5 Customer Service Best Practices that Prevent Churn and Increase Retention

Our top 5 customer service best practices agents can use to build loyalty.

Zight | November 01, 2018 | 5 min read time

Article Last Updated: September 15, 2023

5 Customer Service Best Practices that Prevent Churn and Increase Retention

Customer service best practices shouldn’t be an afterthought, they should be the center of your customer experience. Because if you don’t know how to provide great service and consistently making mistakes when communicating with customers, they probably won’t stick around for long. According to strategist Esteban Kolsky, 67% of consumers say bad experiences were the reason they switched to another service provider. But losing customers is just the beginning…
Kolsky also said that 13% of unhappy customers will tell 15 or more people about their negative experience with your company. The math makes the importance of great support experiences clear:

  • 100 unhappy customers x 13% who share their experience x 15 people each = 195 potential future customers lost.
  • If you know your customer support services aren’t as good as they could be, now is the time to improve them.
  • Because if you do, Kolsky points out that 72% of happy customers will tell 6 or more people about their positive experiences.
  • Out of 100, that’s 432 potential new customers.

Read on to discover 5 customer care best practices you can begin implementing today.

5 Customer Service Best Practices

1. Define Your Customer Service Value Proposition

Setting service standards and internal best practices helps your support agents provide a consistent experience, regardless of their department or the customer issues they’re dealing with.

To establish these standards, we recommend developing a customer service value proposition. Here are a few ways to approach it:

  • Figure out how your product fits into your customer’s big picture – their needs, desires, and ultimate goals.
  • Identify sales opportunities throughout the support journey and encourage agents to introduce or upsell products appropriately.
  • Collect data about your customers and their behavior to test new strategies and measure the impact.

2. Hire Awesome Customer Support Agents

Hiring excellent customer service agents isn’t optional, it’s imperative. They’re sometimes the first and only personal interaction a customer will have with your company. If they’re not exceptional, they could screw up the entire customer support workflow. First impressions are critical to customer retention. New Voice Media reported that after just a single negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with you again.

Get the right people on your team by:

  • Guaranteeing a competitive salary.
  • Offering an attractive benefits package.
  • Incentivizing agents with appealing rewards.
  • Providing a clear ladder to promotion (to encourage agents to continually outperform one another).

3. Identify the Key Customer Service Skills Every Agent Should Possess

Not every agent has the right customer service skills to provide a high-quality experience. But they should if you want to fully embrace customer care best practices.

Some skills your agents should possess include:

  • In-depth knowledge of your product so they can find solutions quickly.
  • Active listening to empathize with the customer and truly understand their issues.
  • And persuasion skills to encourage customers to stay with your company, use the solution you provide, and potentially purchase more of your products or services.

4. Provide an Omnichannel Customer Service Experience

Modern customer support best practices demand you brand omnipresence. And more than just “being seen” everywhere, you have to allow customers to contact you from anywhere. A 2013 study from Zendesk found that 37% of customers “expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative regardless of which channel they use.”

Zendesk also reported that only 7% of customers are “extremely satisfied that brands provide a seamless, integrated, and consistent customer service experience across channels.” This means customers should be able to reach you by phone, email, social media, and even in-person. But a desktop experience isn’t enough to satisfy customer demands…

Your website and all of your customer support materials, from FAQs to live chats, should be optimized for mobile users. Software Advice discovered that “63% of U.S. adults use mobile devices at least several times per month to seek customer support” while at the same time “90% have had poor experiences seeking customer support on mobile.”

Not good. To remain competitive, retain customers, and provide an outstanding experience, you must have a responsive website design that allows customers to reach out on any device.

5. Respond to Customer Requests ASAP

Not only do customers expect to reach you from anywhere, but they also want their questions answered as quickly as possible. After surveying over 1,200 consumers, Toister Performance Solutions recommends responding to customer requests within 1 hour, which will satisfy 89% of all customers. That goes for email, Facebook, and Twitter. But most companies don’t even come close to responding that quickly.

Super Office found that 62% of companies don’t answer customer service emails and if they do, it takes 12 hours and 10 minutes on average to respond. That’s just dismal service.

There are a number of things you can do to improve your response times:

  • Use AI, like chatbots, to respond to simple customer queries.
  • Create a robust knowledge base.
  • And develop a process whereby agents know the type of queries they’re responsible for answering.

[Bonus] Customer Service Best Practice: Communicate Visually

When a customer service agent finally does respond to customer requests, they usually end up writing out one answer after another. And if the customer finds their explanations confusing, the agent has to type out yet another long response trying desperately to clarify. But words aren’t the only form of communication; in fact, they’re becoming increasingly obsolete.

WebDAM compiled a bunch of fascinating statistics that suggest visual communication is the way of the future:

  • The average SAT reading score was at a record low in 2014.
  • “Visual IQ” is rising faster than any other form of IQ.
  • You have 8 seconds before the average person becomes distracted.
  • People only remember 20% of what they read if it doesn’t include visuals.

If your customer support team mostly relies on text-based communication, your customers are likely having a harder time understanding answers, implementing solutions, and feeling good about their experience.

Here are a few things you can do to change that:

  • Capture and share screenshots to supplement text responses.
  • Annotate, highlight, and draw on captured images to clearly demonstrate what customers should do to solve their issue.
  • Create short GIFs that walk through a process step-by-step so they can read your directions and see how it’s done simultaneously.
  • And if you want to go the extra mile, record a quick video with webcam answering their questions, greeting them, apologizing, or giving a farewell.

To get started communicating visually, look no further than Zight (formerly CloudApp).

Zight (formerly CloudApp) brings an annotated screenshot tool, GIF creator, and screen recorder to the cloud in an easy-to-use, enterprise-grade app so you can quickly create and share visual content.

We help customer support teams:

  • Easily create support materials and tutorials
  • Optimize customer support workflows
  • Provide customers with detailed answers and close Zendesk tickets faster
  • Improve your team’s CSAT scores
  • Track bugs and document problems
  • Improve customer support initiatives

Learn more about Zight (formerly CloudApp) for Customer Support here.

Ready to chat with us about how to save time, money and help your team communicate better?