Great customer service is ever-evolving.
Sometimes, the classic ideas are all you need, but this may not always hold true.
Every now and then, you need an idea or two to help inject life into your customer service efforts and revitalize how you show your customers you truly care.
So to help that effort, we’ve compiled seven of the best out-of-the-box ideas to help you take the next step towards delivering top-notch customer service.
Use one or all of these ideas, or pick the ones that will work best for your brand. Let’s get to it!
Idea #1: Get the CEO Involved
Believe it or not, customer service is a leadership initiative, but it isn’t always recognised that way. Many brands see it as a low- to mid-level concern. After all, the CEO has bigger fish to fry.
But that’s not the greatest thought process, because your entire company relies on how your front line of support interacts with your customers.
If that fails to impress, then the company is in danger of failing. That makes this a C-suite level issue.
To take your service to the next level, you should work on involving your company’s leaders. That includes your CEO, CFO, and especially your CMO.
Just take a peek at this excellent example of customer service from T-Mobile CEO1 John Legere:
Imagine getting a direct message (and free stuff) from the CEO of a brand you support. That’s an amazing brand loyalty builder.
To top that, it’s also a great way to put support team training into actionable examples. All-around, this method is a clear winner.
Idea #2: Send Holiday or Birthday Cards
Remind them how thankful you are for them, and they should think of you more often (hint, hint)! But how do you convey that in a holiday card without being annoying, cheesy, or ending up in spam?
Did you know that 41.4% of consumers2 start holiday shopping in November? That may seem a little soon to start sending out your holiday greetings, but it may help tip the customer service scales in your favor.
The holidays (and birthdays) are a great time to remind your customers of how thankful you are for them.
After all, you exist because your customers buy from you. Conveying that in a holiday card is a great way to say thank you.
Besides, everyone loves a good promotion or thoughtful freebie for special occasions. The most common way to do this is to offer a birthday promo, like some of these brands:
– Boston Market
– Caribou Coffee
– Cold Stone Creamery
– Hard Rock Cafe
All of these brands offer free or discounted items on birthdays, which helps them show a little customer love.
Holiday hacks may seem cheesy, but when you do them well, they can be a huge asset to your customer service.
Idea #3: Brag About Your Best Customers
Did you know that studies have shown3 that you need to brag more about your business?
Just think about it. Chances are, you feel like your customer service is already doing a pretty good job.
But providing awesome customer support can be a pretty un-glamorous task. Happy customers are usually a little quieter than unhappy ones, and your business could use the noise from happy customers.
That’s why bragging about your customers, and maybe reminding them how you’ve helped – is such an out-of-the-box idea.
It’s a humblebrag of sorts that makes you look good and shares how great your service is, but is still solely focused on your customer. You’re merely demonstrating value!
To do this effectively, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve perfected two key elements:
– Tell a clear story that focuses on your customer’s problem, and the resolution thereof.
– Show how their problem and your actions demonstrate clear value.
Get these right, and you’ll always have a humblebrag or two that you can mention at the right time, giving your customer service a nice morale boost.
Idea #4: Give Out Free Swag
Company gifting isn’t a new idea, but it has taken a bit of a back seat thanks to the onset of digital customer support.
It can be hard to offer free gear, t-shirts, or any other promotional items when your customer isn’t in the same room as you. But it’s still a top-notch relational tool if planned and executed right.
According to a recent article4, here are a few good giveaway ideas that can boost your customer loyalty and retention:
– Branded stickers for cars or laptops
– Socks are on the rise, and usually, prompt a jealous look from those who haven’t got them yet.
– Long-term, unique gifts like thumb drives, can give your brand a lingering presence in the customers memory.
Studies have shown that this method still works. One brand recently saw 20% more conversions, 23% more subscribers, and an average acquisition cost of only four cents5.
Little touches can make a huge difference in how customers view your overall service.
While they’ll never substitute a good product or solid follow through on issues, it’s still a guaranteed way to share a little customer appreciation.
Idea #5: Crowdsource Your Next Idea
Customer service can never happen in a vacuum.
It relies on your brand being able to field the ideas, hopes, and issues of your customer, and using their findings to deliver experiences that keeps them coming back.
A great way to take that idea to the next level, is to give your customers direct input on where you are going next as a business. That’s what crowdsourcing does.
Crowdsourcing is a great way to make your next initiative completely focused on what your customer wants, because they’re the ones driving the boat.
Yes, you ultimately have to pick your move carefully based on what will benefit your bottomline. But you can still benefit, from just listening.
The My Starbucks Idea6 initiative is a clean example of how some brands make this method work.
Over the years, this initiative has given customers a platform to drive direct change in the company, and it’s seen some staggering results. In fact, you can credit Starbucks’ free wifi, Caramel Frappuccino, and mobile payment systems to this initiative:
This is top-notch customer service in action, because it centers on giving customers what they think they want and need.
By turning it into a larger initiative, you can generate a good amount of hype about your customer service in a way that is otherwise impossible.
Idea #6: Give Someone a Surprise Upgrade
You work long and hard to acquire and retain customers. So while giving someone an upgrade may sound like throwing money away, it’s actually a good long-term plan.
It’s like getting upgraded to first class on an airline flight. You were already on the flight, but now you get extra benefits from the flight for no extra charge!
When you upgrade a customer to a higher level of service, you give them a preview of what they can do, if their needs are different.
That’s especially true if you’re a SaaS company that focuses on your customer experience7.
This idea is just the natural extension of a process you may already be using.
If you already offer a free trial, it’s because you know that it paves a faster route for them to becoming paying customers. That month or two of free service could eventually turn into a lifelong customer, and that’s always worth the investment.
Customers who upgrade also tend to stick around longer. Upgrades fully integrate your customer into your brand and your customer service, and also shows them a great service experience.
Clearly, this is a win-win situation.
Idea #7: Focus on Culture Instead of Profits
Customer service is important, but is it the most important thing for your business?
According to research that was created and shared by Zappos, it probably should be.
They found that each year, more than $300 billion was being wasted8 by companies who aren’t customer-centric. And transitioning to a customer-centric model provides a 20% productivity boost.
That means building a customer-focused culture should be the top priority of every brand, but it still remains a slightly out-of-the-box idea. Until that $300 billion turns into a zero, there’s potential and room to improve.
Hopefully, it will become more mainstream with time, but until then you have something very quantifiable to work for.
Customer service may be evolving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for creative ways to elevate your overall experience.
Start by getting your CEO and other C-suite executives involved on the ground floor of your support. Customers will love it, and your team will grow because of it.
You can also set up a system to be reminded of birthdays and holidays, and use them as an occasion to share a little customer love.
It’s also a good idea to find times to brag about your customers. Social media and blog posts make it easier than ever before.
And if you really want to get customers involved and happy with your service, consider giving out some free swag or a free upgrade. They’ll see your branding more, and stick around for much longer.
Crowdsourcing ideas is another excellent way to show your customers they matter, and can even provide fresh ideas about where your business is headed.
Finally, make sure you’re taking steps towards building a customer-centric culture. It’s proven to be an effective way to build your company’s future, but many brands are still slow to respond.
In the end, your customer service is your own playing field. Hopefully one of these ideas will help, or even spark another great idea that will help you deliver better service in the coming years.
Main illustration done by Siddharth Kandoth
1 – https://www.inc.com/robbie-abed/in-1-tweet-t-mobiles-ceo-shows-right-way-to-handle-customer-service.html
2 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/243495/period-when-us-consumers-began-shopping-for-the-holiday-season/
3 – https://hbr.org/2011/02/why-companies-need-to-learn-to
4 – https://www.inc.com/nancy-a-shenker/want-to-close-more-deals-you-need-better-swag.html
5 – https://antavocontests.com/resources/case-studies/latest-free-stuff
6 – https://ideas.starbucks.com/
7 – https://getcodeless.com/sustained-growth/
8 – https://www.zapposinsights.com/start-here