10 Tips To Improve Customer Service Communication
Customer service communication can play a huge role in how customers perceive your brand.
For example, here are two ways to let a customer know that an item is out of stock:
1. “I’m sorry, this particular dress isn’t in stock and won’t be in for another two weeks.”
2. “You can have the dress in two weeks, and if you like, I can place an order for you now, so you get it as soon as it’s back in store.”
The meaning is exactly the same, but in the second example, there’s a sense that you’re going the extra mile for the customer–while also closing a deal. It’s all a matter of how the message is communicated.
Not surprisingly, communication is the bread and butter of customer service –as every interaction between your company and your customer is a communication exchange.
What is customer service communication?
Customer service communication refers to the exchange of information between a customer and a company while resolving the customer’s issue. From email responses to social media updates and phone calls – there are so many different ways to communicate with your customers and offer assistance.
Excellent customer service communication requires skills like speaking and writing clearly, effectively, efficiently, and politely. You need to employ empathetic listening when you’re communicating with customers. Remember, communication is a two-way street.
Why are communication skills important in customer service?
A single bad experience can affect how your customers perceive your brand. In fact, one-third of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service.1 Being able to convey a message effectively is critical to offering excellent customer support. Without communication, there’s no customer service possible.
Listening to the customer, being patient, displaying empathy, and understanding the issue or problem are skills that help you communicate effectively with the customer and are a must-have while working in customer support.
What are the factors that impact customer service communication?
Good communication and effective customer service are intertwined. Several factors can impact how you communicate with customers and deliver customer service.
Giving your customers the freedom to choose the communication channel they prefer is part of an excellent customer experience. In fact, according to Microsoft, 54% of consumers worldwide favor brands that respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media.2 Offer support through the channels of communication your customers use the most and make it easy for them to contact you. For example, if your customers belong to a younger demographic, you might want to consider offering customer support through your social media and mobile-first messaging channels such as WhatsApp and LINE.
The experience of talking to a person using a script versus communicating empathetically with someone is entirely different. Customers will feel heard from the beginning if you can relate to their needs. When we contact customer support, we are looking for someone who can understand what we are looking for and help us with a quick resolution.
Personalizing the experience by introducing yourself, addressing the customer by name, and trying to gather context about the customer’s issue beforehand is part of excellent customer service communication. Ultimately, you want your agents to be supportive when it comes to wanting to help your customers. This is the best personalization experience you can offer.
Consistency means that the service experience doesn’t change depending on who’s offering support or the channel of communication. For example, when customer support reps communicate with your customers, you want them to use consistent guidelines and refer to unified customer records to ensure that customers don’t face any breaks in their experience.
If your company sells luxury products, you’d want your reps to provide a little bit of the VIP treatment. You can do this by viewing a customer’s previous interactions across channels and accessing their order history to get up to speed on their issue. By gathering context beforehand, you can give the customer the impression that you know exactly what they are going to talk about. This can help you offer fast, context-rich, consistent assistance that is nothing short of VIP treatment.
It’s best to ensure that your brand voice shines through in all interactions. Brands also need to be consistent in the vocabulary they use across all channels, and reps should have the skills to use it precisely during interactions for a better service.
(4) Feedback responses
Each interaction with your customer is an opportunity to collect valuable data about how your customers feel about your brand. According to Microsoft, 89% of customers view brands favorably if they proactively invite and welcome customer feedback.2 You can use the given information to learn more about their likes, dislikes, and think about improving your product. Additionally, when you collect customer feedback, it gives your customer an impression that you care, helping you to strengthen relationships.
10 ways to improve customer service communication
#1 Practice patience and empathy
Show that you care for your customers even if they share their frustration. Some customers need that extra word of assurance or a higher level of engagement to feel satisfied with the outcome. Also, being patient allows you the time to figure out the root cause of the problem and how to provide an effective solution instead of closing the loop in a hurry.
#2 Communicate clearly and concisely
Develop command over your language and product knowledge to inspire trust in your customers. Clarity requires you to break down complexities into concepts that are easily digestible for your customers. For example, while they don’t need to know the nitty-gritty of what caused a bug, you may need to explain what really happened in simpler terms.
Clear communication prevents customer frustration by ensuring that there are no miscommunications. Successful customer support reps can explain what’s going on in simple terms that don’t leave customers wondering or confused. For great examples of how this works in practice, check out the Reddit forum Explain Like I’m Five.3
Make sure that you’re using positive language when communicating with a customer. Positive language means telling your customer what you can do for them rather than what you can’t.
For example, instead of saying, “That’s not something I deal with. Jessica is in charge of billing, and she’s not here right now,” say something like, “I understand. Please let me find that out for you and get back to you as soon as I have this information.”
#3 Listen to your customers intently
Waiting on hold forever to get the help you need can be very frustrating, but having a customer support rep get you an incorrect answer is even worse when it comes to customer frustration! So listening carefully to what customers are saying is probably the single most effective strategy to provide the solution they need. You might not be able to help them, and perhaps you need to contact someone else, but ultimately, if you understand their actual problem, you’ll give them a solution. Listen to your customers with attention to specific details, understand their problems’ magnitude, and identify internal areas of improvement.
#4 Display emotional intelligence
Speak the customers’ language and acknowledge what issues they are facing by putting yourself in their shoes. Empathizing with a problem or frustration your customer can go a long way – customers feel better when you’re honest and genuinely care about fixing their issue.
Here’s an example of how to display emotional intelligence while dealing with an angry customer:
Customer: “I ordered it a month ago, and when I finally received it, it’s the wrong size! I’ve been on hold forever — you seriously treat customers this way?!”
Representative Response: “I’m so sorry you had to wait. From my understanding, you either need to exchange the product you received with the right size or return it for a refund. Do I understand this correctly?”
Other examples of emotional intelligence you can use during a conversation are:
- “I understand what you are going through.”
- “I would be equally frustrated in your place.”
- “I want to help you.”
- “I can see why you’re frustrated.”
- “Thanks for bringing this to our attention!”
- “I completely understand why you’re asking for this.”
#5 Be proactive in your approach
Going the extra mile with a customer is a fantastic way to delight your customers. Anticipating potential issues that your customers may face and providing a solution can save them a headache. For instance, you can communicate foreseeable issues in advance via email or chat,, and offer help instantly when customers are showing visible signs of frustration using website widgets. Proactive communication can play a major role in ensuring why your customers stick to your brand.
#6 Use data to know your customers better
Consider the following stat: It’s five times more expensive to acquire new customers than retain your current ones.4 Knowing this, it’s a no-brainer to find out why customers are leaving and focus on keeping them. Knowing who your customers are and what drives them to buy your product or request for your service are crucial to business growth and success. Use analytics to identify customer groups and their needs to offer them personalized experiences and stand out from the competition.
#7 Add creativity into the mix
Customer service can get very monotonous. So when the right opportunity presents itself, add some creativity to delight your customers. Creative responses, especially on social media, can get a positive response, even if it’s for solving a grievance. As long as you’re consistent with your brand, your customers will enjoy humor and creativity!
However, use discretion when it comes to humor and creativity. There might be some situations, issues, or customers that would not appreciate a light-handed reply. To avoid mishaps, drawing out the lines of acceptable or unacceptable scenarios in which to allow a free hand, is critical.
#8 Enable employee engagement
Support your customer service agents, enabling them to discuss their problems with experts who can connect with what they go through. Not only will this encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration across the organization but also present newer opportunities to delight customers. You may want to set up some time every week and encourage agents to convene and share pain points or key learnings.
It is important that your support team can easily communicate and help each other on a day-to-day basis. This can be done by choosing a help desk software that comes with an in-built collaboration tool. For instance, Freshdesk enables agents to collaborate on the internal chat tool that can be accessed right within the tool. Alternatively, you can also integrate communication software with your helpdesk software to facilitate smooth collaboration.
#9 Ask for customer feedback and fine-tune your support
Customer feedback is one of the most important aspects of improving your customer experience. When a customer picks up the phone, sends you an email, or messages you on social media, they give you the chance to improve your product – don’t miss out. By listening to what customers are saying, you can refine and improve your customer support. Therefore, an integral part of customer service communication is reaching out to customers and asking for their feedback.
#10 Manage time efficiently
As the saying goes, “time is money.” Tracking your time for different types of issues, committing to Service Level Agreements (SLAs), analyzing scenarios that cause delays, and working on them are all part of improving your customer service communication. For example, assigning a resolution SLA with a deadline for when the ticket needs to be closed or resolved can ensure that the customer gets their issue resolved with quality responses and action, not just quick answers.
You can leverage workflow automation to save time spent on repetitive processes. For instance, instead of manually going through tickets to keep parameters up-to-date, you can set up an automation rule that scans all your tickets every hour and updates relevant properties automatically.
Agent-facing AI and bots can also offer to free up your time. With the agent-facing bots powered by Freshworks’ AI, you can run complex backend processes in a single click, get smart recommendations for responses and resources that can be plugged into your conversation with the customer. The AI flags important social media mentions, automatically triages incoming conversations, and prevents thank you messages from reopening closed tickets, all of which are time-consuming activities when performed manually.
Customer Service Communication That Works
A call to customer service is often the first human-to-human exchange between your customer and your brand. “For better or worse, that representative becomes your brand until that call ends,” says Matt Doyle from Forbes.5 After that, your customer and your company will be communicating with one another, and so you must develop the best skills possible to make your customer service communication a success.