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Customer Service Quality: Definition, Examples & Tips

Quality assurance13 MIN READDec 1, 2023

Support Leaders Talk: How To Define Customer Service Quality

Customer service quality is the focal point for all ambitious companies. Every third customer will abandon the brand they love after a single negative support interaction, leaving little room for mistakes and lousy support.

Companies that take customer service seriously also know that quality support interactions come with great rewards — improved customer retention, lower churn, and increased upsells. Sounds good, right

In case you’re wondering:

  • How to define customer service quality?
  • What is high-quality service?
  • What are some examples of quality customer service?
  • How do you deliver quality service?

Well, wonder no more.

How to define customer service quality?

Customer service quality shows how well your support team meets customer expectations, industry standards, and service goals.

When the quality of support is excellent, it can increase your revenue and customer retention. On the flip side, if customers have bad experiences with your customer service, they’re likely to leave. So, how well your customer service team handles support requests matters for your business!

Klaus crossing things off a quality assurance checklist.

What is high-quality support?

Below you’ll find characteristics of good customer service, according to support leaders. Notice how all five companies define support quality through different perspectives — ultimately, there is no right or wrong in internal quality standards. Your team’s criteria depend on your company and your customer support goals.

High-quality support is easy to get

When trying to define good customer service, focusing on how easy it is for customers to find answers to their questions (either thanks to self-service or support agents) is a common practice.

Quality customer-facing interactions provide an easy, efficient way for customers to find what they need while feeling engaged and understood.
Akshobhya Mann
Akshobhya Mann
Director Program Management at Microsoft

Many support teams measure their ‘ease of use’ with the Customer Effort Score (CES). It’s a customer service metric focusing specifically on how difficult it was for customers to find the help they needed. Customers rate their experience on the scale of “very difficult” to “very easy” and teams get an average score of customer effort.

CES Customer Effort Score.

Defining support quality through ease of use makes the most sense for companies aiming to improve their customer loyalty, as CES often correlates with it. The easier you can make the experience for your customers, the more likely they are to stick around.

High-quality customer service is quick

Most customer support teams measure their performance in different time-related metrics. Depending on the company and its customer service goals, responding quickly to customer inquiries can be the most important quality issue to nail.

My definition for quality customer service interaction is, first and foremost, a quick response.
Nir Ben-Ari
Nir Ben-Ari
Director, Customer Support at Vimeo

First Response Time (FRT) and Average Handle Time (AHT) are the most popular metrics to track when keeping an eye on the minutes and hours your customers have to wait for help when contacting your support team. A timely first response that reassures customers that you are working on their question and a quick resolution to their problem are the keys to success in this category.

First Response Time explained.

Getting a fast answer might not drive customer satisfaction on its own, but it sure has the power to kill your Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) if you fail to deliver speedy responses. Acceptable response times are usually seen as an enabler of high customer satisfaction scores.

High-quality support drives product engagement

More and more companies are starting to look beyond simply giving answers to customers’ questions and instead, use support interactions as guidance to increase product engagement. Ultimately, this has a paw-sitive impact on your customer loyalty and retaining existing customers.

There are certain techniques that help support teams drive product engagement in their customer interactions. Following the “Yes, and…” principle is the easiest way customer service agents can introduce relevant underused features and product updates to drive further product adoption.

Enhanced product engagement will not just do wonders for your existing customers’ retention rates but also pay off with your trial users.

High-quality customer service drives business results

Great customer service isn’t always measured with direct customer service metrics. There are numerous companies that define their support quality through the success of their customers’ business results.

I define the quality of interactions as ‘in what measurable way did the time/activity/conversation/etc. we had as part of that interaction directly impact the customer’s business goal and/or KPI that’s driving a particular business objective.’ In other words, did the interaction(s) directly drive their business forward?
Sirous Wadia
Sirous Wadia
Practice Director, Customer Success at K1 Investment Management

Though it might be difficult to track your customers’ success in numbers, you can use qualitative approaches to understand how they’re doing. Customer feedback and customer service quality assurance will give insight into how your customer service team is helping your customers succeed.

Luckily, your efforts to boost customers’ business results will reward your company too. 84% of companies that focus on providing excellent customer experience say that improved customer service increases company’s revenue.

High-quality customer service is customer-centric

We also see more and more companies using a customer-centric approach as an umbrella strategy. This reflects all the different quality criteria, based on what matters most to the customer.

It may sound obvious, but if you truly are customer-centric, all the actions that you will put in place to serve your customers will have a strong impact on your communications.
Marion Lemoine
Marion Lemoine
Senior Customer Success Manager & Team Lead at HubSpot

A customer-centric approach allows you to define what support quality means in a specific customer’s context. That’s especially useful for companies whose users come with very different needs and expectations.

For example, quick solutions could be paramount for time-sensitive services, while some customers need more dedicated time and resources to fulfill their expectations. Narrowing your support down to specific communication patterns could harm the quality of your customer service.

Klaus creates a puzzle saying 'big picture'

High-quality customer service is… What, exactly?

All support leaders agree that customer service quality is an essential part of successful businesses. However, depending on the company and its customer service goals, the definitions of what support quality means vary from company to company.

I would define quality in the following points: technical accuracy, appropriate style and tone of voice, customer education, and correct workflow.
Anastasia Tatarinoff
Anastasia Tatarinoff
Head of Customer Care at Skroutz

There’s no “one size fits all” solution in customer service quality. There are companies that see the most value in investing in easy-to-use self-help while others focus on driving product engagement and business results through support interactions. It’s important to know what works best for your business and focus your efforts there.

What are 3 examples of quality customer service?

Even though the definition of quality customer service and characteristics of good customer service vary from one company to the next, there are at least a few examples of high-quality support:

Excellent customer service example no. 1

I had a pair of jeans from & Other Stories, wore them once, and they ripped. I sent an email describing the issue. And then the next day, a customer service rep called me to say sorry and that it was not the type of quality they stand for. They sent me a return label and offered a refund. I was shocked and totally delighted that it was so easy. I just didn’t expect it.
Stephanie Robilliard
Stephanie Robilliard
Senior Project Manager - Service Projects at Tesla

Going the extra mile in customer support can really improve customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty. To exceed expectations, it’s not just about fixing the problem — it’s about creating a positive and memorable experience. Encourage your customer service team to come up with smart solutions that pleasantly surprise customers.

If you can create those delightful moments, especially when things go wrong, you’ll stand out from your competitors. Keep in mind that customers remember excellent customer service and also really bad experiences. If your support is just okay and predictable, customers might stop coming back.

Even small gestures can make a big difference in leaving a positive impression. Speaking of…

Great customer service example no. 2

I’ve consistently had the best customer service experience ever with Coolblue’s team calling me out of the blue to make sure that my issue was resolved. Every customer experience that I’ve had with them has been top-notch.
Ines van Dijk
Ines van Dijk
Quality in Support

High-quality, proactive support means being ready for what customers might need and solving problems before they happen. It’s like being a step ahead, making sure customers have a smooth experience with your company.

Checking in with customers after an interaction helps build stronger relationships, get important feedback, and find chances to make things better.

Outstanding customer service example no. 3

I was using a clothing subscription service, where you have to ship back the items at the end of the month. And for some reason, I put a personal item in the box and shipped it back without realizing it at first. When I did, I contacted them immediately and was anxious since I didn’t know if they were going to be able to do anything about it. Plus, it was totally my fault…

Eventually, it took a very long time for them to get back to me, but the customer service 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.

Arielle Yoder
Arielle Yoder
Quality Assurance Specialist at Saks

Even though being fast and efficient is crucial, what really leaves a lasting impression on customers is the quality of support they receive.

Responding quickly doesn’t guarantee that the customer’s problem was fixed properly or that they’re happy with the help. In fact, if the initial response is hurried or incomplete because of a focus on speed, it could end up making the customer’s experience worse.

Speed might make customers temporarily happy, but it’s the quality of support that truly matters in the end.

Klaus praising everyone for their stellar job.

Do YOU deliver quality service?

Most companies track at least some customer service metrics to understand how they are performing. However, if you’re looking strictly at support quality, you need to combine the following perspectives and metrics:

  • External evaluations (collected in customer surveys like CSAT, NPS, or CES) reflect your customers’ attitudes towards your product, support, and company in general.
  • Internal evaluations (i.e. customer service quality assurance measured with IQS) rate your agents’ interactions based on your internal quality criteria.

It’s important to measure your support quality from both of these perspectives because:

  • Customers don’t know your quality standards and often use feedback surveys to express their attitudes towards other parts of the business, such as, for example, the product and its (missing) features.
  • Analyzing your support interactions without taking into account how your customers feel might mislead you. Customer surveys help you stay on track toward your end goal: making customers happy.

You can only improve what you measure. So, if you analyze your agents’ interactions and give feedback to them, your support team will become better at what they do and your support quality will improve.

Signs That You’re Losing Control Over Customer Service

Taking the following steps towards a quality assurance program and systematically reviewing your customer service quality will create a positive feedback loop:

  1. Review a random sample of your support interactions (or let QA software identify and score the most relevant conversations automatically).
  2. Evaluate support conversations based on your internal quality standards — or check AutoQA scores if applicable.
  3. Give feedback to help improve the customer support team’s performance during coaching sessions.
  4. Repeat the process consistently.

The truth is, that customer service quality assurance gets much easier with Zendesk QA (formerly Klaus).

Originally published in February 2020; last updated in December 2023.

Written by

Merit Valdsalu
Merit is the content writer at Klaus - though most of her texts have probably been ghostwritten by her rescue cat Oskar.

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