There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to providing great customer service. But, the best teams operate with the same basic principles in mind.
We’ve boiled them down to a 15-point customer service checklist:
- Set clear service expectations.
- Speak from the company’s voice.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Provide more than the customer needs.
- Respond as quickly as possible.
- Put the customer first.
- Learn everything about your company’s products and services.
- Match customer needs with product solutions.
- Create and follow the chain of command.
- Help your fellow teammates.
- Remain calm during crises.
- Alleviate any point of confusion.
- Build guidelines to swiftly and fairly resolve issues.
- Don’t take it personally.
- Stay professional and polite.
Whether you’re building, managing, or working within a customer service team, use this checklist to evaluate your current practices and, perhaps, add a few more.
1. Set clear service expectations.
Be upfront with your customers to set realistic expectations and protect your own sanity. Promise realistic response times and be clear about your ability to resolve customer complaints.
You cannot solve every problem, but you can be open and honest about what you’re doing to help and when they can expect a response or resolution.
2. Speak from the company’s voice.
Every single customer interaction reflects the thoughts, emotions, and view of the company at large. Customer service agents must live and breathe the company voice.
It should come so naturally that team members can add their own personality to it without ever straying from the core.
3. Listen more than you talk.
Whether by phone, email, or social media, turn up your listening skills to understand the problem behind the problem.
Get deeper into the why to fully understand and resolve the customer’s issue completely. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck going back and forth—frustrating the customer and wasting your own time.
4. Provide more than the customer needs.
Go overboard, just do it subtly.
Give your customers more than just the answer at hand. Answer the next two or three questions they may have to really go the extra mile. Provide links to further resources. Get ahead of future problems or confusion by providing more information in a clear and helpful way.
5. Respond as quickly as possible.
Without sacrificing clarity and empathy, make an effort to respond to customers in a quick and efficient manner. Even if this just means letting them know you’ve seen their message, but need more time or information to provide a resolution. Let them know they are seen, heard, and respected first and foremost.
Answering their actual question is secondary.
6. Put the customer first.
It’s sort of the golden rule of customer service. Go beyond the superficial understanding though, to really create happy customers.
When sending any customer communications, think about what they need to know and prioritize it accordingly. Try not to get bogged down in excuses or technical details, just tell customers how it affects them and what actions they need to take.
7. Learn everything about your company’s products and services.
Leave no stone unturned when it comes to product knowledge. Customer support agents need to know your company’s products and services inside and out.
Why? Not just for problem solving, but because…
Customers don’t always use the proper name or know how to explain an issue. Support reps must be able to draw conclusions and understand the customer’s inquiry by pulling from their endless pit of knowledge.
8. Match customer needs with product solutions.
It might not be in the job description, but customer service reps can be one of your biggest sales drivers.
Encourage your team to upsell customers when they ask about a feature on a different pricing plan. Offer solutions with the business in mind to educate customers on all the capabilities of your product.
9. Create and follow the chain of command.
Hierarchies are sometimes a necessity. As a manager, define who the right person to talk to is and when to reach out them before an issue comes up.
Agents will know who to alert when something comes up, without feeling helpless or leaving a customer stranded.
10. Help your fellow teammates.
Especially in customer service, sharing is caring. Chances are, the customer you’re speaking with today might speak to your teammate tomorrow.
How do you ensure smooth transitions?
11. Remain calm during crises.
The true test of a great customer service professional lies in their ability to remain calm under pressure.
The inbox is filled with conversations claiming it’s the end of the world.
Find a way to desensitize yourself to all the mayhem. But, remain vigilant.
When an actual outage or severe service disruption occurs, you’ll need to keep your cool to help as many customers in the smartest way possible.
12. Alleviate any point of confusion.
Leave the jargon to the engineers. Customer support teams should be the liaison between hard-to-grasp technical know-how and the everyday, practical use of your products.
Always keep in mind that the customer doesn’t know nearly as much as you do, they just need an easy answer to their question.
13. Build guidelines to swiftly and fairly resolve issues.
Rules were meant to be followed. At least in customer support. Take the initiative to create guidelines for how to deal with common issues.
Make sure each agent treats each customer the same. Your team will be able to respond quicker, and with more confidence when they know the response is pre-approved.
14. Don’t take it personally.
Customers can be mean (trust me, I used to work at a dating app). Develop thick skin to protect yourself against the grueling job of customer service.
Dive deeper into the why to understand where their anger is coming from and acknowledge that it has nothing to do with you.
Also, take breaks. Be good to yourself. Breathe.
What about particularly upset customers?
15. Stay professional and polite.
Rise above the chaos with an air of diplomacy. Ultimately, your job is to answer customer questions and provide the best possible customer experience.
You’re not expected to make everyone happy. And sometimes, it pays dividends to fire bad customers.
Go into all interactions with courtesy and respect, then world-class customer service will follow.