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Client success - 10 min READ

How to define good customer service

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Author photo: Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee

Customer Enablement Manager

Do you want to get more referrals without running expensive marketing campaigns? Or make customers happy—without resorting to product discounts?

Good customer service can do both for you.

But what does “good customer service” actually mean? What does it look like?

If you feel like you’re forcing your customers to stick with your company, then you might need to look at improving your customer experience.

The power in today’s marketplace has shifted so customers now have the upper hand, and they can easily decide who they don’t want or want to do business with.

Luckily, with a few changes in your customer support approach, you can improve the overall level of customer experience and form authentic relationships with your customers.

In this post, we’ll look at:

Shall we?

What is good customer service?

Good customer service varies from company to company, but one of its most important elements is empathy.

Sure, every exchange is a business transaction, but you still need to make sure that each customer is treated like a person and not just a number.

To make sure that every customer feels like they’re talking to a person who actually cares, add a human touch to the conversation.

The best way to do this is by expressing empathy: show them that you believe their concerns are valid and that you’re hearing their opinions and needs.

This might seem like common sense, but it’s surprisingly easy to overlook.

This is especially true in companies that train their customer service teams to maximize efficiency. These companies tend to have a “one-to-many” approach, encouraging customer service reps to talk to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

On the surface, this seems like a financially savvy approach. But when you’re losing customers because they feel ignored or unhappy, it’s not so beneficial in the long run.

Remember: Good customer service doesn’t mean that you have to solve their problems 100% of the time. Sometimes, that’s just not possible, whether it’s because of the circumstances or because of your product’s limitations (which you can’t control).

Using this lens of empathy, let’s look at a few ways that you can provide good customer service.

4 Ways to Provide Good Customer Service

Here are a few tips that can help you up your customer service game.

1. Set goals for customer meetings

When you meet with customers, it’s important to make sure that you use your time wisely. This way, you can be sure that there’s time to address all of their needs.

Setting goals for the meeting helps you stay focused and cover all the necessary bases. It’s also a great way to signal to your customer that you understand their needs and you’re actively working toward meeting them.

At the beginning of the meeting, list the goals you plan to accomplish, then ask them to confirm to make sure you’re both on the same page. This way, they know you’re really listening.

For example, you might start a call by saying, “Jennifer, it’s my understanding that you’re having trouble pulling reports for your team. Is that right?”

Once they agree or clarify, you can state your specific goal and the way you’ll accomplish it:

“Got it. So, during this call, I’ll share my screen to walk you through the process, then I’ll have you share your screen so I can see you do the same. Then hopefully, we’ll be able to figure out what’s going wrong. Does that sound good to you?”

A CRM is a great place to document each customer’s complaint or issue so that your team is always on top of them.

If your CRM lets you tag each other in the comments, even better—this will come in handy when you’re collaborating to help customers solve more complicated problems.

2. Customize your scripts and templates

Call scripts and email templates can save you loads of time and uncertainty. But in a customer service setting, they can actually become more harmful than helpful.

You also run the risk of not speaking pointedly enough about the customer’s specific issue, especially if their issue isn’t common enough to have its own dedicated script.

The same goes for email templates— just pasting in a pre-written script runs the risk of making the message look impersonal. When you use a template, read it carefully and add your own voice.

Whenever you have an opportunity to add specific details about the customer and their issue, do it!

Here’s an example of an email template that leaves space to customize for each customer’s particular issue:

3. Communicate clearly

You don’t have to be an awesome writer to communicate clearly in your customer service emails. But you do have to make sure that your writing is to-the-point and easy to understand.

This is especially true if your company has a technical or complex product or service.

For example, here at Copper, our customer service reps (aka. our Customer Success team) need to make sure they can explain Copper in a way that everyone can understand, even if they’re not particularly tech-savvy.

They use the Hemingway app and Grammarly to write in a way that’s clearer and easier to understand.

The editing app Hemingway points out when your sentences are getting too lengthy or complex so you know when to use simpler language or break them apart.

A grammar editor like Grammarly can help point out spelling and grammar errors while giving tips to make your writing more effective:

4. Use video chat

Phone support works great for many customer questions. But if an issue is heavy on technical details, directing someone to do something over the phone can be like handing out an assignment.

That’s why it’s nice if you can offer video chat support to your customers.

You can use video chat to give a live demo of how to solve a customer’s problem—they’ll appreciate the ability to see exactly what they need to do to resolve the issue.

And, if you and your customer are sharing your screens, you can see how they use the product and if there are features that confuse or exhaust the customer’s experience.

Several companies are using video chat to provide better customer service. IKEA, for instance, offers video chat support to customers who want to plan their kitchen but don’t have knowledge of design.

Customers can book a 2-hour appointment with an IKEA kitchen expert for $79 (the cost is the same for an in-store planning appointment), and then follow the instructions given via video chat to design and assemble their kitchen.

Opt for video chat (you can use any of these tools) over voice calls when possible—this helps to humanize your brand, and can also make it easier to diffuse an angry customer.

In my experience, there’s something about seeing other people face-to-face that helps to disarm anger and make it easier to empathize with one another.

Additional tips for providing good customer service:

Looking for some more ideas to "wow" customers and give them an amazing experience that'll keep them coming back? Here are a few extra tips.

  • Ask for feedback after you’ve provided service. This way, they know that you’re invested in solving their problem. You’ll also likely get some handy tips for future customer interactions.
  • Give customers helpful resources. For example, we’ve created a Help Center where they can get immediate answers to many common questions. Most customers tend to be happy to trouble-shoot on their own, without having to go back-and-forth with a customer service team.
  • Make it fun. Don’t be afraid to show your lighter side when dealing with customers. If you think your customer has a funny bone, add a little fun into your customer service encounters by sharing a laugh, joke or meme that’s currently trending.

What to do in challenging situations?

Any customer service rep can tell you that sometimes, all the preparation in the world can’t save you from the occasional sticky situation.

From furious customers to product glitches, the best reps know how to take each moment in stride. Here are some tips to help you do the same:

  • Try not to take it personally. If you can develop a thick skin, you’ll be able to focus more on the customer’s needs instead of your own feelings. Even if the customer seems mad at you, it usually isn’t the case—their anger probably stems from their experience with the product or company at large.
  • Apologize where an apology is due, like if someone dropped the ball or an expectation wasn’t met. A simple apology can be an incredible anger diffuser, as it shows empathy and your willingness to see things from the customer’s perspective.
  • If things get too heated, take a minute to collect yourself. This might involve passing a customer to a teammate who’s willing to help. Just be mindful that the customer isn’t waiting too long before their needs are addressed.
  • Find support in your teammates and get advice from people who've had similar experiences in their own customer conversations. There’s wisdom in the masses, and you never know what helpful tips you’ll uncover.
  • Use your CRM to keep detailed notes about each customer. This way, you (and your teammates) can stay on top of what they need without grasping at straws or guessing what the customer is upset about:
  • Bring a professional attitude and technical mindset to the table, but remember you're talking to another human being—empathy is critical, especially when an issue escalates.
  • Be mindful of the tone of your emails. If you’re using Grammarly, take advantage of the tone detector, which scans your text and lets you know how your tone might come off to the customer.

Examples of good customer service

I’ve seen both great and not-so-great examples of customer service from companies. Here are three of the best that can serve as inspiration for your own customer happiness efforts.

1. JetBlue – Makes its customers feel special

JetBlue is known for good customer service, and is also a company that’s quick to address social media queries. Whether they receive positive comments or negative, JetBlue goes out of its way to respond to every customer.

As an example, JetBlue customer Alexa Burrows tweeted how upset she was that her vacation had ended and she was having to go home. She jokingly requested for a parade to welcome her and she landed.

Guess what. JetBlue fulfilled her request:

Listening to your customers and fulfilling casual requests—especially if they don’t expect you to make it happen—can really help your company stand out.

2. Getaround – Has great support

Getaround connects car owners with people who want to get a car on rent. Owners can create Airbnb-style profiles for their vehicles and decide if they want to rent it out on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis.

The company has consistently grown since is launch and now spans 300 cities in Europe and the U.S.

Their secret? Excellent customer service at every single touchpoint.

I’ve been a Getaround renter for a couple of years and I’ve always had positive interactions with their support team. In one instance, they fixed my broken windows.

While renting a car through them is expensive, the responsiveness and professional attitude of their support team makes it a worthy investment.

For in-trip emergencies, you can reach Getaround agent over the phone through its mobile app:

Adding convenience to customer support, both on mobile and desktop, is good for business and always makes for happy customers.

3. Innocent Drinks – Uses humor to lighten the mood

Simple annoyances such as a damaged item or delayed shipping can frustrate your customers, but a humorous response that also validates the customer’s emotions can help calm the situation.

It’s a very fine line, so approach this tactic with caution. If it’s a very serious mistake (like you shared your customers’ private information by accident), best to skip this method.

But if it’s a pretty small hiccup, like the example, below, then the potential reward just might be worth it.

To learn how humor can be used properly, read this apology letter from fruit smoothie business Innocent Drinks in response to a complaint:

It’s genuine, short, and funny. The brand was able to analyze the situation perfectly and lighten the mood with a couple of funny lines.

It’s important to note that this only works because the mistake was relatively trivial (no one was hurt, there was no invasion of privacy or anything serious, etc.) and it was something the brand could own up to without losing trust with their customers.

As a small business owner, use your judgement to decide when you can use humor in your customer service conversations.

Good customer service can propel your business to new heights

Customers are the lifeblood of every business and should always be your first priority.

Whether you’re running a service-based business or product-based business, the way you treat your customers will reflect on your company’s bottom line.

The good news is that good customer service can help you make customers happy and bring in more business.

And when you implement customer service tips like the ones we’ve discussed, you’ll find that customers think better of you—and are more likely to keep giving you their business.

By improving your communication skills, being empathetic, and helping customers in real time, you can turn almost every customer interaction into a positive one.

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