Customer service is the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services — that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you. Offering amazing customer service is important if you want to retain customers and grow your business. Today’s customer service goes far beyond the traditional telephone support agent. It’s available via email, web, text message, and social media. Many companies also provide self-service support, so customers can find their own answers at any time day or night. Customer support is more than just providing answers; it’s an important part of the promise your brand makes to its customers.

Why is customer service important to the success of your business?

Customer service is critical to competing effectively.

In the past, people chose which companies they did business with based on price, or the product or service offered, but today the overall experience is often the driver.

“89% of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.”

— GARTNER RESEARCH

Great customer support drives an amazing customer experience, especially when your support team moves beyond just reacting to problems and toward anticipating customers’ problems. When support agents are empowered to go above-and-beyond with customers, or have a help desk solution that makes it easy for them to upsell or cross-sell relevant services, they can create winning experiences that help you stand out from the competition.

Customer service can have a big impact on your bottom line.

It’s often said that it’s cheaper to keep existing customers than to find new ones. (It’s even been estimated that acquiring customers costs 6–7x more. And it’s true: Bad customer service is a key driver of churn. The U.S. Small Business Administration  reports that 68% of customers leave because they’re upset with the treatment they’ve received. Don’t let that happen to you. Prioritizing customer service support  helps you attract and retain loyal customers, and can have a big impact on your company’s bottom line.

+22%

DECREASE IN SUPPORT COSTS

+26%

CUSTOMER RETENTION

+31%

FASTER CASE RESOLUTION

+35%

INCREASE IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Average Percentage Improvements Reported by Salesforce Customers
Source: Salesforce Relationship Survey conducted 2014–2016 among 10,500+ customers randomly selected. Response sizes per question vary.

Customer service can make or break your reputation.

It’s no surprise that as today’s social, mobile consumers have grown accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it, their expectations have risen accordingly. In fact, in a recent poll, 82% of CEOs reported that customer expectations of their companies were “somewhat” or “much” higher than they were three years ago. What’s more, today’s customers are quick to share negative experiences online, where they can quickly reach large audiences. It’s more important than ever to support customers on every channel  from day one and establish what good customer service looks like internally and externally.

Support is an integral part of the product experience.

The line between products and services is blurring, and customer experience has become part of the product or service itself. (Think Amazon Mayday button — it’s a totally seamless way for customers to get help.) It may seem like only a big technology company thing, but even small companies are building product into their customer experiences. Some online businesses start by integrating their support centers  into their website’s headers and footers or by adding links to relevant support articles to specific pages on their site. And many app companies are adding a way for customers to log tickets within their product experience. In-product support is the wave of the future for customer service.

Customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.

Focusing on the customer experience isn’t just the latest trend — it’s also smart business. It turns out that making every touch point great doesn’t just make customers love you; it can also increase your profits. Surveys have shown that 86% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. You may decide to tier your customer base if some are willing to pay more for premium experiences, including premium support, early access to features, or other benefits. Either way, good customer service experiences will benefit your bottom line.

Eight ways to provide excellent customer service.

Since customer service is a key driver of business success, it’s time for businesses to stop thinking of support as a cost center, and start recognizing customer service for what it is: an opportunity waiting to happen.

Every person or company will have their own definition of what good customer service means. No matter how you define it, these eight tried-and-true customer service principles can help you transform your support operations and deliver the best customer service experience every time.

  1. Work as a team
  2. Listen and share
  3. Friendly, empathetic support
  4. Be honest
  5. Improve empathy
  6. Deep product knowledge
  7. Timeliness
  8. Identify ways to improve processes