Customer service excellence: it’s all in the details

With 89% of companies expected to compete on customer experience, how do you differentiate your brand? The answer, it seems, lies in the details. As far as customer care is concerned, it’s the little things that make the difference.

All too often, customers are viewed as an abstract concept. It’s easy to view a customer base as a bulk of monolithic companies, or as a series of faceless entries in a database. In reality, of course, each of those database entries is connected to a real human, with real pain-points and real emotions.

And these real people value authenticity in the customer service you deliver. They don’t want to be treated as a monolith, or an unknown.  Which is precisely where small customer service details can distinguish your brand.


Be proactive and anticipate their needs

First, let’s start with proactivity.

If done correctly, your whole digital presence is designed to be inviting and accessible. This allows customers to make the first move and reach out to you with minimal effort. But increasingly, customers want you to close the distance. And this requires a proactive approach to customer care.

Proactive customer service is about recognising opportunities to solve issues before they become problems. In fact, 70% of customers have a more favourable view of brands that send proactive customer service notifications.

Customer service excellence comes from your ability to be there the exact moment your customer needs help. Not too soon, where your proactive outreach may come across as pushy or invasive. Not too late, when the customer has already experienced frustration. Rather, the best brands experiment to find the ‘Goldilocks zone’ of proactive engagement.

For example, you might keep track of how a customer uses your site. If they click straight through to the FAQ, send a chat request asking if they have any questions. Or, a customer might hit a 404 page. This would be a great time to send a chat message asking what they’re looking for and whether you can help.

It’s these small, attentive customer service details that go a long way.


Recognise them

Recognising your customers means adding personalised touches into their service. It means using the customer’s name, referencing past purchases, and recommending products tailored to them.

In fact, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognises them. That is, uses their name, recommends options based on demographic or other key data, or knows their service history.

So, if you don’t already have a customer’s name, ask for it. If they provide it, use it. Ask them how their experience with the last product they bought is going. In a live chat session, for instance, you can use chat history and CRM integration to pull information into the chat and tailor the interaction around the customer’s data.

Failing at basic customer service details implies that you’ve failed to invest in customer care. The days when online personalisation was a novelty are gone. Increasingly, customers expect digital brands to have the right technology tools to deliver a smooth, tailored experience. And even a simple level of recognition can help you meet those expectations.


Celebrate milestones

Celebrating customer milestones humanises your brand. That might be a birthday, a usage achievement, an acquisition “anniversary”, or any other significant occasion. Marking these milestones can help make customers feel closer (and therefore more loyal) to your brand.

For example, birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate than promotional email. Sending birthday wishes isn’t suited to every industry, of course, but there are always other customer service details you can use.

A software company might send a personalised usage chart to customers a month after onboarding, for instance. This could show key statistics on the most-used features, performance metrics, and tips for optimisation. Or, for a physical example, take mortgage providers that send “kits” to new homebuyers with essentials like teabags, biscuits, and DIY tools.

The point is to use customer details to connect in thoughtful, meaningful ways. And, with the clever automation tools and monitoring systems at your disposal, there’s little excuse to miss valuable opportunities to connect.


Follow up

As a brand, your duty of care doesn’t end once an interaction has wound down. Following up is another small but essential detail that differentiates your service.

By following up, you demonstrate that you care about the customer’s experience even after you’ve received their payment. In turn, this helps to build trust.

Here, however, there’s a fine line to tread between going the extra mile and simply being ‘extra’. While you should always ensure customer satisfaction, you should do so without a deluge of unnecessary communication.

So, this is where discernment should come into play. If, for example, you had only a quick web chat with a customer and answered an FAQ, there’s no real need to then email them in two weeks’ time asking if their issue is resolved. It’s enough to provide them with a chat transcript, so they have a handy record of getting in touch. (As well as easy access to any instructions you shared.)

If, though, a customer has had to open a ticket to resolve an ongoing problem, a follow-up is essential. Similarly, if a customer has recently signed up to your service, following up with them can help with any teething problems or concerns. And, of course, there’s the matter of ongoing follow-ups in the form of acquiring customer feedback.

Again, finding the ‘Goldilocks zone’ is key to balancing adequate customer care against annoyance. If you’re following up every minor interaction, you’re doing it wrong. If you never follow up with any interaction, you’re hindering your chances of customer success. So, map out your lifecycle communications and apply some strategy.


Turning customer service details to competitive advantage

In the age of the customer, everyone is thinking about how to boost their customer service offering. And ultimately, differentiating yourself doesn’t mean adding another gimmick.

Rather, it’s about the little details; the extra things you can do to make a customer interaction that bit smoother.

So, when it comes to taking a great customer experience and pushing it into the realms of customer service excellence, it all lies in the details.


Useful links

One lump or two: knowing your customers has never been easier

Beyond the [X]: exploring the post-chat process

25 ways to give bad customer service