What does it take to bring your customer service to the next level? There’s no single, all-encompassing answer. Companies that provide genuinely exceptional customer service focus on their customers in every action, decision, and moment of connection. Take it from one of our customers—Barbara Davis, owner of BADDogs Inc: “If we demonstrate concern and care for our clients, they do notice and appreciate us.”
At Ruby, we know perfecting the customer’s experience is all about the little things—smiling when we pick up the phone, pronouncing someone’s name correctly, making a person’s day with a kind word or gesture. With that in mind, here are 101 small ways your business can improve experiences for the people you serve.
1. Make sure your business is easy to find and contact.
2. Set the right expectations. Be honest about what you can and can’t do for customers.
3. Ensure you’re providing every customer with service that matches their particular need.
4. Help your customers learn how to make the most of the products and services you offer.
5. Offer customer service in more than one language.
6. Conduct a customer service audit to identify your gaps and opportunities.
7. Minimize customer service wait times.
8. Have a real person ready to answer the phone.
9. Answer calls in fewer than four rings (ideally within one ring).
10. Return voicemails.
11. Ensure the person who picks up the phone is friendly, professional, and trained to delight callers.
12. Ensure calls are screened and transferred effectively, so callers always speak to the right people.
13. Greet your callers graciously.
14. Prioritize creating great first impressions.
15. Mind your manners—always say “please” and “thank you.”
16. Avoid saying “I don’t know,” and other conversational dead ends.
17. Keep calm and stay positive during customer conversations.
18. Let your customers talk. Don’t feel the need to control every conversation. Keep in mind that sometimes, the other person simply wants to feel heard.
19. Be flexible. Avoid unnecessary arguments about minor details. You don’t necessarily have to give customers everything they want, but you’ll improve your customer service by working to meet them more than halfway.
20. Use automated tools that facilitate human connection rather than attempt to replace it. For example, avoid overusing interactive voice response (IVR) systems and bots.
21. Deliver a multichannel—or better yet, omnichannel—customer experience.
22. Have a website.
24. Optimize your website for mobile devices.
25. List frequently-asked questions (FAQs) on your website.
26. Add live chat to your website.
27. Respond to live chat users the same way you respond to callers: quickly, helpfully, and politely.
28. Be active on social media.
29. Respond to all social media messages within 24 hours.
30. Offer customer service through email.
31. Respond to all customer emails within 24 hours.
32. Remain approachable and warm in your written communication.
33. Write articles that educate your customers about your products and services.
34. Create a welcoming, safe environment with comfortable seating for your in-person visitors.
35. Record how-to videos that educate your customers.
36. Ensure a front office attendant, customer associate, or team of employees is ready to serve visitors.
37. Offer visitors refreshments such as water, tea, coffee, and light snacks (if the nature of your business allows for it).
38. Offer games and fun activities for children and families, if possible.
39. Consider making your business location pet-friendly.
40. Make sure there’s adequate parking near your business.
41. Ensure customer service staff have full knowledge of your products and services.
42. Train customer service staff to prioritize meeting customers’ needs rather than immediately upselling or cross-selling them.
43. Respect your customers’ boundaries. Don’t pressure them into conversations or physical greetings such as handshakes or hugs.
44. Refer to customers by their preferred names and pronouns.
45. Make sure customers’ names are pronounced correctly. When it’s unclear, it’s best to ask the customer politely—this goes for spelling it correctly too.
46. Personalize customer interactions by keeping track of their likes, dislikes, history with your business, and important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries.
47. Have employees practice active listening.
48. Train employees to repeat information back to customers to ensure everyone is on the same page.
49. Empower your employees to solve customers’ problems and go the extra mile on their own without always asking for permission or approval.
50. Honor your employees’ boundaries. For example, employees who deal directly with customers should be well-trained in handling escalations but should not be expected to deal with disrespectful behavior.
51. Be sensitive to the physical and mental health needs of your customer service team members. Give them breaks, encouragement, and support, ensuring they have access to the proper employee assistance resources.
52. Ensure your customer service team members understand what’s expected of them, feel comfortable with their job responsibilities, and know what it takes to succeed in their roles.
53. Encourage your employees to be themselves and feel comfortable engaging personally and humorously with your customers.
54. Provide a way for customers to address their own needs and concerns through self-service—e.g., an online help center.
55. Make it easy for customers to schedule appointments.
56. Send reminders for appointments.
57. Create one or more ideal customer profiles to guide your sales, marketing, and customer service efforts.
58. Map out your customer journey.
59. Keep track of all interactions with customers and prospects.
60. Identify and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) in your customer service, such as your customer satisfaction (CSAT) score, net promoter score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), churn rate, retention rate, response time, and resolution time.
61. Track your customer service results through objective data and use the data to improve performance over time.
62. Understand your company’s qualitative customer service performance, too. For example, listen to your customer service team’s interactions with callers.
63. Analyze and optimize your sales and marketing funnel.
64. Create marketing content that informs and uplifts your customers.
65. Appoint a customer ambassador or advocate committee to bring the customer’s voice to the table and build bridges between your company and the people you serve.
66. Show your customers they matter by highlighting their stories in your marketing materials. (Make sure to always ask permission before sharing customer feedback or spotlighting one of your customers on a public platform.)
67. Consider whether you’ll be more effective in serving customers with a sales funnel or a marketing flywheel? In other words, a marketing wheel focuses on delighting the customer throughout each phase of their buying experience and after their purchase. Your goal is to inspire your customers to share their experiences and bring more business your way.
68. Keep an eye on your competitors and look for opportunities to outperform them or reach customers they’re overlooking.
69. Look for other businesses or organizations to partner with to expand your offerings and elevate your customers’ experiences.
70. Consider ways your business can more easily work with any tools services your customers already use.
71. Ensure your customers know that their experiences matter and that you’re eager to improve those experiences.
72. Provide opportunities for feedback throughout your customer journey.
73. Send surveys about satisfaction and future needs—help them feel heard.
74. Gather, listen to, and grow from customer feedback.
75. Follow up with dissatisfied customers and ask them how you could have improved their experiences.
76. Read and respond to online reviews of your business—positive and negative.
77. Own your mistakes, apologize, and take accountability.
78. Implement changes through tangible, concrete actions.
79. Create a positive and inclusive company culture.
80. Ensure your workforce is diverse and reflects the community or communities you serve.
81. Have a plan in place to communicate with your customers effectively during an outage, natural disaster, or other emergencies.
82. Invest in creating a mission, vision, and set of values.
83. Embody your values in every customer interaction. You’ve put those values on your walls and employee materials, so live and breathe them!
84. Make space for customer and employee perspectives and voices that may not be “in the room.”
85. Be an ally to your customers. Remember: their success is your success.
86. Anticipate your customers’ needs and give them what they don’t know they want or aren’t sure how to ask for.
87. Wow your customers. Go the extra distance to meet their needs and connect with them on a meaningful, person-to-person level.
88. Offer a rewards program or loyalty program.
89. Host giveaways or contests.
90. Send small gifts to your customers on special occasions—or just because.
91. Mail out handwritten thank-you cards to your customers.
92. Host live business Q&A sessions in-person or online.
93. Incentivize your customers to refer their friends and family your way.
94. Prioritize your employees’ well-being. Happy employees make for happy customers.
95. Get active in your customers’ communities and give back.
96. Build your network. Create connections and mutually beneficial relationships in your community.
97. When you can’t serve a particular customer or prospect, connect them with a business that can meet their needs.
98. Make efforts to continually learn about customer service. For example, read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and attend professional development courses.
99. Pay attention to your own experiences as a customer. Consider what makes an experience positive for you and implement similar measures in your business.
100. Take time now and then to engage in customer service conversations personally. Keep your customer service skills sharp, no matter how big your company gets or if your role evolves. A CEO should practice answering the customer’s questions sometimes, too!
101. Smile when you respond to customer inquiries, even on the phone—the other person can hear it!
And there you have it—101 ways to improve your customers’ experiences!
Ready to wow your customers, but not sure where to begin? Start by taking a look at where your customer service stands right now with this checklist.
Note: This is a sponsored post with an affiliate link.
About the sponsor:
Over 13,000 businesses across the United States trust Ruby to connect with their customers and clients online and over the phone. Supported by proprietary technology, Ruby’s US-based, live virtual receptionists and chat specialists create meaningful human connections that build loyalty and win new business 24/7, 365 days a year. Ruby has helped companies of all kinds grow since 2003, gaining national acclaim, including recognition as Fortune magazine Best Small Company to Work for in the U.S. For more information: www.ruby.com