Great customer service experiences drive growth as long as you know and follow these guiding principles:
- Understand what customer service experience is and its inherent value
- Revolve company-wide best practices around serving the customer
- Seek out unique touchpoints to build positive customer experiences
Customer service experience goes way beyond the actual one-to-one interaction between agent and customer. Today, it moves past call centers and email correspondence, nudging its way into social networks, live messaging, and self-help databases.
At this point, there’s not much that isn’t covered by the term. Anything that serves the customer is a customer service experience. Understanding this concept is key.
When running customer support at a startup, I quickly learned that everything was our responsibility. That’s a good thing. You want your customer service team to feel this way. Come with me, I’ll explain further…
What is customer service experience?
Customer service experience is the sentiment associated with a company’s ability to provide positive experiences to their customers. Services range from one-on-one interactions where a support agent resolves a customer issue, to exchanges with the brand on a more public scale.
The definition of customer service experience must go above the archaic understanding of siloed support. What is considered customer service experience today is much more comprehensive than it was years ago. We now know that 55% of customers sight a reputation for great customer service as a reason why they chose one company over another.
This reputation doesn’t live solely within the inbox or on a phone call. People experience customer service more publicly than ever. A good business strategy capitalizes on this free publicity and ensures the sentiment is positive.
Build a great customer service experience mentality at your company
Whether you’re a founder, CEO, or customer service manager, building a great customer service experience comes down to people. Hire the right team and prioritizing customer service comes easy.
Let’s break down those “people” into three distinct groups:
Customer service team
Getting the best people on your customer service team requires a nuanced hiring process. But the “best” people aren’t necessarily the obvious choice.
Customer service skills come from far and wide. Don’t pigeon-hold yourself by only hiring those with specific customer service experience on their resumes.
When I applied to my first job as a customer service rep, my resume didn’t include a single iota of customer service experience. It did, however, boast a prolific amount of writing experience, a ton of inter-departmental communication examples, and a boatload of problem-solving abilities.
Hire based on skills, not previous titles.
To really stay ahead of the game, bring in some fresh blood to think outside the inbox. A team of non-traditional agents can bring a unique perspective to your overall business strategy.
A customer-centric company expands the service mentality beyond the support team. Each department abides by the customer mindset. The simplest way to encourage company-wide customer care is to respect your customer service team.
Invite customer service agents to all relevant meetings, include customer service metrics in high-level presentations, and encourage other departments to go the extra mile for customers whenever possible.
This starts at the top. When a founder cares about the customer service experience, the entire company follows. If you’re in a leadership position, take the initiative to create systematic check-ins to empower employees to prioritize customer feedback.
Industry at large
Depending on the content, customer service in the public sphere is either a blessing or a curse. For good customer service experiences, it’s the kind of free publicity a business would kill for. Bad experiences, though, amplify the space just as loudly (if not louder).
Taking a birds-eye view, customer service provides another value proposition in competitive industries. The stats back it up: By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
If you’ve got happy customers, shout it from the rooftops! Tell everyone on social media, release it to the press, and add it to your website. Promise good customer service for all potential customers to see. It may be the differentiating factor in getting them to go with your company over another.
Apply the best customer service experience examples to your business
The best customer service experience examples show how seemingly small things can make a big impact. You don’t need to overhaul your entire company structure. Nor do you need to allocate a huge budget to create loyal customers.
Let’s take a look at three different examples to see how you can exceed customer expectations in realistic ways:
A New York-based SaaS company suddenly gains traction in the Asia markets. As more and more customers pour in, so do the customer service requests.
Every day, the customer team scrambles to make sense of the packed morning inbox. While their response time looks okay on paper (still under 12 hours), their customers complain about getting responses in the middle of the night and not being able to talk to someone during business hours.
Hiring and training a remote customer service employee in Asia won’t be easy, but the CS manager knows it’s what their customers need.
Once the new team member gets ramped up, he’s able to cover Asia business hours and respond in minutes rather than hours. Meanwhile, the US-based customer team breathes a sigh of relief seeing the inbox isn’t flooded every morning.
The bottom-line speaks for itself. Revenue was already rising in Asia, but after adding a dedicated agent, they see an even more intense spike. CSAT is way up. And the company is primed to bring on more agents to help them cover international territories as they grow.
The support team at an e-commerce store is having trouble hitting their CSAT goals. The company’s marketing is known for its friendly vibe, so the customer service team decides to mirror this.
Each team member adds a headshot to their Inbox profile and a few things about themselves to their email signature.
Immediately, they notice that more customers address the agents by name in their responses. Others mention loving the personal notes in the email signature. The agents even admit to feeling more ownership over their emails. The whole customer service experience seems more human.
When they check CSAT the following month, the results confirm what the team already assumed. Not only is customer satisfaction up, but the amount of customers who took the time to respond to the survey tripled!
A tech startup hypes up their customer service experience to stand out from the crowd. They offer phone, email, and live chat around the clock. But customer inquiries on all of these channels typically ask the same question: Where can I find this online?
The team builds a knowledge base with answers to common questions, including photo and video guides. The base draws more than ten times the amount of customers than a phone, email, or live chat.
Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” holds true in every form of communication, customer service is no exception. By listening to their customers, this startup was able to reduce inefficiencies and ramp up self-service.
They eliminate phone and live chat support, and use email to mainly point customers to the knowledge base. Customer happiness increases, time spent actually talking to customers decreases, and the founder doesn’t have to worry about answering the phone line during his 12am-8am shift anymore (startup life, am I right?).
Propel business growth with positive customer service experiences
Business success relies on more than just a good product or service. Focus on how your customers feel. They are the ones keeping you in business, after all.
Three out of four (74%) consumers say they have spent more with a company because of a history of positive customer service experiences. The proof is in the stats. Positive customer service stories correlate to positive revenue.
Let a customer service mentality permeate throughout your entire organization. Hire the right people, both within the support team and the company as a whole. Build an internal structure that prioritizes customers. Then, blast out your efforts to the industry at large. Promise excellent customer service in the public eye and your entire team will feel accountable.
Don’t worry about spending the most money or having the biggest support team. Start with small, practical acts of kindness towards your customers. Put in the effort to show customers how important they are to you, and let word of mouth do the rest.