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11 min read

This morning about 50 emails went out with %firstname% instead of a personalized message. A bill on the schedule to be paid automatically was…not.  Your internet service went out minutes before a meeting that’s been on your calendar for three weeks. These are monthly, weekly, sometimes daily stressors for many small businesses. These many small things, when combined, loom large. You are not a happy customer.

Who do you turn to when these things happen? Friends? Your significant other? 

Customer service. 

Customer service has become more of a buzzword as more businesses turn to digital services to keep things going. These services can streamline your processes and make it simple to do more with less. The rapid and constant changes in digital technologies also mean that there are regular changes to the services you count on. This makes great customer service essential. You need customer service that you can rely on, and your customers do too.

Customer support is a hard thing to manage for most companies. Many businesses do as much as they can with limited resources. To make it more difficult, customers have higher expectations than they used to, and they have more access to information than ever. 

There is a mass of data about the value of great customer service. We all know that a happy customer means higher ROI. When your small business isn’t hearing complaints from customers, you probably think that you’re doing fine.

The thing is, most customers don’t complain. 

Actually, that’s an understatement. Research says that for every 26 unhappy customers, only one complains. And 91% of those 25 leave without ever saying why.

The Selz customer service team gets constant praise for their hard work. In this article, we’re going to share some of the secrets of their success and break down how you can create a happy customer for your small business.

A happy customer on phone or chat is kind and helpful - learn more in this article from Selz ecommerce for growing businesses

For a Happy Customer: Be Kind, Patient, Smart and Fast

We live in a world that’s more do-it-yourself than ever before. But with all that access, we all run the risk of information overload. Most small businesses work with at least 6-10 different tools or platforms, including social media, email and other cloud solutions. Each of these tools has a unique set of instructions and regular updates or changes. 

Sometimes, your customer just wants an answer, and they don’t have the time to figure it out. They want the right answer from someone they can trust.

So, how can you show your customers that they can trust your business? Your customer service team needs to show that they can understand and empathize with your customers. There are four simple and important ways that your team can offer great customer service.

Be kind

“Fast, friendly, warm and very capable of solving problems. Dealing with robo-chats and not-my-job customer service everywhere on the internet had turned me a little skeptical.”

“They hang in there to answer all kinds of questions. I’ve never felt pushed into something I didn’t need or deterred from downgrading a plan when I wanted to. They exude genuine good cheer and competence.”

“I can tell they really want me to succeed.”

“The instant help they provide is so relaxing.”

It’s tough to listen to complaints and challenges all day, but the most important thing any customer service rep can offer is kindness. 

Customers respond to real people, so your customer service team shouldn’t be perfect, but they should be more than nice

There are a couple of ways to quickly develop a connection with a customer that can get you on your way. 

Ask your customers their names. Research says this only happens 21% of the time, but it makes a big difference

Don’t let business standards get in the way of your CS team being human. Policy, formality and security are important, but it’s also important to let your customers know that they aren’t talking to robots.

A happy customer comes from working with a great customer service team, so put in the time to train and support your customer service team

Be patient

“They are available for you 24/7 and there are NO stupid questions.”

“She walked me through every step and stayed with me for over 3 hours as I learned to use the website, upload products, change the header, banner and category settings. The list goes on…she helped me with every and any question I had! She offered screenshots and links. She was very helpful! If it were not for her patience and help I would have quit.”

“I’m not good with technology and was having to learn basics while I tried to build my store. They were extremely patient and talked me through every step of setup. They sent directions, links to helpful articles, screenshots, and went out of their way to take care of any problems.”

Patience is a virtue most of us learned about as kids. But the pressures of daily life, trying to do more with less, and ambitious goals can strain the patience of even the most patient professionals. 

The easiest way to practice patience in customer service is to focus on one customer at a time. Give your full attention to what that one customer needs and answer their questions as best as you can before moving on to the next task. For more on how leaders build patience, take a look at this article.

Be smart

“Their chat team is by far the most thoroughly trained set of customer service reps I have ever worked with.”

“Chat is available 24/7 for Selz, and the person just understood what I meant about everything and could direct me in the right direction.”

“Provided answers to all my questions about the free version AND solved a weeks long process issue I had (not related to Selz) that will allow me to use Selz to simplify my customer’s experience and automate my workflow.”

When they reach out, more than half of your customers just want the right answer.

To have great customer service your business needs to anticipate the challenges that are facing your customers. Then, you also need to have comprehensive answers ready. This saves your customers’ time and makes the process easier for everyone involved.

Consistency is also important. Make sure all of your customer service reps have access to the same resources. During training, tell your team about your brand voice and how it might apply to their conversations. 

It’s better to say I don’t know than to give a wrong answer. No matter how capable your customer service team is, a great customer service team knows when to accelerate a problem that they can’t fix. It’s not possible to solve every problem immediately, so put a system in place to address bigger issues. After an escalation, remember to follow up and let customers know the timeline for a resolution so that they can adjust their expectations if necessary.

Ask any customer how to please them and they'll let you know they want to save time - so be fast.

Be fast

“Got everything sorted out in under 5 minutes.”

“Time is money and this client support has made me save precious time”

“She solved my questions almost instantly and even did a demo video for me.”

“Super fast, real people in customer chat, I get my answers and help when I need them. real time. Not having to wait for answers keeps my business going day to day.”

Some people don’t mind talking to a robot, but chatbot AI still can’t keep up with the pace of the human mind. 

Many customers want to speak to a human so that they can quickly share their problem and get a solution without going through multiple steps. Even the smallest extra step can feel huge when their business is on the line. 

If your customer can’t get a quick answer they are more likely to leave than come back later. This means more abandoned carts and less sales for your business.

So, how fast does your customer service team need to be? Really fast. 

Chat and Email

The average first response time for online chat is 48 seconds. Responding to email in 24-48 hours used to be an industry standard, but over 30% of customers expect an email response in an hour or less. 

Text 

Texting hasn’t always been a channel for customer service, but texting has become more common than phone calls with the rise in robot calls. 78% of US customers say that text is the best way to reach them. Expectations for response time are also high with text. 

Average response time for a text is 90 seconds, and a Google study says that most customers may take offense at text responses that take longer than 20 minutes.

Customers today expect 24/7 support, and this may be a stretch for many small businesses. Luckily, the same tech innovations that encourage this speed can also help you meet it. Remote customer services are gaining leverage worldwide. This article has some good tips on how to hire the right remote support for your business.

Great Customer service doesn't have to be in  person to be informative friendly and powerful

Great Customer Service Makes It Simple 

Having a great customer service team isn’t enough for that ideal happy customer. In fact, 67% of customers would rather help themselves than talk to someone, but they need the right resources.

Support and Help articles

Double-check that your website is easy to read. Make sure the instructions in your support documents are easy to follow. Post support articles that explain features directly after release. 

Pretend your business and profits are on the line. What does your business need? Is it easy to figure out, find and understand? If not, create content that helps.

Newsletters, blogs and other content

Create newsletters and blogs that can help prospective and current customers get the most out of your products. Anticipate troubleshooting issues and create FAQs for your niche. Share secrets or lesser known features that can help.

Keep up with news and events in your industry, and find ways to connect customers for lasting success.

How your customer sees things is just as important as how things are when you're trying to create a happy customer

Align Your Communication Channels with Your Customer Perception

The tricky thing about most tips for great customer service is that they seem like common sense. Simple in principle, tough in execution. It is easy to get what customers want. It is difficult to balance those high expectations with the practical needs of running a business.

The larger your business grows, the more complex it becomes. This often leads to some specialization so that your business can continue to run effectively. Not all team members will have the same access to important information. That can impact your customer service team’s ability to answer questions.

Another example, while your business may offer customer service in many different channels (email, chat, phone, webinars, social media…) your customer will expect consistent communication, and for the conversations on each channel to connect back to them as an individual. 

I think this is worth repeating. Look at every process from your customers’ point of view. 

Then, make changes that will make your customers happy. That is easier said than done, but you can make it happen with some planning. 

Be as transparent as you can

Make sure there are regular meetings to share new updates with everyone you can in your business. A need-to-know system might have worked in the past, but in today’s business climate these limits can affect productivity and service. 

Make sure you have a system in place to update your customer service team on any changes and share supporting articles and images as soon as you can. Anticipate the problems that your customer service team might have to address, and provide them great solutions before a small issue gets out of control.

Use social media effectively for great customer service

If you want a happy customer, invest some time in social media. Show appreciation for any likes or shares from customers about your brand. Find ways to include your customer feedback in your content, and show them the value of their input. 

Negative comments will happen with any social media account. Again, customers will not expect your business or brand to be perfect, but they will be watching closely to see how your business responds to adversity or criticism. Respect and kindness will always be the best route to take.

Asking for feedback improves customer perception of your business, it lets them know you care about their opinion

Ask for Feedback from Happy and Unhappy Customers

Analytics can give your business more than sales and traffic numbers. Pay attention to your data to see what your customers respond to, and what new features or content isn’t meeting their expectations.

Data helps you see the gaps and challenges in your customer journey. You can use that information to shore up your customer service team.

Track analytics

If you understand how your customers engage with your products, you can learn what your ideal customers are truly interested in. Data can give you a sense of what made them convert and how to connect. This data can help you identify trends and gaps and refine your strategy to increase conversions. 

Ask questions

Create a consistent plan for surveying your current customers, as well as customers who have tried your products and didn’t come back. Their feedback is the most valuable information your business can have. If you put that insight to good use, you can make every customer a happy customer.

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.