What is world class customer service? It is a question that I am sure many people will have varying opinions on but all will lead to the same thing - making customers' lives easier and giving them an experience that helps them. Providing world class customer service should leave a customer with an experience they will cherish. Making sure customers feel important will ensure that they would have no hesitation in dealing with you again and will attract more customers, and ultimately, more revenue.

When we think about companies that provide outstanding customer service, what is it that led us to believe that they do? Was it a particular experience, a particular person, or perhaps a particular act that the company did that was better than what you expected? If a company or individual does more than you expect, this can leave a lasting impression and a customer that is likely to return, and tell others. In the age of the internet your reputations and sales can easily be damaged by a disgruntled customer providing a bad review about you so it is very important to think about how you can provide a better service to your customers to avoid it.

Below are 10 things that companies should look at when looking to provide excellent customer service:

1. Listen to your customers

It seems obvious but you would be surprised how many companies do not listen to their customers. It is easy to say, but more difficult to do. Remember, the customer is always right so always ensure you hear and understand what the customer is saying.

2. Be empathetic

When a customer contacts your support desk, it is usually because they are in a state of agitation so always be understanding and empathetic irrespective of why they are speaking to you.

3. Customer service culture

Customer service is not a department; it’s an attitude, and one that should resonate right through an organisation. Putting customers first right the way through an organisation will always ensure that the customer is heard in all parts of your business.

4. Keep customers updated

It pays to keep the customer updated on progress. You need to be careful not to harass the customer with meaningless updates but ensure that customers are kept in the loop until their issue is resolved. Don’t let the customer get to the point where they wonder what is happening next as they will either email or phone you for the update. 

Discover ten ways to connect with today's customer in this colorful infographic.

5. Hiring the right people

It seems obvious but some companies hire out of necessity rather than taking the time to hire the right people. Having the right people dealing with customers will have a positive impact on the customer experience and customer satisfaction.

6. Be honest

A reputation is hard won but easily lost. Customers are not stupid, treat them with respect. Be honest and own up to problems and show the customer you are human and that they can trust you.

7. Speed of response

Whenever a customer has a need to contact you, it is done at the point they have the problem. If you can respond quickly, then the customer can continue with limited interruption. Don’t leave the customer long enough for them to get fed up waiting and go somewhere else. 

Need to speed things up? Check out these 10 secrets of automating customer service.

8. Answer the phone

How many times have you been on hold and heard a message saying “Your call is important to us”. Large companies like to tell people that their call is important but then are quite happy to leave a customer on hold for long periods of time. Over time, this call holding becomes the company culture with little focus on remedying the situation. Customers are busy, make life easy for them and they will return. So answer the phone in a timely manner and show that customer they are really important to you.

9. Complaints and escalations

If a customer has any need to escalate or complain then you need to make sure you leave the customer feeling happy. This is not easy to do as the customer is already unhappy with the way that they have been dealt with which will have no doubt followed company policy. If you really are serious about growing your business, do whatever is necessary to keep the customer happy, including making a loss if need be on a single transaction. It will pay off over time as customers will not be afraid to come back!

10. Pre-empt further questions

When responding to a customer, pre-empt any further questions they may raise from the answer you give them. Providing a full and detailed response to their question they have not yet asked will always impress!

When dealing with customers you need to do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it and keep the customer updated. Don’t over communicate but ensure a customer does not get to the stage where they wonder what should be happening next.

Things will go wrong from time to time but what separates good companies from great companies is what they do about it and how they handle it. Always make a customer feel important and give them a buying experience to remember, in a highly positive way. Believe me, they will come back, and bring their friends.

Customer service can be the differentiator between success and failure so consider whether you provide your customers the very best service you can. It will not only keep you in the game for longer, it will differentiate you from your competitors and help grow your business.

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About the Author

Having worked in retail for 10 years before joining Brightpearl, and gaining 5 years experience in various customer facing roles while working at Brightpearl HQ, Hwe has gained excellent insight into the challenges facing fast growing retailers. Now Customer Success Lead of EMEA, he is the driving force behind ensuring clients derive maximum value from Brightpearl. Hwe studied Business Administration at the University of the West of England in Bristol. When he's not looking after his two children, you’ll find him out on the hills riding his bike.