The 5 Pillars of a Good Customer Service Team

The 5 Pillars of a Good Customer Service Team

Good customer service is essential to the success of every business. It builds trust among your client base and encourages repeat business. Customers want to feel heard—and they’re often willing to pay more for a service or product if they feel taken care of.

This is why it’s essential to find the right professionals to establish the best customer service experience. Great customer service requires a certain philosophy and a willingness to go the extra mile for the client. Success largely relies on soft skills that can be difficult to teach, which is why it can be beneficial to look for independent professionals who offer years of experience.

In this guide, we’ll go over some of the qualities that your customer service team should have in order to satisfy your clients and ultimately increase your bottom line. We’ll also give you some tips for improving your own business’s customer service practices.

What is customer service?

Customer service is the way in which service professionals interact with and meet the needs of current and potential customers. It involves things like answering client questions, solving their problems, opening lines of communication, and generally making it easy and enjoyable to do business with your company.

5 Pillars of Good Customer Service

What are the pillars of good customer service?

In the next few sections, we’ll introduce you to a few of the most important qualities of exceptional customer service. Keep in mind that customer service is an overarching concept to describe every aspect of a client’s interaction with a business. This list is only a portion of everything involved in customer service.

1. Channel variety

Different customers have different preferences for reaching your company. Clients will contact you in the manner that's most convenient for them. It's important that you give them a variety of choices.

Typically, clients also want to receive responses in the same manner in which they contacted you. If a client calls you, they want a call back. Someone who comes into your business to speak with a representative values a personal touch.

Here are a few of the most common channels for clients to get in touch with you.

  • Social media. Many customers prefer to reach out to businesses on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook because it’s quick and convenient. If your business has these pages, check them for comments, questions, and complaints regularly. Customers expect comments made on social media to be addressed immediately, so it may make sense to have a person or team dedicated to monitoring this channel.
  • Live chat. Having live chat on your website is a great way to help customers get answers quickly (in real time). You can have someone run your chat or you can build an automated chatbot using an AI-based service, which can recognize and respond to the words and phrases that a client uses. You can also use chatbots to answer direct messages on social media sites like Facebook Messenger.
  • Email. You should always have a direct email set up specifically for consumer inquiries. These emails should be kept separate so they don’t get lost or neglected. Make sure this address is prominently displayed on your website.
  • Phone calls. Business phone systems like Ooma and RingCentral can take calls, provide answers to basic questions, or transfer callers to departments that can help them. However, make sure it’s not too difficult for clients to get through to a team member or they could get annoyed.
  • Self-service. Some consumers want to answer their own questions. Include a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section on your website. You can also create a community forum on your website where visitors can post inquiries to be answered by other clients.
  • Omnichannel. Omnichannel customer service tools like Zendesk allow you to seamlessly move conversations from one platform to another. For instance, if a customer is communicating with you over Facebook Messenger, but you need to verify their account information, you can send them a link to a more secure forum (like your business’s own application or platform). The customer’s information and query are stored so you can pick up the conversation right where you left off at another time or via another channel.

2. A proactive customer service team

A great customer service team looks for ways to meet their customers’ needs before their clients even tell them what those needs are. This is more practical than it sounds.

Good customer service representatives (CSRs) listen closely to every client query for insight into how they can help. For example, let’s say a prospective client calls your flower shop to see if you can make a delivery on the next day. During the conversation, the customer mentions that the recipient has several cats. At that point, a skilled CSR will suggest flowers that are nontoxic to pets or let the customer know about non-floral items, like chocolates, that can be sent instead.

Below are some key qualities you’ll find in a proactive customer service representative:

  • Willing to go the extra mile. An adequate CSR simply solves a user’s problem. An excellent CSR listens to the customer, asks penetrating questions to get to the root of their issue, and doesn’t mind spending a little extra time to make sure the client gets what they need.
  • Empathetic. Sometimes, customers just want to know that you understand how they feel, especially when they’re upset or frustrated. Great customer service means putting judgment aside and acknowledging a client’s feelings.
  • Patient. Needless to say, some customers will be difficult to handle and make unreasonable requests of your team. As a result, they need to be patient enough to offer a universal level of care regardless of how a client approaches the interaction or what their expectations are.
  • Responsive. Client’s expect their queries answered in a timely manner. It’s important that CSRs are proactive and able to get back to customers as quickly as possible.
  • Positive. A good attitude and positive wording can help shape the way a customer views an interaction. Let’s say a client calls your shoe store to buy a pair of sneakers. Your store is out of the shoes and won’t get any more until next month. You can either say, “I’m sorry, we’re out of those shoes,” or “Great, we can send those to you at the beginning of next month.” The two phrases mean the same thing but the latter one provides the client with a solution to their problem and frames the conversation in a positive way.

3. A focus on customer satisfaction

The core goal of customer service is to satisfy the client. High levels of customer satisfaction usually mean repeat business. Your support team should always keep this in mind. Some key strategies to consider include:

  • Focus on creating loyal customers. In addition to meeting their needs, little things like remembering customer names and small details about them can go a long way toward making them feel welcome and appreciated. For example, if a client is an avid dog lover, you might greet her by saying something like, “Mrs. Peterson, it's wonderful to see you. How is your poodle?” You can also try sending holiday or special occasion emails.
  • Training to avoid poor customer service. Quality training programs can be great for improving a business’s customer service. For example, training can teach team members how to demonstrate emotional intelligence. This might include showing empathy to help diffuse customer complaints. Training can also help customer service agents understand their digital tone, whether over the phone, through email, or over social media. Team members need to know how to get customers what they need and how to react in certain situations.
  • Extra attention for new customers. New clients need extra care. They may not be familiar with the way everything works. They’ll remember and be grateful that you took extra time to show them the ropes.

4. Usage of an internal and external knowledge base

Knowledge bases are collections of useful information about a business. External knowledge bases are for customers or potential customers, while internal knowledge bases exist for the benefit of your team. Both help to improve customer service.

Some knowledge bases you’ll want your customer service team to have readily available include:

  • Customer FAQ. Customer FAQ are lists of answers to frequent consumer questions, customer issues, and concerns that clients have about a service. The internal customer FAQ may provide service, technical, or process knowledge the customer service agent can use to answer inquiries or address concerns, while an external list may provide basic information directly to customers.
  • Onboarding or training FAQ. Training FAQ are created directly for your customer service team to help speed up the onboarding process.
  • Customer service tips. This internal base of knowledge consists of company guides, documents, mission statements, and anything else that gives workers information they can use to respond to client requests.
  • External pages with information for customers. These can be anything that your customer service team can direct clients to in regards to their questions. Examples include web pages, blogs, video content, and product guides.

5. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools

A good customer relationship management system can be instrumental in improving the customer experience.

CRM software serves as a central repository of all client information and allows departments across the organization to access and add to this information. A CRM tool can store and organize information like a customer’s demographic information, past purchases, and contact with your business. Each department can also use this information to create customer relation strategies that are personalized for their consumers.

Features you’ll want in your CRM include:

  • Contact management. Your CRM holds all the contact information for your business’s current and prospective clients. This lets you reach out to your customers to answer their questions, provide special offers, and gather feedback.
  • Tracking interactions. Your CRM keeps track of every interaction that a customer has with your company. Among other things, this helps you notify them with product or sales event information that they’ve demonstrated interest in.
  • Scheduling and reminders. This feature lets you reach out to clients with important updates regarding things like new products or services or offerings related to their purchase history. Let’s say you own a mattress company. Your CRM could send a reminder to a customer who made a purchase eight years ago, letting them know that their mattress may be nearing the end of its life span and they should consider buying a new one.

Provide great customer service today

Customer service is about more than meeting customer expectations. Excellent customer service skills require an in-depth understanding of all of your clients’ needs and a firm commitment to meeting those needs.

Today’s consumers demand customer interactions that are fast, convenient, and personalized. If you can check off all of these boxes, you’ll give your business great odds for creating a loyal and profitable client base.

If you need to hire customer service representatives to increase customer satisfaction and drive sales for your business, Upwork has you covered. We give you access to highly skilled remote customer service agents from all over the world. We’ll even help you narrow your search to find the best talent for your specific company.


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The 5 Pillars of a Good Customer Service Team
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