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Article 19 min read

11 ways to deliver good customer service: Principles + tips

Good customer service is critical for retaining and acquiring customers. Learn how to meet and exceed customer expectations in our guide.

Por Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Última actualización el May 6, 2024

What is good customer service?

Good customer service centers on forging genuine human connections. Great customer service marries the efficiency of artificial intelligence (AI) with the empathy of human agents, ensuring swift, seamless, and tailored support. Companies that deliver excellent customer service understand that the customer is always human, harnessing intelligent technology to craft experiences with a personal touch.

Think back on a memorable customer service experience. Maybe it was the barista who knew your name and just how you liked your latte. Or, perhaps it was that time you called customer support, and the agent sympathized with you and went out of their way to fix the issue.

Good customer service can change customers’ perceptions of a company. It can make customers feel appreciated, help you develop relationships with them, and facilitate business growth. In this guide, we cover 11 ways to deliver excellent customer service and create an outstanding customer experience (CX).

More in this guide:

How important is good customer service?

Good customer service is crucial because it directly impacts customer loyalty and profitability.

According to Zendesk benchmark data, 81 percent of consumers say the quick and accurate resolution of issues or complaints heavily influences their decision to purchase. Additionally, over 40 percent of CX leaders indicate that the customer experience has an extremely high impact on business growth and customer loyalty.

So, if you want to improve your customer experience, boost customer satisfaction (CSAT), hit your customer service objectives, and more, prioritize delivering exceptional customer service.

Principles of good customer service

Customer service isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Your customers’ profiles and unique needs should influence how you treat them, the channels you communicate with them on, and more. That said, there are a few universal principles and customer needs you should consider no matter your strategy:

  • Friendliness: This is the most basic customer need, and it’s associated with things like courtesy and politeness.
  • Empathy: Customer empathy is an easy way to show that you understand and appreciate their needs and circumstances.
  • Fairness: Individuals must feel like they’re getting adequate attention and fair and reasonable answers.
  • Control: Consumers want to feel like they influence the outcome of their situation.
  • Alternatives: Your clients want choice and flexibility from customer service—they want to know you have various options available to satisfy them.
  • Information: Buyers want to know about products and services in a pertinent and time-sensitive manner—too much information and selling can be off-putting.
  • Time: Customers’ time is valuable, and organizations must treat it as such. Put customer context at agents’ fingertips so customers don’t have to wait on hold while the agent looks up the details, for example.

If you prioritize these principles, you’ll be well on your way to delivering great customer service.

11 ways to deliver great customer service

Bad customer service can sink a business—but for many companies, good customer service just isn’t enough. Here are 11 customer service tips to take your service from good to truly excellent.

A bulleted list details top customer service tips.

1. Leverage AI

AI is emerging as a non-negotiable for effective customer service. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024, 70 percent of CX leaders plan to integrate generative AI into many customer touchpoints within the next two years. Additionally, 3 in 4 customers who have experienced generative AI say the technology will change the way they interact with companies in the near future.

Delivering great customer service is hard—you need to balance agent performance, consumer interactions, and the demands of your business. By blending AI with your customer service—also known as an intelligent customer experience (ICX)—you can drastically enhance your CX. For example, AI agents (otherwise known as chatbots) deliver immediate, 24/7 responses to customers. When a human support rep is needed, bots can arm the agent with key customer insights to resolve requests more efficiently.

2. Meet your customers where they are

Customers want to connect with you on the same channels they use daily. According to our CX Trends Report, 30 percent of consumers rank the phone as the top preferred channel for complex and nuanced problems, followed by email (14 percent) and in-person (13 percent). As you can see, it’s a mixed bag, meaning you should have a presence in multiple mediums.

Embrace an omnichannel approach to customer service—one that creates connected and consistent customer interactions across all touchpoints, from online customer service to phone calls. This allows you to meet your customers where they are and deliver personalized customer service, no matter the software.

3. Have empathy

Showing empathy is one of the most important customer service skills businesses must master. This means engaging in active listening and fully understanding your customers and their problems—not seeing them as an annoyance to handle but as the hero of your story.

Empathy plays a crucial role in building customer relationships and de-escalating tense situations. Customer service agents need empathy and a good customer service voice to collaborate with customers and find quality solutions to their problems. Empathy is becoming even more important in the age of AI customer service. If your organization embraces this technology, use tools trained on real customer interactions and prioritize human needs, like Zendesk AI.

4. Put customers at the center of your decision-making

Organizations need to embrace customer orientation to elevate their customer service. This means putting customers at the center of organizational decision-making rather than focusing purely on products or profits. An example of this could be collecting customer feedback in every channel and sharing that information across the company to help guide business decisions. When organizations use their customer as their North Star, they can effortlessly deliver an outstanding CX.

5. Be proactive

Proactive customer service is what happens when a business takes the initiative to help a customer before the customer contacts them for help. It means anticipating their needs to avoid issues from sprouting and trying to resolve problems at the first sign of trouble if necessary.

There are big benefits to delivering proactive customer service:

  • You can often head off problems before they start. Instead of waiting for a customer complaint, you’re doing something to help them now. That saves your customer service team time, and it keeps your customer satisfied.
  • If you can use customer data to learn about their preferences, an agent can recommend products in real time. That kind of 1:1 service can lead to higher customer loyalty and more upsell opportunities.

Waiting to solve issues after customers complain is like watering your plants once they’ve started to turn brown. Cultivate a healthy relationship by being proactive instead.

6. Personalize the experience

Most customers today expect personalization when interacting with a business. They want a company to know who they are, what they’ve purchased in the past, and their preferences. They also expect you to remember all this information—they don’t want to have to repeat themselves.

And with the help of AI, you can meet customer expectations and offer personalized service whenever possible. This can include AI arming your support reps with key customer details to better tailor requests or an AI agent offering relevant product suggestions based on a customer’s past purchase in a support conversation. Our CX Trends Report 2024 revealed that 70 percent of CX leaders believe bots are becoming skilled architects of highly personalized customer journeys.

Create a winning customer service philosophy

While you must know how to deliver excellent customer service, you also need a blueprint for providing consistent service. Download our customer service philosophy template to build one that guides your support team.

7. Provide quick customer service

Exceeding customer expectations means keeping pace with customers and providing quick service and speedy first reply times (FRT). That might entail creating an automated response notifying the customer you received their query and are working on their problem. It could also mean quickly calling back a customer who left a message on your customer service line.

Here are other ways you can deliver fast customer service:

  • Invest in agent training: Give your help desk a customer service training guide that sets them up for success. They should know your products well, have access to a robust knowledge base, and be able to handle challenging customer issues.
  • Improve processes: Getting tickets to the right teams as quickly as possible is critical. One way to do this is by creating a “customer service triage” team to manage each ticket that comes in, especially if you receive a lot of complex questions.
  • Get on the phone: If an agent keeps going back and forth with a customer or if there are long delays between replies, find a time to call the customer. Sometimes, this is the quickest way to reach a resolution.

Alternatively, you could embrace our first tip and leverage AI. According to Zendesk benchmark data, AI-driven insights and recommendations can accelerate customer resolutions by 300 percent.

8. Help customers help themselves

Customers don’t always want to ask someone for help; sometimes, excellent customer service means letting people help themselves. You can invest in customer self-service methods like knowledge bases, FAQ pages, or community forums. This can lead to faster customer resolutions while also taking pressure off your support team.

Consider these tips to automate and streamline self-service:

  • Use a chatbot: Customers want to solve problems themselves, and they’re open to bots and AI if that means fast, efficient resolutions to their issues. With Zendesk AI, for example, you can build a bot in minutes by having it leverage your knowledge base articles to create conversation flows.
  • Generate content on the fly: AI-powered tools like Zendesk turn a few bullet points into a complete article, enabling you to write knowledge base content at scale.
  • Update articles with the help of AI: AI can identify and flag outdated help center content that needs improvement.

By embracing these techniques, you’ll create happier customers and support agents.

9. Empower your agents

A good customer experience and employee experience (EX) are interlinked. Supporting your team members means equipping them with the tools and processes they need to do their jobs well. Here are a few ways businesses can do this:

  • Arm agents with a unified workspace so they have customer context at their fingertips and don’t need to toggle between different tools to help your customers.
  • Improve agents’ workflows by automatically routing tickets to the agent with the right skills and providing them with prepared answers so they don’t have to type out your reimbursement policy.
  • Pass on repetitive requests to a bot so agents can focus on the more engaging parts of their job.
  • Invest in workforce management (WFM) and quality assurance (QA) tools so you can boost productivity, identify coaching areas, and develop employee skills.

Per our CX Trends Report, when asking agents what would help them do their job better, three of the top five answers were: a single view of a customer’s interactions across all channels, having access to data that allows them to personalize interactions, and utilizing AI tools. So, our research backs up our suggestions as well.

10. Prioritize customer data protection

On the one hand, customers want businesses to use their information to provide personalized experiences (as long as businesses are transparent about data collection). On the other hand, customers are concerned about how their data gets used and how you will protect it from cybersecurity threats.

According to our CX Trends Report, 83 percent of CX leaders say data protection and cybersecurity are top priorities in their customer service strategies. Customer data privacy is a rising trend for this year and beyond, so you must prioritize security to ensure your private data stays private.

11. Monitor data and trends to improve

To keep up with customer needs, support teams need analytics software that gives them instant access to customer insights across channels in one place. This enables them to be agile because they can go beyond capturing data and focus on understanding and reacting to it.

Look for customer service software that offers real-time and historical analytics to help your team take action on what’s happening currently and understand past trends. This can identify areas of development, help you learn how customers interact with your business, and boost your overall customer experience.

Good customer service examples

Now, let’s cover a few examples that show how businesses use Zendesk to deliver outstanding customer service.

Liberty

A quote details how Liberty benefited from using Zendesk AI for more efficient ticket routing.

Liberty is a UK-based premium department store retailer that prioritizes fast, friendly, and factual service. But when Ian Hunt, director of customer services at Liberty, first came aboard, the company ran its operations using outdated methods like shared email inboxes. Hunt knew the company needed a modern customer service solution that allowed it to provide great service befitting a luxury brand, so the team turned to Zendesk.

Since partnering with Zendesk, Liberty has delivered good customer service in every interaction. It offers customer support through phone, chat, email, and WhatsApp to meet customers on their preferred channels. Liberty also uses AI to automatically classify and route tickets to the appropriate agent, tackle ticket backlogs, and identify customer sentiment, intent, and language—leading to higher satisfaction and more one-touch tickets.

Virgin Pulse

A quote shows how Virgin Pulse uses Zendesk to power its self-service.

Virgin Pulse is the world’s largest global well-being solution provider, and it designs technology to cultivate good employee lifestyle habits. The company serves 14 million members with a 15 to 20 percent YoY growth rate, and it knew it needed a partner to help drive continuous process improvements.

Since partnering with Zendesk, Virgin Pulse has provided a comprehensive omnichannel support experience through phone, email, chat, Facebook, Twitter, and other channels. This makes it easy for customers to reach out to the support team on any medium and enables agents to manage all conversations in one place and deliver faster service.

Additionally, Virgin prioritized improving its self-help resources and external FAQs. Before the support site upgrade, the company was tracking about 90,000 FAQ views monthly, and now, members are viewing 275,000 self-help articles per month. This massive improvement helps take pressure off Virgin’s support team and ensures customers find the answers they need.

Indigov

A quote details how Indigov uses Zendesk to keep data safe.

Indigov is constituent relationship management software that works to advance the future of representative democracy across the United States, from federal and state legislatures to mayors and county councils. Since its inception, the company has leveraged Zendesk to improve citizen and employee satisfaction and protect important data through comprehensive security measures.

Indigov’s federal customers require the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), a United States government-wide compliance program prioritizing the security and protection of federal information. Zendesk helps the company fully comply with these regulations while improving the customer experience.

On the federal government’s decades-old legacy system, it used to take congressional staff 58 clicks to respond to a piece of constituent mail. With Indigov’s technology suite built on Zendesk, staffers can now respond in just three clicks, and the response time has dropped from 80 days to less than eight hours. As a result, staff can help more constituents, leading to a more prompt and effective government response.

Frequently asked questions

Deliver excellent customer service with Zendesk

Good customer service can change businesses for the better. Organizations that prioritize their customers are more likely to build long-term relationships with them and boost profits. But it’s not enough to deliver good customer service—you need to provide excellent customer service, which we are experts in at Zendesk.

Our comprehensive customer service software helps you scale your offerings, stay flexible through change, and create meaningful connections with your customers. With features ranging from ticket routing to performance reporting and everything in between, Zendesk can help you offer an outstanding CX.

Visit our service page to learn how we can make a difference for you.

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