How to Deliver Transcendent Customer Service in 3 Simple Steps

Let's face it: Nobody wakes up hoping for the chance to contact customer service. That conversation only takes place after something has gone wrong. But an agent can get the customer's day back on track in a hurry with the right amount of care and concern.

Companies have consistently shown they can ease frustrations and build relationships simply by supporting customers in times of need. In Salesforce's latest "State of the Connected Customer" report, 88 percent of respondents said the experience a company provides is as valuable as its product or services. Similarly, the 2021 Achieving Customer Amazement Survey showed a poor customer service interaction will send 83 percent of consumers into the arms of competitors.

There's clearly significant value in avoiding those negative interactions. In a recent survey of 300 information security and information technology executives and directors by Gartner Peer Insights for Fusion Connect, nearly a quarter said they would pay whatever amount is needed to ensure better customer service. Overall, 91 percent of respondents said they'd pay more per year to achieve it.

That isn't necessary, though. Small investments in your approach, your availability, and your assessments can lead to an astonishing level of service and help your customers' day go a bit more smoothly, and these three simple steps can help you get there:

1. Show you understand the issue.

Relationships are often built on trust and understanding. The same is true in customer service, as you must recognize the issue and convey that you'll take steps toward making it right.

Begin all interactions by showing empathy for the customer and offering assurance you'll find a resolution. Then, listen and identify the extent of the problem. If you don't, it could result in a poor experience: You'll either end up asking customers to repeat themselves or you'll suggest a solution that doesn't work.

Once you diagnose the issue and present the answer, confirm the customer isn't experiencing additional problems, retrace the steps you took in case it pops up again, and point out any self-help steps they can follow in the future.

Sixty-three percent of respondents to the Gartner survey would consider switching business providers if they had to make multiple requests for the same support need. So, preventing the obstacle from returning is crucial to the interaction. You can stop customers from ever considering that option with an approach that surpasses their expectations.

2. Adapt to the modern digital age.

Customers no longer simply pick up a phone once they encounter a problem. There are now plenty of text, automated, app-based, and social media channels they can use to let you know about their issues. Although you don't need to support every platform, you must provide the same level of service regardless of how your customers reach out. That flexibility is another way you demonstrate you care about offering excellent customer service in the digital age. The Gartner survey found that 55 percent of respondents listed having support available via multiple channels as a reason they're emotionally connected to a business, and 25 percent said the most important part of their experience is reaching out when and how they want.

Regardless of the channel, traditional contact center processes still can help you be on top of your game. Follow a guided workflow if you encounter an unfamiliar problem and don't be afraid to turn to a more experienced teammate if you're coming up empty. A warm handoff (when you remain in the discussion for a time before letting a colleague take over0 helps customers feel respected and valued. After all, 52 PERCENT of those surveyed by Gartner would consider switching business providers if they're consistently passed from one agent to another.

3. Get the best out of your team.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in remote work environments led to significant changes in how we recruit customer service agents. We're no longer limited by geography and have brought in some of the most engaging and personable service-minded people from around the country.

There's more to providing excellent service than an engaging personality, however. You must consistently train your team members on their soft skills, such as listening, communication, and intuition, and provide them with the tools and resources that will help them grow. As customer-facing employees, they're among the more accessible representatives of your company, so their success has an outsized impact on everyone's reputation.

This is where your customers can help. Seek feedback that will enhance your best practices and strengthen your approach. Surveys aren't revolutionary, but they're a valuable way to gauge customer sentiment. Review how your agents handle customer interactions and use customer responses as a learning opportunity for your team. Let your team share what it thinks is working and what isn't.

Remember, you're not merely trying to satisfy your customers. You're trying to dazzle them. Why not go the extra mile?

Quality customer service isn't just about making a quick fix. It's about providing reliable solutions and support in times of great need. With the right attitude, widespread access, and continued advancement, you can exceed your customers' expectations, foster unwavering loyalty, and demonstrate the value your company provides.

Rod Brownridge is senior vice president of customer success at Fusion Connect.