Above-And-Beyond Customer Service Tips From A to Z
More than 30 Great Customer Service Practices To Win Over Your Customers
By Erin Pearlman
Most of us have had a least one customer service experience that really blew us away. For some, it’s receiving handwritten thank you notes in the mail after a purchase, for others, it’s a great phone interaction. What can other businesses do to cultivate these positive impressions? I reached out to several CEOs and business owners for their best above-and-beyond customer service practices. Here were the best answers:
Add ‘Please’ & ‘Thank You’
The first thing we noticed when it comes to invoice payment terms is that being polite really matters. Business owners who say please or thank you on their invoices get paid 5% faster than those who do not. A simple ‘please pay your invoice within’ or ‘thank you for your business’ can make all the difference.
Matt Baker, VP of Strategy, FreshBooks
One of my goals for every single call is to make the customer laugh genuinely. You can try to build jokes off that later, but nothing breaks the ice like being personable enough to make someone laugh.
Steven Benson, Founder & CEO, Badger Maps
Create A Community
The human element is so very important to medical care. We want our patients to know they aren’t alone and that there’s no shame in fighting acne. We built an intimate members-only portal where patients share digital “postcards.” Patients post progress photos and provide mini skin updates, while others can send virtual hearts, hugs, or sparkles of encouragement.
David Lortscher, CEO & Founder, Curology
Don’t Wait for Them To Come To You
Actively seek out unhappy customers on sites other than social media like BizRate and Google Reviews. We have a dedicated customer service team that calls these customers to right the wrong. From misconceptions to mistakes, we want to do more than tell customers we’re here for support, we want to show them.
Dave Carmany, CEO & Founder, OnlineLabels.com
Do Whatever It Takes
One customer knew that a bilingual personalized book would make the perfect gift for her Spanish-speaking friend’s baby shower but was unsure about the customization. I offered to create a gift certificate (although we don’t sell them) and sent it along with bookmarks via Priority Mail to ensure it would arrive in time for the shower.
Jill Barletti, Author & Founder, Snowflake Stories
During August and September 2017, we offered unlimited cell phone service to our customers in areas affected by natural disasters. So far, after Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria, we have helped more than 300,000 customers and have contributed more than $5 million in free phone service.
Issa Asad, CEO, Q Link Wireless
Ensure Customers Know How to Reach You
We put our contact information front and center, on our website and on ticket sale pages, to make it easy for prospects and customers to get in touch with us.
Kareem Taylor, Co-Founder, Encounter Mountain Retreat
One of the best techniques we have found to win a customer’s heart is in following up with them after doing business together. Follow-up is critical because remembering to be responsive can significantly impact sales and the business. The strategy we use is calendaring and engaged leadership. We also cross-share outbound lists as to ensure that if a lead is missed by one rep, we have other teams over the course of a month following up until clients can be reached and outstanding questions answered. It makes everyone feel like their needs are being attended to and our customers really appreciate the check in!
Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com
Get Their Customers Talking About You
I can tell you unequivocally the best way to win a customer’s heart and trust in the B2B space is to have your customers’ customer sing your praises. Whether you are a fisher providing great fish to a restaurant or a company providing top-notch customer service, business owners and managers thrive on feedback from their customers regarding their vendors. If you focus on making your customer look good, you will win their heart and trust every time.
Nathan Strum, CEO, Abby Connect
Highlight Special Occasions
For B2C, a simple call on their birthday to wish them a Happy Birthday goes a long way and it will help you standout from the crowd. Get a CRM tool to keep track and pick-up the phone and wish them well on their important day.
Tom La Vecchia, Founder and President, X Factor Media
Invest In Their Success
One of the ways we go above and beyond for our customers is to send them media opportunities when we see a good fit for their business. We also invite our customers to join us in our media opportunities, giving them free media exposure. When your customers know that you care about every facet of their success, the loyalty dividends abound.
Isaac Gurary, CEO, NoFraud
Join Your Customers On Their Platform of Choice
Apart from email, LiveChat and ticketing systems, we get a lot of customer queries on Facebook and Twitter. Instead of asking the customer to connect with us via email or LiveChat, our support engineers cater to our customers’ queries on the channel they’ve approached us through. Many customers have lauded this approach of ours.
Junaid Mohsin, Senior Marketing Manager, Ivacy
Keep it Simple
My customer service “hack” is really simple — I add my clients on LinkedIn. It shows them we are real people and promotes transparency. This small gesture creates a feeling of trust and comfort.
David Greenberg, President, Parliament Tutors
Listen for Clues
Clients reveal what delights them if you listen for it. For example, I brought candy to share with a team. The caramels happened to be my client’s favorites. I recorded the preference and each time I came back, I brought those caramels. It created an anticipation of delight. Small delights give clients confidence that bigger things will be handled with their best interests in mind as well.
Marilyn Suttle, CEO, Suttle Enterprises, LLC
Look at the World From Their Point of View
In our firm, it’s not ‘customer service’ — we call it ‘customer care.’ That comes down to listening to our clients and their needs, seeing them as real people not just cogs in a corporate machine, then doing what we can to recognize those needs. It can be little things like providing nut-free snacks in a meeting with a client we know has a nut allergy.
We coach taking the perspective of someone else and seeing the world from their point of view. Building empathy with our clients and acting on it has led to long-term client retention and a much more stable business with repeat customers.
Rob Volpe, CEO, Ignite 360
Make a Habit of Exceeding Expectations
Making ‘going the extra mile’ an integral part of the way we do business has set us apart, especially in an industry where people have a preconceived notion of what they’ll get. We encourage our pest control technicians to find at least one way to go above and beyond each day, from helping a homeowner carry in groceries to clearing low branches.
One of the best things that we’ve seen as a result is that customers look forward to seeing “their guy” show up for regular service. Some of our most loyal customers rely on us year after year because they know that our technicians aren’t just professional and knowledgeable, but they actually care about them and their families.
Donnie Shelton, Owner, Triangle Pest Control
Nurture Customer Relationships
The main philosophy is to genuinely care. It’s not a matter of how fast you can get off the phone with a particular customer but why you didn’t spend more time building a relationship. This type of relationship building is everything — it goes beyond any product and straight to the genuine “heart” of a company.
It does require more effort, time and money to build a customer care department based these principles, but the expenditure is well worth it due to the increased quality of life everyone experiences, leading to a tenacious loyalty cementing a brand and story that people want to be a part of.
Martin Regueiro, Co-Founder, PangeaBed
Offer Sincere Thanks
To connect with one of our target demographics (grandmothers), we included a personalized thank you card designed and colored by the founder’s 6-year-old niece. Every card was unique and we indicated on the piece who the message was from. We received calls and emails thanking us, and it helped boost the company’s rating (and related sales) on Amazon.
Linda Parry Murphy, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Product Launchers
Present All The Information
One of our company’s core values is open and honest communication. One way that we practice this value is by providing transparent billing for our clients. We submit a detailed task breakdown with each invoice. This way, our clients can see the hours spent by each role and the tasks that were performed. Clients truly appreciate this insight, as it allows them to play a more active role in managing their project and also builds trust — they know we never simply pull a number out of thin air.
Puneet Gangal, CEO & Founder, Aciron Consulting, Inc.
Prioritize the Customer
‘Help your customer, help your coworker, do your job’ is our ladder of priorities. It reminds our support team to always put the customer first and reassures them, even with their other numerous work responsibilities, they will never be reprimanded for doing so. The next priority is helping your coworker, because by doing that, you are most likely also helping a customer. Then do your job.”
Amy Downs, Chief Customer Success and Happiness Officer, Lifesize
Quit Selling, Start Serving
The key to your client’s heart is to keep them educated on why this special something is important and of advantage to them. The answer to that question may already be on another blog, but you just saved them a lot of time researching it. You also established yourself as the expert your clients have come to trust.
Are you a serviced-based entrepreneur who doesn’t want to give away your bread and butter? Give them tips on how to do it and then offer your expert fee-based help. DIYers will always look to do it themselves, but most people don’t want to deal with the hassle of learning how to do it right and will hire you.
Yvonne Heimann, CEO, Ask Yvi
Recognize Returning Customers
Last year, we wanted to take our motto of “Delivering Happiness” a bit further and show our customers how much they mean to us. We sent out Christmas cards and candy canes to our ‘brand advocates.’ We got lots of positive feedback from the campaign and it really made our customers smile!
Adam Gore, Founder & Managing Director, Find Me A Gift
Solicit and Respond To Feedback
It sounds so simple, but if more organizations took time to read and respond to feedback, or to do it in a customer-friendly way, there would be a lot less bad customer service in the world. If any customers weren’t happy, I ensured their feedback was followed up on and dealt with. Crucially, I made the whole process customer-friendly. I found it delivered a genuine, permanent, measurable increase in customer satisfaction — which corresponded to an increase in our bottom line.
Guy Letts, Founder and CEO, CustomerSure
Surprising our customers with unexpected acts of kindness is something that has helped keep our customers loyal. We send dog bones out to our homeowners with pets along with a thank you card. Not only is this very cheap, but it lets our customers know that we are listening and that we care. We follow up with an email asking if they received the gift along with a link to our Yelp page.
This simple act has gotten us press, word of mouth, and even a mention on the radio.
Gene Caballero, Co-Founder, GreenPal
Track Digital Body Language
Too many businesses are focused on transactions, and as a result, the customer experience online is often terrible. If you want to win your customers’ hearts, you need to determine their mindset and intent when they visit your site or app, and build a holistic view of their experience so that you truly understand how to win their loyalty.
This starts by listening to your customers’ digital body language and responding accordingly. By gathering rich data and analyzing this using experience analytics tools, you can uncover insights that can help your team deliver superior digital experiences that lead to better business outcomes.
Use Your Product Every Day
The best long-term strategy you can implement to keep your customers happy is to use your product every day. It sounds obvious, but many CEOs don’t follow this advice, and I’d argue that there’s no single better way to understand your customers. By using your own product, you’ll quickly understand what’s working, what is causing pain or frustration, and what new services or tools could be implemented to make your customer’s experience even better.
David Kalt, CEO & Founder, Reverb.com
Understand Your Customer
Great customer service means making the effort to understand what your customers really want. This will be unique to everyone that encounters your business — high-touch, low-touch, custom or standard, being attentive to their needs will bring them back every time. This has been key to the success of Foodee — it was important that we identify early on what not only the employees wanted, but also what the office managers needed and what the restaurants would benefit from. It gets more complicated when you have multiple stakeholders in a customer service experience, but taking the time to truly understand the problem you are solving for each party can make the difference.
Ryan Spong, Co-Founder & CEO, Foodee
Value Long-Term Relationships Over Short-Term Ones
Don’t try to sell a product or service you know isn’t the right fit for the customer. The worst thing we can do as a business is over-promise and under-deliver, so if we aren’t an expert at something, we won’t do it. Help them find someone who can meet their needs instead. Transparency is important, so keep everything simple and straight-forward, with no hidden costs.
Georgia Rittenberg, President, ComputerCare
Work In Videos
Use video. Put a face to your name by welcoming new customers with a personal message from their account manager, support rep, or your execs. Onboard new customers with personalized tutorials and walkthroughs that show exactly how they can use your solution. Quickly record a screen capture video to summarize new product features and how they can help a specific client. Update your customers on company news and product updates and share a video to celebrate a customer’s special moment or milestone.
Michael Litt, Co-Founder & CEO, Vidyard
‘X Out’ the Old Way of Selling
In a competitive market where brands try too hard to sell, I found giving your customers time to come to choose your quality and service on their own is important. I don’t shout about it on my website or when customers come by. Nobody likes to be sold to and nobody likes when opinions are forced on them.
I let my customers see everything, without saying a word about how great the quality or service is — that’s for them to see and decide. They are free to stay, free to go, and they stay and come back repeatedly to order more.
Tatyana, Founder, Artefact London
We make sure all employees live by our company motto: the answer is yes to any reasonable request. We let the customer contact us anyway they want (in-store, via phone, online, chat, etc.), ensure they always talk with someone knowledgeable, and that they’re taken care of, even after the in-store experience. We go above and beyond, even if it means losing money to keep a customer happy.
Jon Abt, Co-President, Abt Electronics
Zero In On What Customers Really Need
I believe that going the extra mile is not always to give the customer something they haven’t asked for. As a customer myself, I don’t particularly feel touched when I receive extra icing on my demand, promotion codes or candies with the bill don’t look genuine anymore.
We strive to give customers what they want swiftly and in a qualitative interaction: an honest answer from a real person, not a chatbot. We answer the fastest we can and, more importantly, we always keep them informed about the status of their request.
Michael Waltrowski, Founder & CEO, Jobtrip
Customer loyalty doesn’t come easily and you have to go above and beyond to get it. These brands have mastered the art of customer service in their field by doing more than just offering discounts. While not every tip above applies to you or your industry, there’s something to be said for trying something new. Could you customer service use a pick-me-up?
Some More Ideas…
I always encourage my employees to be respectful, charming and accommodating toward all of our customers. When they ask for service from us, we make use of several small gestures to gain their trust. These include leaving small notes with a happy smile on their receipt or any piece of paper that they get from us, giving them a discount for loyalty, prioritizing them at all times even when it isn’t very important, sparking small conversation to help them become comfortable and making sure that we are reachable.
Jason Cummins, CEO, All Hours Air
Give Out Perks
To sustain and maintain customer loyalty, surprise them and your broad market by use of gift certificates! Unlike discount coupons that are considered ho-hum, gift cards are regarded as cash. Constructing them is both an art and a science: once devised, costs are very low and distribution and when/what can be targeted.
Expect existing customers to love the concept, they’ll come back for more! Prospects, too, become at least lookers, so store traffic and sales grow.
Delight Your Customer
Our approach is grounded in deep empathy for the stress points of family travel. We take last-minute orders, meet families where they need us and when, and often offer a little something extra like ice cold water or complimentary toys. Our mission is to delight traveling families — something that goes well beyond showing up with a crib and a car seat.
Fran Maier, Co-Founder and CEO, Babierge
Show Customer Value
Customer service starts first with how employees are valued. Visualize what you want and need, and build a team that turns that vision into reality. I believe that it’s important to be able to visualize the future and find the best people to partner with to get there. The selection of each team member is critical and their onboarding is tantamount to the importance of their selection. Their ‘day one’ should be memorable and important not only to the new person but to the organization. Does your leadership team meet with each new employee to get to know each other reciprocally? How do you let people who work for you know that they are important every single day. When you take care of this — you take care of your customers.
Kimberly Rath, Chairman & Co-Founder, Talent Plus, Inc.
We live in a mobile-centric, on-demand world. Eliminate any unnecessary steps in the customer service process and your customers will love you for it. Creating a user experience and customer experience that fits into your customer’s life in the easiest way possible is the new measure of great customer service.
Desmond Griffin, CEO and Co-Founder, Glance Technologies
Be there to solve problems, not just answer questions. Think about what they ask and the intent of their ask, even if it’s not stated. And solve that potentially unstated problem.
Suyog, CEO & Co-Founder, Driftaway Coffee
Be their friend
Customers have different skill levels when it comes to technology. The challenge is to have efficient and educative customer support while simultaneously maintaining a friendly relationship. Our approach is similar to being that one friend who knows gadgets. Why do you like this guy? It’s simple — he can speak your language and explain complicated advances so you understand, and he will never make you feel ashamed because of your previous lack of knowledge.
David Monbaron, Founder, CopyTrans
Flatter and charm clients. Listen very closely to client’s desires and insecurities, both personal and business related. Then, follow up with solutions and customer service catered to each client’s specific wants and needs. A more customized (rather than generalized) experience turns customers into fans and evangelists. Over time, this also generates a lot of referrals.
Lexi Montgomery, CEO, Darling Web Design
Make the salesperson feel like a friend, not a stranger
Most retail experiences are seen as an interaction between a salesperson and a customer. We like to jump those roles — we do that by simply introducing ourselves with a handshake, offering our name, getting our customer’s name and addressing them by name so we don’t forget it. Most people don’t realize that the simple act of a handshake, human touch, is something many people don’t experience on a daily basis. Our customers love the feeling of buying from a friend and not being sold something by a stranger.
Joe Alexander, CEO/Founder, Nest Bedding
Be Consistent and Empower your staff
A big part of customer service means addressing any questions and concerns that come from guests. These days, that expands beyond the store and into social media. Our priority has always been to address issues immediately by empowering every team member — whether they are managing, clearing tables, answering the phone or responding to a social media comment — to do what it takes to make things right and to take care of that customer, no approval process necessary. At the end of the day, it comes down to treating every customer the way we would want to be treated!
Andre Vener, Partner, Dog Haus
Offer Individualized Client Care
Offering individualized client care that responds directly to a customer’s needs requires patience, dedication and empathy. Even when faced with a challenging client or several concerns at once, representatives should treat each individual as though they’re the first client of the day, demonstrating the same energy and enthusiasm to each customer.
Sharon Schweitzer, Founder, Access to Culture
Legacy is Greater than Currency
Don’t be afraid to tell customers the truth about what you can and cannot do. Focus on scaling your company, which requires a greater awareness of the impact of your brand. Be a valuable source of facts for your customers, respect your customers and tell the truth to your customers every time.
Vince Lefton, Co-Founder & CEO, Bulldog Adjusters
There is no special formula, just common sense. Treat the client as you would want to be treated not as another sale. The old adage do unto others works well here. Take the time to talk with as many as you can. Remember their names as best as you can and know their issues. We try to make each of our clients comfortable and at home, a part of our family.
Ron Cotsopoulos, Kobus Technologies
Provide an Experience
Companies should focus first on their business logistics and quality assurance to ensure you’re doing the best you can AND you have a prompt response team in place if the customer needs support. Once you have that in place, wow them with individualized attention. You’d be shocked at how far a personal email goes. Thank the customer for their business, follow up with the customer after their purchase, use their name in the email, include the name of the item they purchased, offer them a repeat customer discount, etc. Really go the extra mile to show the customer that you realize they could have gone anywhere and that you value their business and they’ll be loyal for life.
Kimberly Marek, Owner & CCO, 7 Charming Sisters
Apologize when something goes wrong
Many CEOs are happy to put their name on something when it’s going right, but not many are willing to hold up their hands and apologize to customers when something goes wrong. Whenever something goes wrong at Kayako — and I know we can do better — I will always make time to email our customers.
If we have any major issues, customers can expect me to apologize from my personal email address. I will explain exactly what went wrong, how we’re dealing with it, and when it will be fixed. The result? Customers love and thank us for this transparency. This is the service recovery paradox working at full force.
Varun Shoor, CEO, Kayako
Don’t keep your customers waiting
Reduce the response time as much as possible. If there’s no support/service staff available to deal with the customer at the moment, let the customer know when support will be available. Start by acknowledging that their email/query has been received and assure them that the necessary action will be taken as soon as possible.
Varun Shoor, CEO, Kayako
Be Memorable, Make a Memory
The most valuable space in retail is in the customer’s mind. You can own that by being truly memorable. Claim a personal trademark that is distinctive, different, and memorable. I find too many retailers wear black and blend into the background of their store, when they need to make a bold statement to make a memory. There is power for a retailer to create a distinctive personal trademark and claim that indelible space in the customer’s memory.
Pamela Danziger, Author, Shops that POP! 7 Steps to Extraordinary Success
Fast and Efficient
Make it your mission to provide a fast and efficient customer journey and ensure your customer’s experience with your brand’s website is an enjoyable one. Provide personal touches; create easy ways for your customers to get in touch online by promoting a ‘sign up’ service before they checkout. This way, if they do require your help, your response is fast — a business characteristic every customer values.
It’s the Small Things
We focus on personal attention. Each customer has unique needs and a story and we absolutely listen to them — like our customer who left a review stating they applied their screen protector upside down. We offered them a new screen protector because small gestures like this mean a lot toward making lifetime friends and advocates of our customers.
Joe Jaconi, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Tech Armor
See Them in Person
This may sound obvious, but in the digital age with GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts, B2B businesses should schedule on-site visits with their clients, even if they are out of town or far away from you. They will appreciate you coming out, as well as it’ll give you with the opportunity to better understand your clients’ needs as you will see their business firsthand.
How to break the ice
After getting permission from a parent, I’ll ask a child if they like monster trucks tow trains like the ones I sell, then I give them a business card.
Put Their Senses to Work
Imagine the bathrobe in your hotel closet being zebra or leopard not boring white, or the item on your pillow being something completely unexpected — a foreign coin, a flower, even a lottery ticket instead of the proverbial mint.
This happens at my favorite hotel, Hotel Monaco. It not only offers over-the-top service, but it provides a cacophony of sensory stimulation. Rooms are extremely colorful (always with fresh flowers), bathroom amenities range from a specially scented soap to a rubber duck, and it’s super pet-friendly.
Chip R. Bell, Keynote Speaker and Author
Build the Relationship from Day One
Our camps build relationships from the very first time someone comes and continue to build them through several different tactics. There are special touchpoints with customers to provide peace of mind and reassure them that their dog is having a great time at camp. We encourage our camps to do unexpected things to surprise and delight clients on a regular basis.
Christina Russell, President, Camp Bow Wow
Make complaints an opportunity to go above and beyond
Complaints are one of the biggest opportunities companies miss. Today, poor customer service experiences have become commonplace. There is nothing more refreshing than encountering a customer service representative who goes above and beyond to fix your problem. Customers will tell that story again and again. Customer service reps have the opportunity to convert unhappy customers into loyal customers. You can’t buy that kind of advertising.
Cheryl Goldsby, President, K-Factor
The human touch is powerful.
When my mother passed away, I had to call Fidelity to settle some paperwork. The first thing I heard on the other end of the phone was, ‘First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom.’ Was that essential to the transaction? No, but the Fidelity representative knew a critical piece of information about me and my situation. She channeled her humanity and turned an overwhelming and emotional process into a memorable customer service moment.
Mark Josephson, CEO, Bitly
Making Even More Dreams Come True
I combine desires into paintings, putting a client’s chosen vehicles in the background of their choice.
Give them something to remember you
While some customer queries are easy to resolve, there are a few that require more time and effort. When one customer of ours was facing a problem, we spent time debugging it, apologized for the inconvenience and extended the account by a year. In the end, that customer left contended and also gave us a good review on Trustpilot.
Provide A Personal Experience
Build a unique customer experience around each and every customer. Our clients are well-established enterprises who are now really strapping down on providing a personal experience. They see a noticeable change in their customers’ behavior and love the feedback they’re receiving. Their reviews and referrals are up, and the overall public perception of the companies have never been better.
Be creative and stand out from the crowd
I find that placing major thought into customer service practices is an excellent way for businesses to stand out from the crowd while establishing a strong and loyal client base.
Laura M.Cummins, Chief Creative Officer, Nine Dotz Consulting