Your customers’ most direct point of interaction with your business is customer service. And that means the results of these customer service interactions can make or break their impression of your business. Providing good customer service then becomes imperative if you want your customers to see you in a positive light at every opportunity.
After all, if your customers don’t enjoy the kind of support and service you provide, it won’t matter how great your product or service is.
In this article, we explore how to offer good customer support, but we’ll also highlight the difference between good and great customer support. In addition, we’ll look into how customer service experiences can affect your bottom line. Then we’ll talk about the factors that define good and bad customer service and how you can use them to level up the quality of support you provide every day.
What Is Great Customer Service?
Good customer service is all about making customers feel positive about the time they spend talking to you. You can achieve this through several best practices:
Promoting a warm and welcoming approach among your customer service agents
Ensuring that your customers feel like their time is valued
Equipping every member of your support team with expert knowledge to help them resolve problems in a timely fashion
But good customer service is no longer enough to stand out in your competitive niche. In fact, good should be the baseline experience that you should always strive to improve upon.
In our ECommerce Report, we surveyed nearly 6,000 eCommerce shoppers across seven countries. From there, we determined that 55% of customers will continue purchasing from a brand after a positive customer service experience. 44% would go on to tell close contacts like friends and family about the company.
Other sobering statistics in the survey illustrate the importance of getting it right the first time:
Half of all customers would stop buying from a brand after a single bad customer service experience
35% would even switch to the brand’s competitors
The biggest companies in the world are aware of how important great customer service is and have shaped their businesses’ values and mission around providing a great customer service experience, every time.
Airbnb, for instance, uses an exercise called the “11-star experience”, where it walks its teams through examples of poor guest experiences and discusses what it would take to get it to four or five stars. From there, they work their way up to 11 stars by making experiences transformative, personalized, and memorable. By doing this exercise, even if the solutions are unrealistic, Airbnb’s support teams can aim higher to achieve better service.
Why Is It Important to Optimize the Customer Service Experience?
Optimizing your customer service experience has far-reaching effects on your business.
For one, great customer service is a major part of delivering an overall positive customer experience. A great product or service with amazing features and usability won’t reach its full potential without a strong foundation of customer service to help resolve issues.
Good customer service will also have customers coming back to do business with you, increasing your retention rates and minimizing churn. Customers want to feel that they can rely on the brand that they work with. A positive customer service experience is a very concrete way of giving them that assurance.
So, what are the biggest contributing factors that go into creating a great experience for your customers?
Top Factors That Define Good Customer Service
These facts and figures make it eminently clear that great customer service is essential. The next logical question, then, is: What makes a customer service experience good? Let’s discuss the top factors that impact the way customers feel when they interact with your business.
1. Issue resolution at first contact
When a customer phones in to talk about a problem, it’s critical to resolve their concern as quickly as possible. This is especially true for mission-critical services, where any sort of downtime can be associated with significant losses for every hour that the issue persists.
In a survey of nearly 6,000 eCommerce shoppers across seven countries, we determined that 33% of respondents consider resolution in the first interaction to define good customer service. Respondents from all surveyed industries agree with this top ranking. It’s especially highlighted in the Physical Goods/Energy sector, where 38% of industry respondents ranked this factor as the most important.
First-call resolution is the gold standard of customer service interactions. To achieve a higher rate, you need to equip your staff with the tools and customer service skills they need to resolve issues. This could be developing a comprehensive knowledge base or training agents to listen actively and respond to a customer’s pain points quickly and empathetically. You could also use skill-based routing to ensure that customers are always talking to someone who can resolve their concerns.
2. Fast response
Rapid response to customer service requests will always be beneficial. It shows that you value their time, for one, as you’ll never keep them waiting for a response. Additionally, if you keep up a consistently fast response time, you gain their trust and improve their perception of your reliability—they know that if they ask for help from you, a resolution is never too far away.
In fact, 25% of our surveyed respondents agree that a fast response time is the most important indicator of good customer service. It was especially important for the Health and Home sectors and the Shipping and Transport sectors.
And it’s important to remember that a “fast” response isn’t a fixed time. It’s a moving target that you should constantly be striving to improve. A 2020 Zendesk survey showed that 65% of consumers want faster customer service than what was delivered five years ago.
3. Expert knowledge
Expert knowledge of products and services is essential to getting customers the help they need. Otherwise, you risk having your customers passed around from department to department waiting for someone who can resolve their problems.
In our survey, we found that 20% of respondents believe expert knowledge defines good customer service. This was especially true in the Physical Goods/Energy sector, with 22% of respondents rating it highly.
4. Friendly and empathetic service
It’s important to remember that at the other end of every call is a human being. That’s why it pays to treat your customers in a friendly and empathetic manner. Whether or not you resolve their problem in the first go, if they walk away from a conversation feeling good about the interaction, that can still be a win.
The numbers agree with this. Our survey showed that 18% of people believe that friendly and empathetic service is what defines good customer service. Instilling this in your staff can be challenging, but you can get everyone on board with the right tools and training.
For example, you can add coaching features to your phone system, allowing your trainers and administrators to listen in on agent calls, and provide real-time feedback to agents. You can also use call recordings to help guide training sessions, highlighting examples of customer satisfaction, while illustrating negative interactions and how they could have done better.
5. Knowledge of customer history
Having to explain your history to a new customer service agent every time you contact a business can be annoying. It can also be a significant time-waster if you regularly contact a company.
Knowledge of your customers’ past interactions and problems in every call won’t just reduce friction. It also gives valuable context to the problem and may help provide insight. One way to get this knowledge with every call is to integrate CRM with your phone system, which will automatically pull up a customer’s complete account history.
The Benefits of Providing Excellent Customer Service
So what do businesses get out of providing great customer service? Here are three concrete benefits that will greatly impact your bottom line.
1. Great customer service improves customer retention
As our ECommerce report suggests, if you provide your customers with great customer service, they’re likely to come back and develop into loyal patrons. This increases your customer retention, which has significant benefits.
A study conducted by Bain and Company and the Harvard Business Review illustrates that improving customer retention by as little as 5% can increase profits by anywhere between 25% and 95%.
On top of that, the book Marketing Metrics states that you only have a 5% to 20% chance of selling to a new lead, whereas you have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to a customer who has already done business with you.
2. Customers who are happy with your service will spend more
Our ECommerce report showed that customers would actually pay 16% more to do business with a company that provides good customer service.
Additionally, tying in with the advantages of increased customer retention, existing customers spend as much as 17% more than new customers do.
3. Customers recommend companies with good service
Improving customer satisfaction won’t just affect your existing customers; it can also attract new ones, thanks to referrals and positive feedback from your happy customers.
Our 2021 ECommerce Report found that 44% of consumers who are happy with their customer service experience are going to recommend a company to their family and peers. 22% will share their positive feedback on social media.
No business can afford to ignore the power of word of mouth. Nielsen reports that 92% of people will trust recommendations from friends and family over any other form of advertising, making it a powerful (and free) form of marketing.
The Risks of Not Providing Good Customer Service
We could certainly go on all day about why good customer service is essential. But what do you risk by not providing it?
To illustrate, let’s first take a look at what makes for a bad customer service experience. In our survey, we determined what customers found most frustrating in customer service interactions:
Long wait times
Being transferred to other departments or agents, resulting in multiple interactions
Navigating automated menus
Repeating information that they already provided or should be known
Scripted responses that are not tailored to their needs
Many of these frustrations make customers feel like their time has been wasted. Time spent on hold, being transferred, repeating themselves, getting canned answers—all these can be optimized with the right routing features, tools, and training.
What happens when your customers have had enough of this? Here’s what your customers might do if you don’t provide an excellent customer service experience:
1. Stop buying from the brand
One outcome for a customer who encounters bad customer service is that they’ll simply stop doing business with you. As our survey demonstrated, 50% of customers will switch after a single bad experience. That means you don’t many opportunities to redeem yourself after a bad interaction!
2. Switch to a competitor
An equally bad outcome is for your customer to switch to doing business with your competition. If your competitors offer significantly better customer service, it may be sufficient to make your customers switch (even if your product is superior!).
In Plecto’s Customer Service Playbook, nine different ways to reduce customer churn are identified, with providing great customer service a recurring theme throughout almost all of these.
3. Share experience with close contacts
We previously discussed the results of the Nielsen study about word-of-mouth recommendations in the context of positive feedback. But this works both ways.
46% of consumers will go out of their way to tell friends and family not to do business with a company with which they had a negative customer service interaction. You can be sure that this will impact how their close contacts will view your business.
4. Post negative reviews online
ReviewTrackers reports that 94% of consumers have avoided businesses because of negative reviews. On top of that, 80% of consumers also said that they trust 4-, 4.5-, and 5-star ratings the most—leaving anything lower than that to be up for scrutiny.
If your users post bad reviews of your business because of a negative customer service interaction, you risk losing even more customers.
5. Share experience on social media
Aside from sharing negative feedback with friends and family, 33% of consumers will post about bad customer service experiences on social media. Oftentimes, all it takes is one viral post to discredit an entire company’s customer experience. It can also have a major impact on its bottom line.
Elevating Support Experiences with Cutting-Edge Technology
We’ve hopefully made it clear by now that delivering good customer service is key to doing better business as a whole.
Training your team with the right customer service skills will go a long way in helping you achieve a high standard of customer service. But that’s only one part of the equation. You also need to give them the right tools to support them in providing truly great customer service.
With Aircall, you get everything you need to elevate your customer service delivery to new heights. Our cloud phone system provides a wide array of features that are all targeted toward improving every customer interaction. Our skill-based routing features match each customer with a team member who is best-equipped to deal with their requirements, while call whispering helps your team coach each other in providing quality customer service experiences.
We also provide extensive analytics for important data like wait time and missed call rate. This allows you to get a bird’s-eye view of your customer service delivery and set targets for improvement. We even integrate with major CRM platforms, which means agents immediately get access to customer information.
Ready to deliver great customer service experiences every time? Schedule a demo with our team to learn more.
Published on January 2, 2024.