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5 Best Resources for Customer Support Ideas and Advice

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Get better at customer service by learning from others.

A phrase we use non-stop at Groove (alongside our core values) is “always be better” — one of the very best qualities of everyone on the team, whether they’re in customer support, development or marketing.

Being better starts with learning. No matter how high you think you’re flying, there’s always more learning to be done — and that also applies to customer service.

One of my favourite articles is The Only Technique To Learn Something New by James Altucher. He’s defined a pretty brilliant 10-step structure for learning things:

  1. Love it
  2. Read it
  3. Try it
  4. Get a teacher
  5. Study the history. Study the present.
  6. Do easy projects first
  7. Study what you did
  8. You are the average of the five people around you
  9. Do it a lot
  10. Find your evil plan

There’s a lot of doing in that list. Try it. Do it. Do it again. Do it a lot. As with learning to do anything well, first-hand experience is invaluable, and you’ll remember what you’ve learned so you can do better next time. Like he says:

If you want to be a writer, or a businessman, or a programmer, you have to write a lot, start a lot of businesses, and program a lot of programs.

Makes sense. However, the other half of that list is learning from others — their experiences, mistakes, wins and losses. Luckily, most people are more than happy to share their experiences.

However, the Internet is choke full of content of all types, and it can be difficult to know where to look for quality stuff that will help you grow, develop and learn.

Here are 5 resources to check out for advice, experience and ideas to make your customer service better.

Books

If you want to do anything better, finding the best book on that topic is a great way to learn. What a better way to access to an expert’s knowledge that took them years⁠—and sometimes, a lifetime⁠—to gather and distill for you?

One thing you may notice about our recommendations is that there are very few books with “customer service” in the title.

That’s because many of those books are not very good. They’re usually either dense, hard to follow and lose their effectiveness in too much jargon, or are clearly written solely to land the author more consulting clients.

Something to keep in mind when it comes to looking for great customer service resources is that you shouldn’t limit yourself to just customer service.

Truly excellent customer service incorporates insights from multiple areas, including psychology, marketing, and productivity.

Here’s 5 books everyone working or interested in customer service should absolutely read:

The Service Culture Handbook by Jeff Toister — a great theoretical overview of customer service and psychology, which is then backed up by tons of examples from real people and companies, topped off with tips on how to apply them your own situation.

How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie — the book on dealing with other people in work and life. Carnegie’s insights on what drives people—and how to use that to make them happy and get what you want—are just as relevant now as they were when he published them in 1937.

Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein — if you want to learn how to influence your customers’ choices and help them get more value out of your product, read this — it goes deep into the psychology of how subtle behavioral “nudges” can completely change the choices people make.

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande — incredible stories about how checklists can be used to “bulletproof” a system of any size. If you’re not sure how or why you should apply checklists to your support funnel, you’ll get a lot from this book.

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk — Gary makes the case that the easiest way to grow in today’s market is to out-care everyone else. The book is packed with stories and tips on how to show your customers that you have their best interest at heart.

Want more? We’ve got an entire blog post on the best books on customer service in case you’re planning to do a deep dive. Get a cup of tea and get to it.

Blogs

Things move fast in business in general, and that includes customer service. Books are awesome, but to truly keep up with the field, you’ve got to follow the latest stuff, too. Blog posts from industry thought leaders are a great way to do that.

There are tons of blogs out there that have top notch content on customer service, though. Which ones should you be reading?

Groove’s customer support blog.

Absolutely shameless. No, but seriously — if you’re new here (‘sup!), then you should probably know that we have a dedicated customer support blog where we cover topics from hiring to communication to resources to everything else. You should check it out. We’re pretty cool.

Win The Customer by Flavio Martins — Flavio is a Huffington Post top 100 customer service professional, who contributes to the blog himself as well as has regular guest posts. The primary theme of the blog is optimizing the customer experience, with a tad bit of business strategy thrown in.

Capterra Customer Service Software Blog by Cathy Reisenwitz — good software makes customer service easier — we would know. From help desk platforms to live chat, Cathy’s blog keeps you up-to-date on tips and news for customer service technology.

Simon Ouderkirk — Simon works in customer success for Automattic, and on his spare time is also an excellent and compelling writer. He doesn’t publish very often, but when he does, they’re kick-ass posts on everything that he’s interested in — from customer support to technology to business.

Shep Hyken — Shep is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. There’s tons of good insights on his blog, but one of the coolest things about it is his weekly overview and commentary of the best customer service posts around the web.

Pro tip: a lot of writers have started using Medium as their primary place to publish content, which makes it an amazing place to find great pieces on customer service you might not be able to come across elsewhere. Check their customer service tag to get started (warning: you might get lost for hours).

Podcasts

Don’t have time to read blogs, but still want to keep up with the latest customer service topics? Try listening to some podcasts and get your knowledge while walking your dog, driving or making dinner.

Support ops — weekly podcast by Chase Clemons — a customer service pro with winning expertise. Episodes contain a bunch of immediately actionable information, including how customer support can help you improve your product.

The Human Duct Tape Show — Jeanne Bliss guides companies to earn customer-driven growth, and on her podcast, discusses realistic ideas and practices with customer experience leaders around the world.

Breaking The Ice by Jeremy Watkin and Jenny Dempsey — a refreshingly hilarious customer service podcast by two people with decades of customer service experience between them.

Focus On Customer Service by Dan Gingiss — features brands who are offering amazing customer service, and discusses topics from customer retention to acquisition to the future of CX.

Support Driven — in addition to having a community for customer service professionals, Support Driven also has a podcast with guests from all areas of customer support.

Forums and Communities

Besides learning stuff on your own, it’s also nice to have like-minded people around you can talk shop with. Luckily, there are plenty of places to go for a chat.

Support Driven — besides having an awesome podcast we mentioned earlier, Support Driven is a great community for support professionals, with conferences, a forum, and Slack chat with channels dedicated to local meetups, relevant reading material, and support in general.

Quora — and oldie but goodie. Quora’s customer service topic feed has around 22k questions posted in it, so you should be well equipped to do some reading as well as ask your own questions.

We Support — a community for community managers. Support for support teams. A weekly newsletter packed with job listings, links, events, and gifs.

Videos

The best customer service videos aren’t necessarily “how to’s”; instead, they’re incredible stories of support from companies around the world, designed to get you (or someone you know, like a boss or coworker), excited about the power of customer support.

Some of those videos inspired us so much that we put together a separate blog post featuring the five best customer service videos.

Here’s one to start you out. It’s about pickles. Pickles are more important than you think.

Learning to Be Better at Customer Support

First-hand experience and just doing things yourself is obviously priceless when it comes to learning to be better at anything, including customer service.

However, learning from the experience of others and reaching out to like-minded people and communities provides you with a whole different viewpoint than your own.

It’s finding the hidden insights about how the world really works, how people really think and act, and what really sells — provided by people who know what they’re doing.

What are your favourite resources for finding useful information and lessons about customer support? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Elen Veenpere is part of the marketing team at Groove. She’s passionate about writing and building marketing strategies based on in-depth analytics and lots of coffee.

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