How to Improve Customer Service: Top 10 Practical Tips

Like most business leaders, you want your company to provide a great customer service experience. You hope to respond quickly, have positive interactions with your customers, and give them the solutions they need. 

However, with customers being higher expectations than ever, and customer support teams being understaffed, this is easier said than done. 

If you’re wondering how to improve customer service in this salutation, then look no further. This article is here to give you practical solutions and recommendations that will help you upgrade your customer service. 

Tip #1: Offer 24/7 support

Illustration detailing the importance of around the clock supportNo matter what kind of business you have, customers are happier when they don’t have to wait for service. 53% of customers say they want faster response times from customer service agents.1

So, offering 24/7 customer support keeps customers happy and loyal. 

It’s especially important if you have a customer base spread across multiple time zones, or if you work in a field like healthcare or finance that requires your team to be available for critical situations. 

But building up to 24/7 support is daunting. Luckily, scaling your team is only part of the equation. There are also some tools that can lighten the load. 

How to offer 24/7 support

An easy way to help customers 24/7 is to provide self-service using a knowledge base or a chatbot. A knowledge base is cost-effective and is also popular with customers — 86% of them expect for a brand or organization to have an online self-service portal.2

Of course, some customers need more interaction than a knowledge base provides. Customer service chatbots are available 24/7 to point customers to the most relevant knowledge base articles. 

Chatbots when powered with AI, can do more than just surface answers from your knowledge base (more on this later). 

Tip #2: Create memorable customer experiences

A memorable customer experience is one that leaves the customer with a positive feeling about your company. 

The building blocks of good customer experiences are:

  • Low customer effort
  • Personalized attention
  • Contextual understanding of a situation
  • Proactive and clear conversations
  • Fast resolution

How to create memorable customer experiences

In addition to having a stellar customer support team, a good helpdesk software is the key to offering assistance with context and creating delightful experiences. 

Customers are rightfully frustrated when they get transferred to an agent who doesn’t know the history of their issue. Even if the customer is using a different channel or if it’s been months since their last communication, the agent who responds should know the full story. 

Good helpdesk software ensures that agents have visibility into customer context. It gives the customer service representative insights that go beyond the customer’s current issue, such as their product usage, past tickets, billing history, or a customer health score, and also makes sure any other team member tagged into solving the customer query has complete context as well . 

Screenshot of Freshdesk - a helpdesk software

Tip #3: Set up service-level agreements

A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract between an end-user and a company outlining service expectations. In some cases, SLAs are built and used internally alone to set benchmarks for agents. 

In customer support, typical SLAs fall into three categories:

  • Response SLAs set a deadline for agents to reply to a customer
  • Resolution SLAs set a deadline for closing or resolving the ticket
  • Customized SLAs assign specific deadlines to specific types of tickets or customers

SLAs are key to ensuring that your customer service is high-quality and consistent, but can be extremely difficult to track them all manually. 

How to do set up SLAs the right way

Your helpdesk software should help you set and manage SLAs, and escalate action when necessary. When a customer inquiry comes in, its appropriate SLA is automatically triggered. 

You can set up an SLA matrix where you define rules that automatically send a reminder to the agent when a deadline is approaching, and a note to the admin/manager when an SLA is breached. 

Screenshot of SLA configuration in Freshdesk

Finally, helpdesks can generate SLA reports. Understanding how often and why your team is missing SLAs will help you take steps to improve your customer service. 

Tip #4: Strengthen customer service skills

Your customer service is only as good as the people who deliver it. Delivering great customer service requires a team with skills, including:

  • Communication (on multiple channels)
  • Empathy with the customer
  • Handling difficult conversations
  • Time management
  • Collaboration
  • Product expertise

How to strengthen customer service skills

Improving customer service skills requires ongoing training for your support team. You will have to periodically offer soft skills and communication training. 

One of the best ways to strengthen your team’s soft skills is to take up mock customer cases and roleplay them. This helps you identify areas of improvement while helping agents improve their confidence. Once done, you can offer personalized feedback and demos on how to handle situations better.

You can also use these mocks to improve your team’s overall communication by giving them feedback on their tone of voice, the sort of greetings they use, and the first impression they form.  

Tip #5: Communicate with customers on their preferred channel

Screenshot of a pie chart denoting channel preference 

Customers expect to be able to contact businesses on multiple channels. They all have a preference, and insisting that they reach you some other way provides a negative customer experience. 

Email is still the most popular method to contact customer service with 66.1% of customers using it, but many prefer a self-service portal (15%), a phone call (12.3%), or another channel.3 

Most businesses are doing their best to communicate effectively with customers, but many struggles to keep up with questions coming in from every direction. This can result in inquiries being missed or customers having an inconsistent experience depending on the channel they use. 

How to streamline customer communication

An omnichannel customer service software enables you to offer a seamless experience for the customer regardless of channel. 

Screenshot of an omnichannel inbox by Freshdesk

Agents can easily engage in conversations across channels without having to switch between tools. An omnichannel support software also unifies context and customer history shared between channels ensuring that agents are able to offer a consistent customer experience. 

Whether they’re helping a customer over the phone, e-mail, or another channel, agents have the information they need to anticipate and resolve customer issues quickly.

Tip #6: Manage to customer feedback 

Customer feedback helps you adjust your service strategy and proactively respond to issues. 

For the most useful results, solicit feedback from as many customers as possible. Don’t just celebrate the victories — follow up on negative feedback. If you’re tracking your customer satisfaction (CSAT) score, investigate a low or declining score. 

Everyone wonders what their customers think about them, but soliciting, collecting, analyzing, and acting on feedback from a variety of channels can be a challenge. 

How to manage customer feedback effectively

With the right customer feedback software, you can:

  • Gather feedback from multiple channels after every customer interaction
  • Categorize feedback based on the source of feedback, different customer segments or different products/services
  • Share feedback instantly with the right team members
  • Follow up with the customer and close the loop

Automatically sending a Customer Satisfaction, or CSAT, survey after each customer support interaction is an easy way to track the efficacy of your customer service strategy. 

A CSAT survey presents the customer with a ranking scale. For example, the choices could range from “1 – not satisfied at all” to “5 – very satisfied.” Use your helpdesk software to generate reports on your ratings and make improvements accordingly. 

When you embed a feedback form in your product or on your website, make sure to include open-ended questions so customers can tell you what went wrong where or how you can improve or just how much they like your product or service. 

There’s a lot of feedback that you can find on your brand’s social media profiles. Use your helpdesk to monitor social channels and automatically convert posts into support tickets. 

With Freshdesk, Freddy AI for CX even scans through your social feed and draws your attention to the conversations that need an urgent response. 


Tip #7: Improve internal communication and collaboration

Many companies struggle with overcoming silos and fragmented internal communication. This is an even greater obstacle for remote teams. 

While the pandemic has accelerated the move to remote work, the option to enable long-term remote work is increasing in popularity. 65% of customer service leaders worldwide plan to embrace remote or hybrid operating models moving forward.4

Unfortunately, poor communication and collaboration – one of the potential side effects of a remote workforce, leads to a slow, inconsistent experience for the customer. 

How to enable agents to collaborate efficiently

Break down silos by putting your whole team on the same platform with access to the same information. Your internal knowledge base ensures that knowledge isn’t divided between departments or physical locations. Everyone is on the same page. 

Choosing a helpdesk software that has a collaboration tool backed into it ensures that a new agent who walks into a customer interaction will have all the information required to offer seamless support. 

Screenshot of Freshdesk - Freshconnect integration

Your helpdesk should also allow for shared ownership of tickets. Agents can loop teammates into a ticket without losing visibility and multiple teams can also split tasks and work on them in parallel.

Tip #8: Incorporate customer-facing chatbots

Customer service chatbots are increasing in popularity. In fact, 72% of customer service leaders in the US have increased their investment in AI-chatbots and automation.5

Support bots can take some of the work off of your team’s shoulders, without sacrificing personalization. Using AI also leads to faster response and resolution times, which in return leads to happy customers. 

How to incorporate customer-facing chatbots 

You can build chatbots on your own (without any tech assistance) with a no-code chatbot builder. All you have to do is design the bot’s conversation flows and optimize for seamless and personalized assistance.

Screenshot of the no-code bot-builder by Freshworks

Power your chatbot solution with AI and ML so it can respond to your customers’ questions with the best fitting answer and also follow up with relevant conversation flows that further engage your customers. 

Once you’ve deployed your chatbot, you need to keep an eye on how it performs. A good chatbot solution will come with a reporting and analytics module that you can leverage to constantly monitor and improve its performance.

Tip #9: Deploy an agent-facing AI

AI isn’t just there for the customer — it can help agents too. Customer support agents are constantly tending to multiple tickets while running processes and updating statuses. 

In 2020, customer service leaders around the world recorded a 40-49% dip in service quality, first response times, and agent productivity.6

A little help from an AI in the form of a solution article or canned recommendations, process automation, and even conversation prompts can go a long way in making the life of a support agent easy.

How to deploy an agent-facing AI

First and foremost, you need to pick the right agent-facing AI solution. Look for the following features:
– Automatic ticket triage to route tickets to the right agents and save the time that’s spent on updating ticket fields
– Process automation to increase productivity
– Smart resource recommendations
– Assist bot for step-by-step assistance for troubleshooting issues

Advanced solutions such as Freddy AI for CX also offer advanced features like:
– A thank-you detector that prevents thank-you messages from reopening closed tickets
– Social Signals to ensure that alarming tweets are immediately brought to your team’s attention

Once you’ve picked the AI platform, integrate your data/resources and train it for a while. Once you’re confident about its performance, you can roll it out to your team and onboard them.

Tip #10: Measure your success 

Illustration detailing various customer service metrics

You feel like you’re rocking customer service, but does the data back that up?

To improve customer service, you have to know where you’re succeeding and what needs work. 

You should know how well your support team is doing and how satisfied your customers feel with the support experience. You should also know how customer service is impacting the company as a whole. 

Quantifiable data lets you make smart improvements to your processes. 

How to measure customer service metrics the right way

If you’re trying to get this data from too many different tools and sources, you’ll create a lot more work for yourself. 

Instead, use a single customer service platform that can report on a variety of metrics, including:

  • Monthly ticket volume
  • Average response time
  • Number of resolved and unresolved tickets
  • Average resolution time
  • Number of support tickets by type
  • Channel attribution 
  • Top support agents
  • Customer satisfaction score
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Rating response rate
  • Churn analysis

The more knowledge you have about your team’s performance and your customers’ happiness, the better your customer service strategy will be. 

Conclusion

Improving customer service is about working smarter, not harder. If the idea of providing fast, accurate, personalized, 24/7 service feels overwhelming, you may not be using the right tools. 

Consider a platform that includes omnichannel support, self-service options, a central database of customer information, detailed reporting, and chatbots to engage your customers and lighten your workload. 

If you’d like to use a customer service software with all these features and more, then give Freshdesk a try (it starts at $0 for unlimited agent seats).

Source:
1 – https://freshdesk.com/resources/whitepaper/whitepaper/whitepaper/guide-proactive-support
2 – https://info.microsoft.com/ww-landing-global-state-of-customer-service.html
3 – https://freshdesk.com/customer-happiness-benchmark-report
4,5,6 – https://www.freshworks.com/the-new-cx-mandate/