Your Guide to Delivering Quality Customer Service

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No matter what line of business you’re in, it’s critical to pay attention to the quality of your customer service delivery if you want to keep your customers happy. Read on to find out how much of a difference quality customer service can make — and how you can start taking action today.

Quality Customer Service, by the Numbers

The importance of delivering good customer service becomes all the more significant when it’s quantified. Consider these numbers that speak to the value of quality customer service:

What business wouldn’t want to reap the benefits of word-of-mouth exposure and loyal customers who keep coming back?

But, sometimes, the dramatic results and exciting possibilities make it easy to forget where to start. Let’s zoom out and establish a clearer vision for what quality customer service can and should be.

Before You Can Deliver a Great Customer Experience, You Need to Define It

An important first step toward delivering great customer service is understanding what quality service actually looks like — to your customers and to your employees.

What It Means to Your Customers

One way to find out what the ideal customer experience (CX) looks like is to dig into the most common customer expectations. If you understand what your audience anticipates when they reach out to a support agent, you can model your customer service systems and procedures around that vision.

We’ve previously highlighted the top 10 customer service qualities that can contribute to top-notch customer care. Here’s an overview of the characteristics your customers expect to see from support agents:

  1. Respectful: Show an appreciation for customers’ time, energy and business as well as the situation that caused them to reach out.
  2. Attentive: Use active listening skills that uncover what the customer is and isn’t saying, and show that you’re invested in helping them.
  3. Caring: Exhibit empathy and emotional intelligence to demonstrate a genuine concern for your customer’s feelings.
  4. Positive: Transform customer complaints into positive touchpoints with the brand by leading with a positive attitude and a warm, friendly tone.
  5. Patient: Demonstrate plenty of patience when attempting to fully understand someone’s frustrating situation and work toward the type of resolution that leaves them a satisfied customer.
  6. Communicative: Employ strong communication skills to ensure that your responses are as clear, informative and helpful as they can be.
  7. Knowledgeable: Be prepared and forthcoming with expert knowledge about products or services, giving your customers the support and answers they’re looking for.
  8. Determined: Prove that you’re actively committed to discovering the root of the issue and arriving at a solution that meets your customers’ needs.
  9. Creative: Use outside-of-the-box thinking and sharp problem-solving skills to tackle more nuanced and complex issues with personalized solutions.
  10. Efficient: Find ways to minimize the time and effort you put into your support services while maximizing the results to improve the customer experience.

If you’re not sure how your business stacks up against the ideal customer experience, take a look at our ultimate CX checklist.

What It Means to Your Agents

Excellent customer service starts with empowered employees. As these customer expectations show, your audience expects to interact with highly skilled agents. But having the right customer service skills is just the baseline.

Customer care agents must also possess:

  • Expertise to represent your products and services.
  • Data to gain a 360-degree view of the customer.
  • Authority to take action on behalf of a customer.
  • Tools to manage their work efficiently.

However, they won’t show up with these resources and capabilities on day one. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your staff is adequately trained and that they have access to industry-leading software solutions designed to support quality customer care delivery.

Easy Ways to Start Improving Your Customer Service Right Now

With a better idea of what superior service looks like, you can start making informed decisions and steady progress toward improving your customer service and experience. Here are some simple steps to take right away. While they don’t require too much effort, they can lead you in the right direction and result in a much-improved experience for employees and customers alike.

Get Used to Measuring Customer Service Metrics

Your customer interactions can generate valuable data — if you’re prepared to collect it. With the right insights at your disposal, you can identify service gaps, bottlenecks and other pain points for customers and agents.

For example, a high abandonment rate could mean you need to respond to each customer inquiry sooner than you do right now. A high resolution rate paired with a low satisfaction rate could indicate an issue with how customers feel they’re being treated.

If you haven’t done so in the past, take some time to craft and distribute satisfaction surveys and generate internal reports to see where things stand. Focus on measuring and interpreting these important customer service metrics (and learn more about what they mean here):

  • Customer service abandonment rate
  • Customer retention rate
  • Resolution rate
  • Average resolution time
  • First response time
  • Customer effort score (CES)
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Sentiment analysis

Start Anticipating Your Customers’ Needs

Shifting from a reactive mindset to a proactive one can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your customer care. Getting ahead of customer needs and concerns is a great way to promote a more positive CX and better prepare your agents.

For instance, retailers heading into the holiday rush can beef up their customer support teams with seasonal employees. Companies can anticipate continued COVID-19 complications and prepare with contingency plans and clear communications.

Additionally, brands can adopt an omnichannel approach and provide customer service via phone, mobile chat and even social media. This allows customers to access the help they need no matter what device they’re using to reach out. Even better, customers can switch channels seamlessly, without skipping a beat or losing context. And companies that plan to embrace remote work for a longer duration can implement the right tools to let customer care teams work from anywhere.

Discover the Impact of Upgrading Your Customer Service Software

Bringing the vision of superior customer service to life requires the right infrastructure. Kustomer’s leading customer service CRM platform can help you achieve those goals faster and more seamlessly by providing the data, automation and customization your business needs.

To discover more, request a free demo today.
 

Measuring the Intangible Benefits of a Customer Service Solution

When companies begin to look for customer service solutions, it’s often because there are major issues they need to solve. But oftentimes, these issues are intangible things such as a general lack of efficiency, a sense of ineffectiveness, a need for call deflection and other matters that seem hard to quantify. The benefits of customer service might seem hard to measure at first.

After identifying concrete and intangible challenges, the next step for companies is to find a way to resolve those issues and ultimately achieve customer service success. This certainly won’t happen overnight, but the process is worth it when you consider the benefits of quality customer service for your customers as well as your company as a whole.

Here, we describe the characteristics and benefits of excellent customer service and cover how to measure them.

Who Benefits From Good Customer Service?

The answer to this question really is that everyone involved benefits from excellent customer service. If you think about it, what is the purpose of good customer service if not to create more satisfied and loyal customers, happier and more successful agents and a healthier bottom line?

There really are benefits of providing quality customer service for the customer, the agent and the business as a whole. In many cases, when one aspect is improved, all stakeholders will experience the positive impact. The results of good customer service and the advantages of service quality improvements can often be felt instinctively, but they can also be quantified with some of the top customer satisfaction metrics.

Benefits of Customer Service Excellence

Let’s explore some of the top benefits of customer service excellence for the customer, agent and business — and how you can measure them:

Increased Customer Service Efficiency

An efficient process is one that requires little input but yields maximum output. Improved efficiency in a customer service environment means that you empower your customer support agents to do less and help more. The advantages of this are increased productivity, higher-quality customer service and a stronger sense of job satisfaction. After all, how many employees want to work harder and produce fewer results?

Using Kustomer, agents can use shortcut words to type a complete sentence with just a #hashtag, while quick keys allow them to use the keyboard instead of the mouse. With these tools, some agents can handle multiple chat screens while others are better able to process emails more quickly. Additionally, the Kustomer timeline surfaces all customer interactions on a single screen, preventing the need to bounce back and forth between different systems.

All of these elements lead to a more efficient and productive workforce. Organizations that demonstrate improved efficiency can track improvements through customer satisfaction metrics like faster resolution times and an increase in the number of conversations each agent handles.

Greater Customer Service Effectiveness

Increased effectiveness means making it easier for agents to excel at their jobs. This involves providing agents with the right customer service training, tools and resources to successfully resolve customer issues and offer personalized support.

For example, Kustomer’s actionable context cards allow agents to do things like issue refunds directly from their screens and easily route conversations to other agents who can provide the right type of assistance.

Companies that increase customer service effectiveness realize benefits through improved customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, faster case resolution times and higher customer retention rates.

Improved Customer Deflection

Companies that can deflect easily avoidable customer support conversations free up agents’ time for more complex issues.

This can be done by providing resources like an easily accessible knowledge base or FAQ section which deflect simple questions like the company’s hours of operation, store locations and refund policies. Even an AI chatbot can address immediate needs before transferring customers to a live chat with a skilled agent when needed. Additionally, proactive outreach capabilities allow agents to address customer concerns before they arise. An example might be sending a notification to all customers in a certain region that an impending storm system may delay shipments.

Not only are these self-service resources beneficial for customers, who can get immediate answers with very little effort, but they also take a burden off of customer care agents who then have the bandwidth to handle higher-level issues. Organizations that successfully deflect customer support conversations witness the benefits of good customer service by seeing a lower number of new cases and more favorable customer effort scores (CES).

Enhanced Satisfaction and Loyalty

The ability to give or receive exceptional customer support can boost customer satisfaction as well as agent satisfaction (ASAT). All of the above benefits of customer service help establish a more loyal and content workforce as well as a community of happy customers, both of which are critical to business success.

Brand advocates are more likely to spread positive messages about your company to friends and family members, post glowing product reviews or employer feedback, and offer sustained support for your company. New employees and customers are more expensive to acquire, so facilitating a great employee and customer experience should be a top priority. Metrics for measuring success in this area include CSAT score, ASAT score and net promoter score (NPS) as well as customer and employee retention rates and churn.

Better-Informed Business Decision-Makers

In addition to the more obvious advantages of customer care success, such as a bottom-line boost and increased word-of-mouth reach, there are also benefits of evaluating customer service experience and performance.

Any good customer care strategy involves tracking KPIs and monitoring important customer service metrics. Armed with insights like CES, CSAT, net promoter score, sentiment analysis, resolution time, call abandonment rate, resolution rate and customer retention, decisionmakers can implement data-driven, customer-centric changes and continue monitoring the results.

Now that you’re familiar with some of the key benefits of a good customer service solution, find out what specific tools and features you should be looking for in our buyer’s guide.

 

4 Easy Ways to Strengthen Your Brand Through Customer Service in 2020

Have you ever ended a call with a customer service agent thinking that you’d never want to go through such a horrible experience again? You probably shared your experiences with friends and family, or went so far as posting your negative thoughts across social media.

One angry consumer not only means a lost customer, but could also mean a hit to your brand or a PR nightmare. Your customer service agents need tools that promote a positive experience for each and every customer. The following are four easy ways to strengthen your brand through customer service in 2020.

Speak with Customer in the Ways They Want to Communicate

Enabling your agents to service customers on their preferred channels, whether that be e-mail, chat, SMS, voice, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Twitter, strengthens the bond between companies and their customers. Consumers expect brands to be available on each and every channel they regularly use, but oftentimes tracking conversations and interactions across channels can be a challenge for agents. With Kustomer, conversations across channels converge into a single thread on a single screen, resulting in a seamless and effortless conversation. By breaking down the communication silos of traditional multichannel solutions that fragment service experiences, cause agent collision, and frustrate customers, Kustomer ensures a true omnichannel experience for customers and agents alike.

Reach out to Your Customers Proactively

Customers understand that problems happen all the time. Proactive communication allows companies to keep their customers updated on issues like delays in shipping, out of stock items or product updates. Customers empathize that problems arise and feel valued when kept in the loop, while inbound inquiries are reduced due to proactive outreach. Some organizations turn their CX organization into a revenue center by sending offers based on purchase history, deep insights or to encourage repeat purchases. With all of your data in the Kustomer platform, your customer service team can proactively communicate to deflect issues and delight customers.

Measure Your Customer Sentiment

Agents need to understand the mood of the customer before the conversation begins. Sentiment determines the direction of the conversation, which agent should handle the customer and how to handle the interaction. Customers are happy because agents can immediately empathize with their emotions. Agents are happy because they are aware of the customer’s current disposition and are trained to handle difficult interactions appropriately. Tracking customers’ sentiment helps agents decide how to best prioritize and engage in conversations, and provides management with a critical metric for overall customer service effectiveness.

Know Everything About Your Customers

Companies that develop deep insights about their customers, and leverage them appropriately to provide personalization, will improve their brand image. Tracking important customer information like birthdays, anniversaries or most recently purchased items on a customer timeline softens conversations and makes for a memorable experience. Agents can see deep insights quickly and easily and can, for instance, wish their customers a happy birthday. A personalized call can switch sentiment from potentially hostile to neutral or even positive. Kustomer connects your agents to all of your customers’ data from internal and third-party systems, providing a holistic timeline view for more productive and efficient conversations.

Strengthening your brand begins with asking tough questions. Is customer sentiment appropriate for your business? Is speaking with your customers through an omnichannel approach important? What types of customer information would you track that could impact your brand? Once these questions are answered, a platform like Kustomer could help you kickstart a successful 2020.

See the Kustomer Platform in Action

 

What Is Conversational Service—And Why Is It the Latest Trend in Customer Support?

You may be hearing about “conversational” support, and we’ve previously discussed some examples, but let’s pin down what it really means in practice. Conversational support, service, and experience are methods of helping customers that focus on building a long-term relationship, rather than resolving a series of issues. They use context and conversations to make it easy for customers to get help while allowing agents to provide more personalized support at scale.

Read our full whitepaper here.

Imagine trying to build a friendship with someone new if you had to ask for their name, address, and a list of interests every time you interacted. They’d be understandably upset that you couldn’t remember anything about them. And you wouldn’t be able to build a relationship if you start from the ground up with every conversation. Ease of communication and connection are starting to raise customer expectations, and they increasingly expect the same treatment from brands as they do from their friends.

Delivering this level of relational support might have been impossible at scale even a few years ago. But technology is catching up to the expectations of customers. By integrating systems and channels, and empowering agents to build relationships, every company now has the ability to deliver conversational customer support to every single customer.

So, what constitutes conversational service?

Omnichannel Outreach

With so many support channels available, the variety can be overwhelming. Instead of putting that burden on your customers, why not implement an omnichannel support solution and let them reach you on their preferred method—whether that’s email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, mobile app messages, voice, or any other option you offer?

Traditional transactional support treats each new contact through a different channel as a different incident. Help desks allow agents to “merge” these transactions into one, but agents have to locate the tickets and information frequently gets lost between multiple systems.

When using an omnichannel support system, it’s easy for customers to contact you on their end while the conversation continues between channels, ensuring sure all the relevant information stays in one place.

An Integrated View

Understanding how customers have come to land in your queue is a big part of conversational customer support. Context is key to helping customers effectively. Pulling context from other systems, including your own product or storefront, makes it easy to see what’s going wrong, or even jump in proactively.

For example:

  • Does the customer have an order being delivered? What’s the current status of the shipment?
  • What other products have the customer purchased? Can you suggest something that fits their previous history?
  • Does the customer have a quarterly business review or renewal coming up? Should sales be pulled into the conversation?
  • Has the customer searched the knowledge base already? Have they read relevant documentation, or would that be helpful to send?

Creating a support environment that allows for ongoing conversations and a 360 view of the customer, rather than one-off phone calls or email tickets, enables you to build better relationships with your customers.

Building Rapport

It’s not always what you say—it’s also how you say it. Most people already have a good idea of what a conversational tone sounds like. It’s friendly, engaging and polite. There’s no lecturing or academic business-speak, and it doesn’t sound robotic. It’s easy to follow, and when you read it out loud, it sounds helpful and natural.

Because conversational customer support helps build relationships, you might see the same customers coming back time and time again for support. You’ll have their previous conversation history available, so feel free to ask them how their last trip went, how their daughter liked their new shoes, or wish them a happy birthday—as long as it’s professional.

Moving beyond a dry, transactional tone helps break down walls between you and the customer.

To recap:

By taking a more conversational approach, you can win over customers with an experience that feels personal, intuitive, and informed by what they really want. In essence, conversational service is how you can help your agents and your brand act and feel more human.

Whitepaper: From Transactional Service to Conversational Experience

The best way to implement conversational customer support effectively is with a tool built to handle it. Whichever one you choose—Kustomer or another option—you need a full view of the customer, omnichannel capabilities, and full agent empowerment. With that, your team can finally deliver a modern, meaningful customer experience. To learn more about how Kustomer can help deliver a conversational experience for your brand, request a demo below:

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