Customer Service Standards: 16 Tips For You To Raise the Bar

How well you treat your customers (and clients) is one of the most important yet most intangible aspects of running a business.

According to an independent 2020 survey entitled Achieving Customer Amazement, 96% of customers will leave a business for bad customer service!

Survey: Desire To Switch

And this makes perfect sense.

You don’t want to spend money someplace that doesn’t appreciate you.

So, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and step up your customer service standards!

Go Beyond the Basics

There are six basic elements of customer service:

  • Availability
  • Courtesy
  • Consistency
  • Accuracy
  • Responsiveness
  • Efficiency

But in today’s business climate you need to go beyond the basics. Strive to make customer service a unified customer experience

Here are 16 tips on how to raise the bar on your company’s customer service. 

Table of contents:

    1. Never interrupt a customer
    2. Give VIP customers the VIP treatment
    3. Make buying easy
    4. Lead with social media jabs, follow through with a printed power punch
    5. “Tell me about your day.”
    6. Get proactive … and personal
    7. Get ahead of customer complaints
    8. Don’t fear AI
    9. Answer and explain … don’t sell.
    10. Let customers do it themselves
    11. Elevate your phone game
    12. Step-up your smartphone marketing strategy
    13. Do follow-up right
    14. “If you’re happy with your service, please leave us a positive review!”
    15. “Please like and repost!”
    16. “We have another product you may be interested in …”

1. Never interrupt a customer

Even if you know the answer to their question before they finish asking it, let them finish asking it anyway

People want to be heard. 

Interrupting someone who is speaking is not only rude, it’s inherently dismissive of the speaker’s comments. 

The last thing you want is for your customers to feel like their comments and opinions don’t matter.

A simple protocol like never interrupting a customer goes a long way toward building trust in your brand.

According to Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, 70% of customers are brand loyal and 57% of them cite customer service as the main factor influencing customer loyalty.

2. Give VIP customers the VIP treatment

Loyal customers are your company’s best recruiters and biggest advocates. Treat your customers right and they’ll return. 

As positive feedback about your business grows, so your business reputation will solidify. 

Make sure loyal customers feel special by letting them in on special deals and offers exclusive to VIP clients.

3. Make buying easy

Make buying easy. Users need a glitch-free experience, from choosing products to loading their cart, to checking out. 

Use a trusted eCommerce solution like Shopify that will help you to provide a seamless shopping experience even if you are not tech-savvy and don’t have a budget or staff to get this done for you. In case you use WordPress and WooCommerce, go with a reliable WP builder with rich eCommerce functionality (check this list for the best options).

A great user experience is a great buying experience, and, according to Statista, 60% of United States consumers use companies with great customer service.

Plus, as the PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey shows almost 20% of people will simply walk away when technology doesn’t help to guide their purchases:

So, make sure your store functions properly at all times, on all platforms (website, app, offline – everywhere), and that it makes buying process easy.

Last but not the least, don’t make shipping costs a surprise. Let customers know what they’ll pay for shipping upfront.

Set the bar high for your company’s customer service standards. It will attract and retain customers. 

4. Lead with social media jabs, follow through with a printed power punch

Everybody’s connected all the time now. 

That means omnichannel marketing offers many different avenues to reach clients. Use social media posts and online advertising to your advantage by exposing your product to a broad spectrum of people. 

Once you’ve targeted a list of genuine leads, follow up with direct mail or some other form of printed advertising. 

The transition from digital interaction to a physical one makes a lasting impression on consumers. We are all bombarded by digital information and images all day long; suddenly that postcard from your marketing team is no longer “junk mail,” but a physical manifestation of the thing they’ve seen on their smartphone screen, the digital made real.

Plus, developing your own in-house print marketing campaign needn’t be difficult or expensive, especially if you buy your printing supplies from alternative vendors (for example this one) and do things in a cost-effective way.

5. “Tell me about your day.”

This is a simple phrase that pays off big time in customer service. Most of the time a customer will reply, “Oh, it’s fine. Yours?” and you’re on to the next step of the conversation. 

But some customers really want to talk. And, as mentioned above, they want to be heard. They want someone to listen and show understanding and compassion.

Lend an ear to a customer and you’ll likely make a connection that will transform them into a lifelong champion for your brand.

In fact, friendly service is as important to customers as overall customer service efficiency, convenience, and knowledgable staff according to PwC:

Also, don’t make your customers wait to speak to a live sales rep. 

According to Salesforce, 64% of customers expect quality real-time support.

6. Get proactive … and personal

Customer service waits for customers to reach out and reacts to their input. But creating a customer experience means reaching out to customers to follow up on a product or service. It uses past sales data to predict future purchases. 

Be proactive and don’t hesitate to make it personal. For example:

  • “Happy birthday, [FirstName]! We hope you’ll celebrate with this special discount.”
  • “Your anniversary is coming up next month … would you like to see some possible gifts for your wife?”
  • “We noticed you use our product every six months and your last order was five months ago. Would you like to reorder?”

7. Get ahead of customer complaints

Most of the time customers are right — a mistake was made on your end. 

Not only do you have to correct the error immediately, but you also have to anticipate how it may have adversely affected the customer. 

What will it take to regain their trust and keep them a client? 

Sometimes, “We’re terribly sorry” will cover it … other times a discount on future business helps.

8. Don’t fear AI

Artificial intelligence and CRM should work hand-in-hand to deliver a seamless customer experience. AI delivers fast service to your customers and makes it easier for your employees to answer questions and resolve issues. 

While chatbots and automated marketing campaigns are great for funneling visitors to your online business, don’t make your customers wait too long before they reach a human being.

Research shows that the majority of people still want to interact with a real person as technology improves:

More than that, 55% of the respondents in the US and 43% of the respondents globally don’t believe that advanced technology eliminates the need for people in providing great customer service:

So, adding a touch of personalized service will always separate your business from its competitors, raising the bar on your company’s customer service standards.

Even simple things like addressing your customers by their first names and making reference to past purchases show you remember them and understand their needs.

Don’t let your business lose the human touch in a world of automation.

CRM streamlines and organizes a variety of business management tasks … but only if you know how to use the software. Get well versed in how CRM works, but don’t become a slave to it. Good CRM is customizable so you can scale it and format it specifically for your business. 

Step up your customer service standard by combining “human” representatives with automation and AI (Artificial Intelligence). A quality cloud-based phone system not only helps funnel customers to the right live representative but also protects critical customer data.

9. Answer and explain … don’t sell. 

Your online business isn’t selling anything — not at first. Your main goal should be to give customers information.

As already mentioned above, don’t make shipping costs a surprise. Let customers know what they’ll pay for shipping upfront.

Don’t make your customers guess about product specifications — show them what they need and make it easy for them to get it.

Visitors to your website should understand exactly what you’re offering before they decide to buy. 

Give them all the information they need upfront: 

  • Products
  • Specifications
  • Uses
  • Precautions
  • FAQ

Put knowledge upfront. 

Once they know what they want, make it easy for them to find.

You can also combine this with your inbound marketing. Try to attract new customers and keep the existing ones with the help of great and up-to-date information on your website and social media. This combination when done right can lead to a very powerful synergy between two important parts of your business – customer service and content marketing.

10. Let customers do it themselves

Some people like to do things for themselves. Make your customer service DIY-friendly by having an updated FAQ page and a robust support section for troubleshooting and answering questions. 

Consider adding a Knowledge Base to your site. According to this survey, 91% of customers are happy to use a Knowledge Base that targets their needs.

When it comes to customer service, some customers like to do it themselves. Allow them to with an updated FAQ page and a Knowledge Base. 

Forrester’s research found that 53% of US customers will abandon their online purchase if they can’t find the answer to a question quickly. 

Don’t be on the wrong side of that statistic! 

Make the information they’re looking for easy to find by adding metadata tags to your online content and search capabilities for your website. 

11. Elevate your phone game

The importance of call handling cannot be overstated. Whatever product you’re selling, you’ll need live staff on the back end to offer support. Customers need to know they’re in good hands.

They want to feel confident they’re getting their money’s worth. Having a great inbound call center can be the difference between success and failure for e-retailers.

While the 2020 ACA Survey found most customers prefer email communication, a follow-up phone call is still a powerful tool

We predict the old-fashioned phone call will make a comeback in the customer service field over the next few years. “Everything old is new again” and eCommerce customers appreciate hearing a “real human voice” behind the products they buy online.

Phone etiquette is not only polite, it’s a customer service essential. 

Make sure your customer service sales team:

  • Speaks clearly
  • Uses proper language
  • Remains upbeat and cheerful
  • Actively listens

Remember, never interrupt a customer. Be the problem-solver you were meant to be!

Treat your customers to a live follow-up phone call…the results will surprise you!

12. Step-up your smartphone marketing strategy

Design emails and marketing materials with a smartphone screen in mind. That’s how people discover things these days. 

Keep this in mind when you’re designing your next marketing campaign. The first impression you make on customers will be through their phones. Make it a good one!

13. Do follow-up right 

Don’t let your customers feel you’ve abandoned them once payment is made. Follow-up is part of the sales processes, perhaps the most vital part. 

Making sure your customers are happy and knowledgeable about your product after they’ve spent money goes a long way toward building customer loyalty and brand trust. 

If you can increase customer retention rates by 5%, you can increase profits by up to 75% according to Super Office!

14. “If you’re happy with your service, please leave us a positive review!” 

If you want something, sometimes you have to ask. 

Don’t hesitate to ask customers to leave a positive review if they’re happy with your products and services. (And — if you’ve done your job right — they should be happy!)

Customers influence other customers. The importance of five-star reviews and high customer ratings are outlined in a report from Success Qualtrics. Simply put, people show more trust in businesses with high review ratings.

High review scores mean better business!

15. “Please like and repost!”

Creating engaging social media content is part of increasing your customer service standards. 

Post answers to frequently asked questions on social media. You’ll be giving people the information they didn’t know they needed while quietly building brand awareness and trust. Don’t put your social media on auto-pilot … get the conversation started!

Create and share content frequently, as well as curate content you think your customers and clients will find interesting or informative. Maintain a consistent tone of “brand voice” across all of your social media platforms. 

Importantly, try to meet your customers’ expectations by providing customer service through your social media channels (FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc.) in addition to your standard customer service channels. More and more people today expect harmonized omnichannel experience across different digital mediums, so they may get easily disappointed if their customer service requests are not adequately handled on social media.

16. “We have another product you may be interested in …” 

First and foremost, customer service is about satisfying customers and making them feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth. 

You want them to be happy about their purchase. But, with some customers, the path to user experience nirvana lies in another purchase. 

It doesn’t hurt for your customer service experience to include additional products or services. 

Keep it low pressure and respond to customer requests naturally and you’ll find some customers want to fill their carts with more goodies … they just needed a little additional customer service! 

It’s important to have both your sales reps and customer service staff trained in this type of subtle cross-selling.

Customer Service’s “Like-Me” Legacy…and Future

Train your staff right. Give them the right tools and training to help customers quickly and efficiently. Perhaps most importantly, give your staff decision-making powers. This will not only increase the efficiency of your customer service but also get employees more invested in the company.

Don’t forget that bad employee attitude is the number one reason that drives people away from your business (both in the US and globally):

Customer service was once a cornerstone of American commerce. Local banks gave away free toasters and/or steak knives if you opened a new account. A team of uniformed attendants cleaned your windshield and checked your tire pressure every time you refill your car’s gas tank. 

Over the past 50 years, much of the human touch of American business has been lost to automated assembly lines and information kiosks. 

But things are changing. 

Maybe COVID quarantines forced people to reevaluate and appreciate the benefits of real human interaction. Perhaps consumer behaviors are coming full circle. Whatever the reason, customer service is once again at the forefront of modern business. 

Building customer trust in a digital age isn’t easy. That’s why your company needs to step up its customer service game. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling physical products or a subscription service — the success or failure of your business hinges on customer service.

All images from Envato elements unless noted otherwise.