5 Customer Service Principles That Elevate Your Business

Customer service is a key part of any business and the modern customer has higher expectations than ever before. Helping your customers extends far beyond just making a sale – customers expect businesses to be on hand to handle their queries and ensure they get the most out of their products and services. Delivering quality customer support isn’t easy, and that’s why you need to design your service strategy based on these key customer service principles to guide your team.

Why are customer service principles important?

There was a time when customer service was considered a cost center. But as we’ve entered the CX era, customer service is now being regarded as the powerhouse of businesses. Good customer service can inspire customer loyalty, brand advocacy, and long-term revenue. 

But to delight customers and leverage the business potential of customer service to the fullest, your support team needs to nail down the right customer service principles to be followed.

What are the 5 core principles of customer service?

The five core customer service principles include:

  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Accountability
  • Quality
  • Transparency

Let’s take a closer look at the five principles and talk about how you can implement them in your organization:

1.  Speed: Resolve customer issues with a sense of urgency

No customer likes to be kept waiting – they often pick up the phone because they want to speak to an agent quickly but are then put on hold with long wait times. Emails have a similar expectation for speed – albeit not as instant as real-time conversational channels such as calls or live chat. According to research, customers expect businesses to respond to their emails within one hour – but 66% of companies currently take a day or more to respond. 

Create a team culture that takes pride in treating customer issues in a time-sensitive manner and with a sense of urgency. A sense of urgency is not meant to be stressful but rather an understanding that customers need to be handled promptly, and to let customers know that they are important to you.  

Here are a few ways to enable your team to offer faster resolutions:

  • Optimize internal processes with workflow automations to categorize, priotizie, and route incoming queries, and also follow-up and escalate customer queries.
  • Train support agents on adhering to SLAs and noticing signs of distress – catch a customer who is about to become unhappy and turn their experience around with a quick reply.
  • Set up autoresponders to acknowledge receipt of a customer’s issue.
  • Create a repository of canned responses and solution articles that can be used to answer frequently asked questions in a click.
  • Launch agent-facing AI chatbots that help agents with the best response, resource, or step and also automate complex backend processes.

You can set up a self-service portal to enable customers to solve basic problems on their own. Customers now expect to be able to help themselves and you can use knowledge base software to set up a help center. Fill your self-service portal with all the content customers need to know about your product and how to troubleshoot problems. One of the main advantages of self-service is that you can help your customer 24 hours a day, even when agents aren’t available. 

With Freshdesk, you can offer a range of customer self-service options including AI-enabled chatbots that offer thorough resolutions, and help-widgets for delivering proactive assistance. Self-service not only helps customers find answers quickly but also goes a long way in easing agent bandwidth and enabling agents to take on more complex customer issues.

You can measure some metrics to find out how your service team is performing in terms of speed.  

  • Average waiting time tells you how long customers are waiting before you answer their call. 
  • Average response time is calculated by recording the time between when a customer sends a message to the support team, and the time it takes the support team to respond to the customer. 
  • First response time is a separate metric, which measures the waiting period between the first customer message and the first reply. 
  • Resolution time measures the amount of time between when a customer issue is first created and when that interaction is marked as “resolved”.

customer service principles - speed

2. Accuracy: Give your support agents all the product knowledge they need

The more your support team knows about your product, the better they’ll be at providing customer support. Make it a priority to train your agents in the product, with refresher training for every new release. 

Right from the onboarding stages, start training your support agents to become experts on your product offerings. For the customer, your support team represents what your company and products stand for. Encourage your agents to step into the shoes of your customers and try out every feature and install available add-ons. 

Aside from onboarding training on your product, consider creating video tutorials for your employees to learn from. These tutorials can take your employees through the product and explore the different features available. These can serve a double purpose by also being useful to share with your customers. 

You can set up an internal knowledge base containing solution articles for your product. All your employees will be singing the same song because they can consult your knowledge base during support interactions. Centralizing your product information in a knowledge base reduces wait times because your support team won’t have to wait for answers from coworkers – the answers will be provided through helpful product content. You can also launch an agent assist chatbot that serves as a conversational self-service module for agents. These chatbots can assist agents by surfacing relevant resources, company policies, etc. and enable agents to offer accurate responses well on time.

3.Accountability: Establish customer service accountability across teams

All employees in the organization should contribute to customer service, even if they aren’t directly involved in the process like a support team. There are multiple teams that play a part in customer service, including sales, product, finance, and legal. Each of these departments needs to be held accountable for sticking to timelines promised to customers.

Create a collaboration framework: Create a working document to make collaboration easier between multiple teams. Maintain details about the response rates that each team achieves to make sure accountability is distributed. Deploy the right tools to simplify cross-collaboration in the company.

Set up team goals: Arrive at realistic customer service goals that your support agents can pursue after conferring with them and also doing some market research on the industry benchmarks. Set up clear-cut SLAs that need to be followed across regions and communication channels.

4. Quality: Empower customer service efforts with customer feedback

One of the best ways to ensure quality customer service is to listen to customer feedback with surveys. Deploying the proper framework to close the feedback look improves the work environment of your agents and enables them to engage in better customer interactions. 

Keep asking your customers and employees if the existing support setup poses any complexities – there are always areas where your business can improve. Conduct surveys to fine-tune your customer service principles including CES, CSAT, and NPS, and gather quality feedback on your brand, product, and services.

Customer feedback is a reflection of the quality of customer service you deliver. So periodically collecting feedback, and incorporating your customer’s suggestion is vital to improving your customer support. Additionally, good reporting and analytics help you understand what you’re doing well while highlighting key areas of improvement. 

Learn about your customers, their evolving needs, and expectations in terms of content, features, and solutions you put out. With personalization, you can ensure every message to your customers is relevant to them. 

5.  Transparency: Keep customer communication very transparent

Brands should always communicate honestly with their customers, even when the news they have to share isn’t good news. 

Customers value honest communication more than anything. If you have a customer query on the queue that may need more time than usual, be forthcoming and set clear expectations about when it’s likely to be resolved. Customers will be more willing to wait if the reason for the delay is genuine and understandably time-consuming. 

Communicate downtimes proactively, own up to vendor goof-ups as it’s a part of your process too, and respond to bad PR situations with clear-cut explanations.

How to put customer service principles into practice

In addition to the five steps listed above, here are a few ways to put customer service principles into practice:

Gamification: Turning customer support into a game is a good way to motivate your agents to aim high. Give your support agents something to stand for and flaunt proudly. Give away badges and points for good customer service by adopting a helpdesk that gamifies support.

customer service principles - gamification

Tools: Use customer service software to centralize all customer information in one place. A helpdesk like Freshdesk is one of the most tried and tested ways to interact with customers and ensure that agents can collaborate effectively with one another. 

Training: Providing culture and product training to support agents is vital to get them into a customer-first mindset. Spend time regularly training them in different scenarios in a controlled environment to improve their confidence in dealing with customers. Training should be part of a workday for support reps – not an extracurricular activity they have to attend. 

In Conclusion

Now you’re ready to vastly improve your business outcomes with these five customer service principles outlined here. Remember, customer service should always focus on customer needs rather than what is only good for your company. Prioritize and keep your customers in mind over every business decision to reflect customer-centricity in your culture; to truly gain their satisfaction and loyalty in the long term.