How to provide excellent customer service?
Truly understanding your customers, providing them with empathetic responses, and offering premium support are vital for every business. Let’s take a look at a few excellent customer service examples and how they can inspire your customer service team.
1. Don’t shy away from showing empathy
Why bother? Someone who can communicate their understanding of how the person on the other side of the conversation feels can ultimately build long-lasting relationships. Not only does it keep customers coming back — it also builds trust in your brand.
Customer service example from Chewy
The online pet supply provider Chewy does it better than most. The company has policies and practices in place that leave many of its customers in complete disbelief when they’re experiencing difficult times.
Here’s just one of the good customer service examples from Chewy that proves it. After losing her beloved dog Zoe, Sheree Flanagan’s cat Thor of fifteen years also passed away just days later. “Losing Zoe was terrible,” Sheree explained, “But when Thor died that was crushing.”
In a tearful state after losing her furry best friends, Flanagan reached out to Chewy to cancel her pet’s automatically shipped pet food subscription. Sheree opened a live chat with Ashley, a customer service representative. All that Flanagan had hoped to accomplish was to return the unused and opened portion of her pet food.
Instead, Sheree found a compassionate person who seemed to be truly touched by her tales of the loss of her beloved pets.
In part, Ashley’s closing comments included this touching statement:
Key takeaway? Empathy is the cat’s cream for customer support agents.
When customers contact you for help, they may be feeling frustrated, confused, or dissatisfied. By acknowledging and validating these emotions, customer service teams can show empathy and provide great customer service.
Chewy’s customer care and compassion clearly resonate with their clients, but there are many other excellent customer service examples to get you inspired.
2. Aim to exceed expectations
Even though empathy is key, going above and beyond in customer support can make a world of difference when it comes to improving satisfaction and loyalty.
But, exceeding expectations means providing support that not only resolves the issue but also leaves a lasting, positive impression. Encourage your customer support reps to offer clever solutions that your customers just don’t expect.
If you can create those delightful moments, even (or especially) when something goes wrong, you can truly stand out from your competitors. Remember that customers only remember excellent customer service examples — as well as very bad customer service stories. If your support is average and predictable, your customers might eventually stop coming back.
Even the little things can make a big difference when it comes to leaving a paw-sitive impression. This brings us to the next point…
3. When in doubt, personalize
Similarly to empathy, personalization is all about delivering a tailored customer service experience that makes the other person feel valued and understood.
One way to achieve it is by addressing customers by their names and referencing details from past interactions. This creates a more human connection and shows that you’re attentive to their individual needs and history with your company.
Customer service example from LEGO
Take LEGO, as a great customer service example. Like most boys his age, seven-year-old Luka loves his toys, especially the LEGO Ninjago Ultra Sonic Raider set he bought with his Christmas money.
Not long after his purchase and against his father’s advice, he took some characters from the set on a trip to the store. One of the pieces, Jay ZX, was MIA after the outing as the kid believed it fell out of his pocket.
His dad noted that Luka had learned a valuable lesson about responsibility and listening to his parents, but he still helped him send a letter to the toymaker. The boy lamented his tale to LEGO’s customer service staff and promised if they were willing to replace Jay ZX he would take better care of the character in the future.
Not only did he receive the replacement he requested, but the toy also came with this a-meow-zing note and an unexpected bonus:
The note was signed by Richard who reminded the young man to always listen to his father. Richard also sent the lad an extra “bad guy” for Jay to fight as a bonus. Kudos to LEGO for not only reinforcing its brand message through the voices of its characters but also supporting the parent’s role in teaching this boy multiple life lessons.
A little (purr-sonalized) note comes a long way. In fact, 89% of support leaders say that personalized support is a key differentiator. It leads to being twice more likely to report an increase in retention, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction.
4. Build a connection with your customer
Building connections with customers is a fundamental aspect of delivering excellent customer service. Beyond resolving issues and providing solutions, your team has to understand the importance of forming relationships with customers.
Such connections go beyond transactional interactions, and there’s a reason behind it. You’re more likely to remember an agent that goes above and beyond to make the customer service experience pleasant, versus the one that doesn’t say a word (or sounds like a robot). Case in point:
Customer service example from Target
Audrey’s post went on to get multiple shares and thousands of likes making it a viral sensation. This customer service story was soon picked up by the media, receiving even more attention and recognition.
5. Offer proactive customer service
Proactive support is all about anticipating customer needs and addressing potential issues even before they arise. In essence, it’s about staying one step ahead of your customers and making their journey with your company as smooth as possible.
There are at least a few ways to offer proactive service:
- Monitoring customer behavior to identify trends or potential issues that customers may face and address them proactively. For example, if you notice that a customer is struggling with your products or services, reach out with helpful resources, tutorials, or personalized assistance to help them overcome the challenges.
- Regularly updating and improving your self-service resources, such as knowledge bases, FAQs, and tutorial videos. This ensures that customers always have access to the most up-to-date and relevant information, empowering them to resolve issues independently.
- Reaching out before your customers do. In case of product updates, maintenance, or potential service disruptions, make sure your agents inform your customers and provide clear instructions on what to do.
- Following up on customer support interactions shows that your business genuinely cares about the customer experience and is committed to ensuring their satisfaction even after the initial interaction. If possible, encourage your team to reach out just to check in on customers.
One way to follow up on customer support interactions is by sending personalized emails or messages to customers after their issue has been resolved. Take Coolblue, as a good customer service example.
By following up, you can strengthen customer relationships, gather valuable customer feedback, and identify opportunities for improvement.
Apart from checking in with individual customers, consider conducting regular surveys to gather feedback on the overall customer experience. This can help you measure customer satisfaction, evaluate support trends, and identify areas for improvement.
6. Go omnichannel
Omnichannel support means offering consistent, good customer service across multiple channels. This includes email, phone, live chat, social media, and even in-person support.
Excellent customer service cannot just exist on one platform. With omnichannel support, customer service interactions may start on one channel and fluidly move to another without having to start from scratch.
By providing omnichannel support, you can cater to the diverse preferences and needs of your customers, ensuring that they always feel heard and supported. In turn, this leads to increased satisfaction, customer loyalty, and long-term success for your business.
However, one of the key aspects of providing omnichannel support is ensuring that your support team has access to a unified system that tracks customer interactions across all channels. This allows your agents to have a comprehensive view of the customer’s interaction, regardless of the channel.
7. Prioritize quality over speed
Eventually, it took a very long time for them to get back to me, but the team did everything in their power to get me my shoes back. I didn’t even care that I had to wait over 24 hours for a response, I felt I was in good hands.
Would it have been nice to have a faster response? Sure, nobody likes waiting. But it was such a great customer service interaction and I had complete faith that my shoes are going to get back to me. And they totally did. It was lovely.
A fast response time doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer’s issue was resolved appropriately or that the customer was satisfied with their experience. In fact, if the initial response is rushed or incomplete due to a focus on speed, it can actually lead to a worse customer experience down the line.
Speed alone may provide temporary satisfaction, but it is the quality of the support that ultimately counts.
While on the subject: If you’re concerned about your support quality, conversation reviews are the most efficient means of improving it.
Ready to deliver exceptional customer service?
More than three-quarters of business leaders know that good customer service can make a company more resilient during economic downturns. Are you among them?
If you’re serious about excellent support, the above-mentioned customer service tips should help you get there.
Remember: Your customers have more choices than ever before. How you treat them is a huge differentiating factor and it can turn indifferent shoppers into raving fans.
Want more customer service tips and stories? Check out our series Quality Conversations with Klaus. The series features paw-sitive customer service examples, as well as actionable takeaways you can use to improve your support quality.
Originally published in January 2021; last updated in May 2023.