickel n’ dimed for everything that an act of legitimate sincerity is often surprising. This immediately differentiates you from the pack, and brings you closer to the “friend zone.” Clients begin to feel that you actually care about their wellbeing, not just their contributions to your bank account. Ultimately, they are more likely to recommend you and your services if they perceive as more than merely a business associate.
Once customers do something to engage with your brand, offer to mail them a company t-shirt as a thank you @JayClouse
By Jay Clouse, Tixers
One of my personal favorite customer service moves involves surprise and delight. Once a customer does something to engage with your brand or product—it does not need to be much, whether it's a survey, purchase, etc.—offer to mail that user a company t-shirt as a thank you. When the customer provides an address for the t-shirt, send them a shirt, sticker, and hand-written note thanking them for their business. It's a small thing, but it really creates strong brand evangelists—as well as provides an enduring marketing piece, using a quality t-shirt to act as a billboard for your brand.
Reviews are my best sales tool. Shawn Underwood
By Shawn Underwood, Owner of CMCVintagegoods
I have found that excellent customer service keeps customers returning. My hometown is Seattle, most people are aware of the Nordstrom motto, 'the customer is always right.' I adhere to the same motto which has served me well. I include customer reviews in each and every item I list, and I find through Google Analytics that people actually look at reviews. I think the reviews are my best sales tool.
By Anna Copley, Pickleball Central
We look for opportunities to go above and beyond for our customers. It's personal for us. @PickleballCentr
Follow the Golden Rule—treat customers like you'd like to be treated. Give a discount to anyone who asks. It delights people to get a little extra benefit. It's counter intuitive that giving a discount helps grow your business, but it works!
We sell service. That's what distinguishes us from the competition. We look for opportunities to go above and beyond for our customers. It's personal for us. Here are some of things we do:
- We hand pick and weigh paddles for customers.
- Every order goes out with a handwritten personal note.
- We often drive to the post office or UPS office with last minute rush packages.
- We seek feedback and if it's negative, we try to fix it. It blows people away to be asked for feedback, to be heard and to be cared for.