Good customer service has always been important. But it feels like expectations have exploded in recent years.
Customers expect instant, cheap, consistent service, no matter what they buy or where it comes from.
In fact, a 2022 Zendesk report found 61 percent of customers will switch brands after only one bad experience. So much for customer loyalty.
Following the best practices in customer service can feel overwhelming if you look at the subject as a whole. That’s why we’ve broken down our customer service tips in this guide to help you navigate the changes your teams can begin implementing today.
- Why customer service is so important
- What’s included in customer service?
- Customer service best practices
- Final thoughts: The Scribe guide to customer service best practices
Why customer service is so important
Great customer service isn’t just about making people happy. It plays a vital role in reducing your costs and churn, improving customer retention and boosting sales.
In general, it costs a lot more to get new customers compared to keeping those you already have. You might want to run a quick crunch and figure out your customer acquisition cost (CAC) if you don’t already know it.
Your CAC can help you figure out how important retention is and prove to management why you need to prioritize customer service. If you’re only focusing on gaining new customers instead of making long-term happy customers, you could be spending a lot more for each sale.
The customer service experience is important for your business as a whole, too.
In a 2022 Salesforce report, 88 percent of consumers said the experience a company provides is just as important as the products or services it offers. If you have an amazing product but aren’t providing that same level of excellent customer service, you could be losing customers.
These satisfied, loyal customers also are likely to buy more.
Qualtrics found in its 2020 ROI of Customer Experience Report that 94 percent of customers who gave a company a “very good” rating are likely to purchase from that brand again in the future. This means each of these satisfied customers will lead to more sales.
And they won’t just buy more themselves. They’re also more likely to recommend your brand to others. The same Qualtrics survey found 94 percent of customers would recommend a brand with a “very good” customer experience (CX) rating.
Customer service is crucial for basically every stage of the sales funnel. But how do you determine if your company is following customer service best practices?
First, you’ll want to go over each stage of your business that involves customer service. We recommend documenting everything related to it in an easy place for your employees to access, like a training manual.
What’s included in customer service?
Customer service includes any and all support you offer current or prospective customers. This includes chats with your sales teams, visits to your website or help desk and any other interaction a customer has with your brand.
Customer service includes more than just interactions with your designated customer support team.
Increasingly, this also includes how easy you make it for customers to help themselves. For example, you might want to beef up your FAQ page every year with updated questions from your customer service department.
Some customer service channels are social media, in-person interactions, emails, phone calls, chatbots, website visits and (like we just mentioned) self-service.
The bottom line? Each time your customers interact with your brand is a chance to impact their perception of you.
Now, let's go over some best practices in customer service to help you go the extra mile with these customer interactions.
Customer service best practices
- Meet customer needs from the start.
- Take another look at your software.
- Build a knowledge base.
- Personalize the experience.
- Think omnichannel.
- Use the information you have.
- Help everyone understand how to help your customers.
We’ve gone over why customer service is so important and how it includes many channels and departments in your company. Now, it’s time to go over some of the customer service best practices that will help you when troubleshooting.
These practices hit on different parts of the customer journey. You want to make sure customers don’t feel abandoned as soon as they’ve made a purchase, after all.
Some of these tips will relate more to your team members, while others address the customer-centric tools you use as part of your CX.
Meet customer needs from the start
Good customer service starts with good customer onboarding.
Case in point: A 2022 Wyzowl study found that 63 percent of customers say good onboarding influences whether they decide to make a purchase. You want to make sure your customers know what your product or service can do — and what it can’t.
Provide user manuals and make sure they know how to contact customer service agents right away. Also, send a follow-up email or two to let them know you’re there for them and will actually listen to customer feedback.
Take another look at your software
When was the last time you updated your customer service software? You might want to check the market if it’s been a few years. There are a lot of newer options.
Automation and integrations have made these tools more seamless and easier for users to adapt to than ever before.
You’ll find customer support software that works with your preferred chat software and provides:
- Important metrics.
- Ready-to-go customer portals.
- Chatbots you can customize in minutes.=
Build a knowledge base
A knowledge base is part of that self-service we talked about. It can address customer questions or concerns at any stage in the customer journey.
You can empower your customers to help themselves with knowledge-centered support. These mini-libraries can help answer simple questions while easing your customer service team’s workload.
You want to keep these organized, with clear divisions that won’t confuse customers. Think sections for potential customers, how-to explainers and detailed breakdowns for more advanced users.
Personalize the experience
Remember when we talked about how personalization is increasingly important to customers?
People don’t want to feel like just another number to your company. This customer service best practice involves finding ways to make each interaction unique or special.
You’ll find software options that can address your customers by name, look up information relevant to their account and help them find the answers to their questions faster. But you can also personalize things in person.
Just think about how Starbucks asks for a customer’s name when they order. It isn’t just a way to identify the order. If that were the case, you could just as easily use a number. Adding someone’s name makes the experience feel friendlier.
It’s pretty rare for a brand to only interact with its customers on one platform.
These days, even fast food restaurants have customers reaching out on Facebook, receiving offers by email and ordering over an app. In short, you’ve got to think omnichannel.
Can you keep all of these channels connected? You want your app, website and store to have a similar, cohesive feel. The customer experience should be consistent across every channel.
You also want to share this knowledge, so customers aren’t repeating themselves constantly.
Use the information you have (CRMs/share knowledge)
Expanding on that sharing idea, you should automate it as much as possible. If you don’t already use it, we recommend looking into customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Many CRMs can work with your email, social media and customer service software. They can help customize responses and keep everything up to date. They also ensure you know how each customer has interacted with your brand.
Plus, CRMs help communicate customer issues without departments contacting each other directly.
Help everyone understand how to help your customers
Everyone should follow your customer service best practices, even if they don’t have a background in client support.
This is where Scribe comes in. Scribes help you not only show customers how to use self-service options but also teach employees how to follow customer service best practices.
One Capterra user writes, “(Scribe) has made both our yearly professional development for our new staff easier to follow and our infrequent — but technically intensive — processes easier to execute with fidelity.”
Scribe makes learning new software or teaching processes easy.
Maybe your team recently started using Salesforce to keep connected with customers and you need to get everyone up to speed faster. Employees on the frontline might be unfamiliar with the service and need detailed instructions.
You can use Scribe to show them everything from how to log in to how to integrate Salesforce with Gmail.
Scribe is a process documentation tool that writes customer-facing guides for you — complete with text and annotated screenshots.
In seconds, you can create visual documents that:
- Showcase new features.
- Train customers.
- Break down even your most complicated processes.
- Offer universal updates.
- Include top-notch security.
- Are easy to edit, share, store and embed in your favorite tools.
- Can be exported to PDF and other forums.
Final thoughts: The Scribe guide to customer service best practices
Good customer service is essential, but it’s not as scary or impossible to achieve as some would have you believe.
By focusing on why you want to follow customer service best practices in the first place, you can build a plan around what your own team needs to work on.
Maybe you need to involve more departments in your customer service or update your website to include more options for existing customers.
Set realistic goals for your teams and try to get everyone involved. You may already have some great software ready, but maybe you need help implementing it. Get your team excited about customer service and make learning to follow the best practices easy with Scribe.