Rebecca Garland
Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert

Marketing has many forms, and word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most effective ones. Brand loyalty pays off, but to inspire that sort of loyalty in our customers, we need to have excellent customer service. That’s why it is ranked at the top of all consumer preferences.

It’s not enough to sell something that works or provide a service that does a job. Customers want an individualized experience that makes them feel comfortable with your company and confident in the service and care they will receive. If customer service isn’t outstanding, it’s time to polish it up. Not sure how to improve customer service? It may be easier than you think.

How to Find Issues Within Your Customer Service Department

You can’t fix anything in a customer service department if you don’t know where the issues are. Fortunately, finding issues with the customer service strategy doesn’t take much digging. Customers are always ready and willing to provide feedback, especially about ways to improve customer service.

Read the Online Reviews

Online reviews are full of information about your company and the experiences of your customers. They are leaving online reviews across many different platforms, and all you need to do is locate the consumer reviews, read what they are saying, and you’ll immediately have a list of things you can start improving.

Start a Dialogue With Customers

Many customers share their feedback immediately through customer service reviews, but you can get even more information (and start improving your customer support) by engaging with these same customers. Monitor the activity of your consumers on review websites.

Respond to the customers when they leave positive or negative reviews. Thank them for the feedback and use the engagement as a chance to ask additional questions about how to improve customer service and the customer experience. Bonus! 89% of consumers are likely to use a company that responds to online reviews.

Use Social Media Feeds

Social media should be a major consideration in the customer service strategy. Much like review sites, social media is a great place to engage with customers and monitor customer service reviews being left on your page or solicit your own through polls, questions, and other conversation starters with customers online.

Ask For Feedback

In addition to monitoring review websites and social media, you can ask your customers for feedback. There are many ways to survey customers about improving customer service. You can ask for feedback through:

  • polls and surveys on social media;
  • quick survey after an online transaction;
  • phone survey after a customer resolves an issue;
  • follow-up emails and texts.

Check In With the Customer Service Team

The customer service representatives answering the phones or engaging with customers through online platforms likely have a large number of insights about what customers are saying and experiencing. Poll the customer support team about the common complaints they are receiving and the trends and issues they have spotted over time.

How to improve customer service: 9 tips

How to Improve Customer Service to Achieve the Best Efficiency

Once you have tapped into the customers' minds, it’s time to start improving customer service. You have some ideas about what needs some polishing in your interactions with customers, so now it’s time to dig into sorting out how to improve customer service in your company.

Read on for practical ideas on how to immediately start implementing some customer service improvement strategies.

1. Determine What Your Customers Want and Need

You’ve been gathering information about your customers, now it’s time to curate that information and boil it down to the most important ways to improve customer service. What do the customers want? 62% of customers will have read reviews before engaging with customer support. You should absolutely do the same.

  • What are the most common complaints and concerns from customers?
  • How do the customers currently feel about your company?
  • How are satisfied customers being treated?
  • What trends have we noted about the customer experience?
  • How can we track the customer experience as we work to improve customer service?

2. Set Clear Customer Service Standards for Your Company

Perhaps the most important of the customer service improvement strategies, you will need to set clear expectations and standards for the customer support team in your company. These standards should be clear and easy for your employees to follow so that every customer interaction meets your standards. You should consider:

  • The appropriate tone for customer service interactions.
  • The company’s universal approach to customer complaints and concerns.
  • The necessary hierarchy of the customer support team when situations need oversight or escalation.
  • How much autonomy employees will have in finding solutions to customer support issues.

3. Invest in Your Customer Service Team

Customer service can be a challenging role for any employee, but especially one who is undertrained and unsupported. For the best customer care in your company, you should actively invest in and help a customer service team by training them well, supporting them in their interactions with customers, and maximizing their unique skills and abilities.

It will provide value to your company and your customers as well as reward the representative’s hard work. As you work with your team, think about:

  • How you can create a powerful training platform for employees.
  • The best ways to lead by example and have strong managers help guide employees.
  • How to determine and maximize the unique skills of your team members.

4. Exceed the Expectations of Customers

You don’t just want to meet the needs of your customers; you want to delight them with your personalized experiences and your attention to the details of their experiences. Add a bit of extra polish or a special touch to your customer interactions by:

  • Using your customer’s name.
  • Noticing details about the customer’s experience, such as repeat purchases, special events, or milestones of customer loyalty.
  • Offering a complimentary product or experience.
  • Including a discount or bonus that goes beyond the customer’s basic expectations.

5. Share the Positive Experiences With Your Team

What is a better way to teach than to lead by example? Sharing positive experiences creates a model for the rest of the customer service team while also showcasing the skills and talents of team members who have done well.

This creates a culture of excellence when we promote those who do well and sing their praises, especially when you are able to showcase a wide range of employee interactions and skills. Consider:

  • Recognizing employees on a regular basis who excel when they help customers.
  • Using excellent interactions as a model for others to learn from.
  • Showcasing and praising specific skills across a wide range of employee interactions.
  • Using a rewards system to praise employees and showcase experiences.
  • Creating models of real interactions to help employees understand expectations and deliverables.

6. Make Customer Service Part of Your Brand

You’ve been celebrating your excellent customer service with employees, but it’s also effective to share the power of great customer care with your consumers as well. Making excellent customer service part of your brand is a powerful marketing strategy.

You can showcase the importance of customer service for your business in many ways:

  • Include third-party reviews on your website.
  • Be specific in telling customers that your goal is to give them great service.
  • Provide multiple ways for customers to engage with customer service including live chat, email, phone calls, social media channels, and more.
  • Create easy ways to find information online about products, services, and contact information.
  • Automate support so that customers can find answers immediately online.

7. Simplify and Elevate the Customer Experience

Consumers want to know what to expect and that you will follow through on your end of the deal. You can simplify your customer experience by streamlining many of the interactions your customer has with your company through the website and when speaking with employees.

Simplify and elevate the experience for customers by:

  • Using clear terms that avoid confusing jargon.
  • Adding options to customize or simplify purchases to meet individual needs.
  • Offering explanations and clear instructions – including images – of what the customer should expect or do.
  • Remove barriers for customers by including step-by-step instructions, visual aids, and offering information in multiple languages or formats.
  • Routinely walk through the customer journey to understand the process and possible frustrations.

8. Make It Easy for Customers to Share Information

According to PissedConsumer data, 64% of companies improve their online ratings by engaging with and talking to customers. Customers want to share experiences not only to resolve their issues but to feel seen and heard by a company they are choosing to do business with.

You can improve customer experience with your business by making it easy for customers to share and complain. The possible ways to help consumers share opinions are:

  • Offering multiple channels for interaction with customers.
  • Asking open-ended questions so that customers can share information.
  • Creating a dialogue that asks follow-up questions and seeks to understand the customer’s unique experience.
  • Providing time for interaction with customers rather than a quick, one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Engaging with customers where they are – online review sites, social media platforms, your FAQ on a website – rather than waiting for them to call you.
  • Having a clear procedure in place for escalating complaints in the customer service team.

9. Benchmark With Competitors

You’ve been focused on the customer service department, but have you checked in with the competition lately? Why not take advantage of their practices from time to time to see how they handle things and how your own approach stacks up?

It’s easy to gather information about how the competition is doing when it comes to customer support:

  • Read competitors' customer reviews on online review websites.
  • Use alert software to keep track of news and reviews about your competition.
  • Monitor the competition’s social media channels.
  • Review a competitor’s website to check out communication channels and information.
  • Engage with the competitor’s customer service after making a small product or service purchase.
  • Send a mystery shopper to your competitor and your own company to see how things stack up.

Create a Culture of Customer Service Excellence

It’s not enough to focus on how you can better support your customers if you aren’t also working to support your staff. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, high customer satisfaction correlates to better company financial performance. Happy staff leads to happy customers, so as you begin your journey to better customer service experiences, focus on treating your staff the same way you would treat the customers.

If a system is good enough for the individuals who are making purchases, it is certainly good enough for those who are making every purchase possible. Your employees need the same clear communication, respect, open dialogue, and personalized experiences that your customers do.

After all, you can’t make sweeping changes in your company without the powerful support of your employees. Show your employees how much you respect and value them, and they will be a dedicated and integral part of improving customer service.

Legal disclaimers:

1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.

2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.