Think about the last time you had a truly amazing customer service experience. Was it in response to something going wrong? Was it an individual going above and beyond? Was the company involved or embody great service? Whatever the context, it was memorable—and probably helped to ensure your loyalty as a customer.
If you’re an entrepreneur, leader, or manager, delivering a superior customer service experience should be one of your top priorities.
Why is Customer Service So Important?
If you want to grow your business and establish a loyal customer base, it’s crucial to understand the role customer service plays in scaling a business. Some of the biggest companies, like Amazon and Apple, got to where they are today by focusing on the customer’s needs. Although only a handful of companies ever get so large, customer service can be a way for businesses in all industries to differentiate themselves from competitors in a positive way, paving the way for growth.
Customers care about their experience with a company or organization overall, not just the product or service itself. Many high-end products, while generally of good quality, are selling their customer experience and reputation, not just the product itself. Customers who have a good experience will tell people about it, increasing the brand’s value and providing word-of-mouth marketing.
Tips for Delivering a Truly Superior Customer Service Experience
As a leader in your company, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re communicating with your team to deliver the best customer experience possible, whether you’re the CEO of a startup or a shift lead at Starbucks. When issues and obstacles arise, it’s often because someone is not communicating effectively.
It’s the leader's job to improve that communication and ensure that all customers get the same level of high-quality customer service. If you want to improve your company’s customer service, be sure to take notes of these key principles for success.
1. Become a Good Listener
Your customers don’t want to hear you talk—they want to tell you how they feel. Holding yourself back from speaking until the customer has had a chance to tell their story and actually listening before responding with a potential solution is key to turning a bad situation into a good one.
When there are no problems, listen carefully to the customer’s needs instead of making assumptions. This will help you serve them more effectively.
Practice “reflective” listening. When a customer states their problem, don’t just say “I understand.” Instead, give a summary of what they just told you so that they know you were listening and actually do understand the problem. Make sure to give them a chance to correct anything or add something they may have forgotten before moving on to a proposed solution. This will help ensure you’re both on the same page and they will feel assured you are taking the problem seriously.
2. Be Willing to See Situations from the Eyes of a Client
You’ve got your own perceptions: that of a manager—someone who is inside the company. When a customer service situation arises, try shifting your perspective. Really try to put yourself in their shoes and consider what they need. Try to understand why they may not be happy and satisfied, and consider what you’d want in that situation.
When training your employees, try role-playing to help everyone learn to empathize and see situations from someone else’s perspective. You can do this by coming up with several scenarios and have two employees work through them together. You should provide a range of scenarios since some situations will always be more clear-cut than others.
3. Always Make It About the Customer
The customer may not always be right, but they are always a top priority. Do what you need to do to help them and show them you care. Being ethical in your decisions, maintaining transparency, and treating everyone fairly will gain you and your organization respect. Sometimes, it may cost a bit of time and money to retain a customer, but it’s often worth it in the long run.
Before you get into a situation where you’ll need to make amends with a customer in order to keep their business, think about what kinds of solutions you could offer in these situations. Could you send them a discount code or a free product? Will a sincere apology suffice? If you don’t have to come up with a brand new offer on the spot, you’ll be less likely to over- or undercompensate for the inconvenience the customer has experienced.
4. Create Brand Integrity
Building trust takes time, and you’ll need to play the long game to gain brand loyalty and recognition. However, that loyalty pays off in spades—that’s what helped Hostess revive after closing its operations. As Warren Buffet once noted:
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
In our digital world, you have to think viral and always maintain your brand’s integrity.
When you’re releasing new content, always consider how it might seem from a variety of perspectives. Many brands don’t intentionally create content that’s offensive, but it can and does happen due to a failure to think about how the messaging might affect someone with a different background.
Think about what would happen if your content went viral—could it potentially be offensive? Would it highlight a disconnect from your brand values? Would it make your company appear inauthentic? This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process-your gut will be a good first indicator of something that’s not quite right with your content.
5. Always Remember to Set Your Ego Aside
Your ego has no place in customer service. Let go of always needing to be right. Will being right, or being helpful bring you more dividends in the long run? Staying humble will help you to always improve and create a better customer experience. Take responsibility and realize that if your client is unhappy, it may not be their issue—it may just need to be something you have to work on.
Transparency and integrity doesn’t just mean creating and adhering to your brand’s values—it also means being able to admit that you’re wrong, communicating with your customers, and asking for their input. After all, without your customers, you have no business. You are there to serve their needs, and the more you think about what those specific needs are from your business, the better and more successful your business will be.
Bio: Julie holds a masters in leadership and an undergraduate degree in psychology. She works as a business coach and inspires younger women to excel in leadership and executive positions. Julie is passionate about working with nonprofits, sharing ways to create more equality and diversity, and promotes women empowerment. She travels a lot, enjoys wine tasting, and relaxing in Northern California with her husband and dog.