7 Customer Service Values that Add Value to your Company
Successful businesses like Amazon are built on the basis of prioritizing customer service values over anything else. Their emphasis on customer-centricity shows how customer service values can reap a wide-reaching impact on the growth of any company. If you get the culture right, customer service values will follow.
In growing companies, support reps are riddled with steep targets to be on the right side of service metrics. What they need first however is an organization-wide customer-first culture to guide their actions. So, building excellent core values for customer service must be a precedence to excelling in customer service.
Customer service core values
1. Foster support knowledge: Craftsmanship and ownership of processes
Employee empowerment is the key to service knowledge as a customer service value. Support agents need to be able to demonstrate service knowledge without passing the buck. To create that autonomy, employees should be motivated by the company to understand customer intent through market research and awareness of industry trends.
Staying informed is the key
Apart from online courses, there are a lot of resources that can be accessed through newsletter and webinar subscriptions. For instance, when I joined Freshworks, I was encouraged to subscribe to customer service and CX guru Shep Hyken’s newsletter that contextualize customer service values with different topics every week.
This was in addition to Freshworks’ resources such as academy (to understand the products), ebooks and case studies like customer happiness benchmark report–which give you a deep dive into what the customers expect and how they behave.
Pro tip: Find an expert or a company that helps you add more meaning to your job and kindles your curiosity to become an authority in your field.
It also doesn’t have to be completely tailored to your role. Because customer-facing employees need to find themselves becoming a better version of themselves to understand the essence of customer service values–otherwise it could feel pointless to standby such values when the company is not channeling the same care towards its employees. I was always pushed to expand my horizon to gain new perspectives and career ideas. I subscribed to Product Manager HQ to keep up with industry trends and benchmarks. It is a collaborative community that sends out great learnings in its weekly newsletter that could benefit anyone from support to management in the product teams. Apart from improving your employees’ perception of best practices for customer service and business outcomes, this will also help them develop as professionals.
2. Empathize with customers (and truly mean it!)
Empathy puts customers in a zone of trust and comfort with your brand. The simplest of conversations between a support agent and customer can create great brand value.
The idea is to humanize support interactions and not limit customer handling to daily targets. Empathy as a customer service value will immensely help in understanding the mental place that customers come from, and instead, understand their pain points better.
Sometimes, going off-script and embracing customers’ narrative truly makes them feel special.
Zappos, for instance, is a retail company that encourages its support agents to go script-free and leave the call duration in the customer’s terms. Steven Weinstein, a Zappos support rep, clocked a record 10+ hour call with a customer from Texas. While the call started with the customer seeking help with the orders, the rep indulged the customer when the latter wanted to chat about other things. They struck a chord and the call lasted for more than 10 hours with just one break in between.
A few examples of empathy statements that reflect company values towards customer service:
- You are totally right.
- Your frustration is truly understandable.
- How has your day been?
- I’m going to try my best to make you forget this poor experience.
- I will be personally overseeing every stage of your request for a positive outcome.
- I would have the same concerns if I were in your position.
- Hi *name*, how are you? I recently learned your *company name* cracked a seed funding round. Congratulations!
- I’d love to help you solve that.
- I would personally recommend you to…
3. Operate with transparency
Customer service has a fair share of both success and failure. Keep the learnings open and readily accessible to your support team. On the customer side, be candid with mistakes and own up to them voluntarily before it gets out of hand.
Transparency with customers
Transparency will help you communicate effectively with your customers without inhibitions. For instance, in a SaaS company, it can mean everything from proactively announcing bug fixes in advance, or product downtimes, and getting the message across in a way that doesn’t inconvenience or negatively impact your customers.
Adobe announced its services getting affected in the most creative way when they were facing an AWS outage–some paw patrol. So the way you communicate and get across the grievance to the customer is equally vitally. Be proactive and most importantly, human.
— Adobe Care (@AdobeCare) February 28, 2017
Transparency in the workplace
Within the company, support reps can work together to identify bottlenecks faced by customers. Being the frontline of customer service, support reps have immense context about the types of issues customers face. Transparency about this first-hand knowledge about customers will help the company derive product insights and business ideas.
This will help unify conversations about KPI’s like transactional insights and service metrics, and work towards feeding back customer feedback into marketing, sales, product, support strategies
Pro tip: Freshworks fosters this important customer service value by making detailed case studies about customer success and how the use-cases were solved. We also leverage Workplace by Facebook, so that all functions are in touch with each other and share their learnings from recent customer interactions, appreciations, and feedback.
4. Be customer-first in your service approach
The concerns of the customer should be prioritized over company interests. Every support decision needs to be customer-centric by taking into account the core values that tie together business goals with customer expectations. Customer-centricity is one of the foremost customer service values that create loyal patrons.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon is known for prioritizing customers by encouraging an “empty chair” in meetings, which is symbolic of keeping the customer in mind while making crucial business or product-related decisions.
Giving just technical assistance to customers does not make a company stand out from the competition. Employees need to be encouraged to go creative and expand beyond the limitations of their role to ensure that the customer gets what he/she wants. is what will truly help customers see you as a brand built out of strong customer service values.
Jonathan Samuel, a Senior Product Consultant at Freshworks, received heartfelt praise from a customer. Reason? His assistance went beyond the scope of one of Freshworks’ products, as the customer was looking for a unique feature/solution. Jonathan could have bailed out after knowing that the customer wasn’t going to be a sales opportunity. But upholding the company’s values of being a true customer champion, he took it upon himself to help the prospect find the right solution.
5. Establish proper cross-collaboration
All customer-facing functions need to work towards the common goal of delighting customers and be on the same page with major decisions, and handling customers. Avoid white noise from communicating and collaborating inefficiently by getting the best out of technology.
While helpdesks are now an integral part of most customer-facing activities, how much do they actually help in collaborating seamlessly with other team members? The disconnect is palpable when you notice support reps–in addition to their already busy schedule–swim upstream in contacting other functions like billing, partner vendors, software team, and product team separately to give context.
This takes accountability for a ride as cross-functional collaboration comes at the price of burning out the support agent. Not just that, remember the predicament of keeping the customer waiting as conversations slip through cracks because of disjoint systems that don’t communicate with one another.
Pro tip: Freshworks uses its own flagship customer support product, Freshdesk, which has a built-in team collaboration feature. Multiple functions can work on the same ticket, without losing context about customers’ asks. Make sure your helpdesk has such a feature or find an integration that fosters team collaboration.
6. Empower your employees to evolve
Customer service is one of the functions that involve a high employee turnover rate. Personal development of your customer service employees is key to helping them feel motivated while serving customers. Your employees need to see as much value in the company as your customers. Help them with ideas to improve their work and progress in their careers–let them know of the growing possibilities that are available to them.
- Train your support agents in the skills necessary to carry out more in-depth responsibilities.
- Give them access to the right information and make decision-making easier.
- Build a culture that incentivizes employee initiatives to take on bigger responsibilities.
Pro tip: Involve the employees in a wider chunk of responsibilities in the horizontal process. For instance, a support agent should also be encouraged to jot down their takeaways from customer interactions to help in determining product-market fit, feature roll-outs, and new solutions.
7. Set up a customer service SOP
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is the playbook that reflects your customer service values, to make sure your support agents are on the right track. It’s a repeatable approach that makes it easy for customer-facing agents to quickly identify issues and decide on the best course of action.
At the same time, design the SOP in a way that it empowers autonomy and knowledge among employees, rather than pushing them to ape processes as they are.
Mapping customer journey is the first stage of a customer SOP, where you need to determine and iron out all the touchpoints where the customer engages with your company. It could be live chat, self-service portal, social media, or your website itself. Make sure that there is no disconnect in their journey. Other stages include aligning your support benchmarks with service culture, analyzing customer needs with data, and managing escalations efficiently.
To know more about customer service SOP, check out this blog.
Make customer service values a part your internal mission statement
To truly empower your employees to live by these customer service values, they should be recognized as inherent company values that impact customer experience. Successful businesses, small or big, have customer service values tightly knit into their DNA. Pricing and features are going to remain secondary factors in nudging people towards becoming customers. In fact, there’s know bigger social proof about the significance of customer service values than yourself, to onboard them into your support culture! Think about any of your recent memorable moments from a brand… What stands out from that engagement? Let’s admit it–You mostly remember instances of brands exhibiting their adherence to customer service values by making you feel special!