critical success factors to providing exceptional customer service

Nowadays, great customer service is a must of any IT company and one of the main factors customers consider when choosing a service provider. How well the organization treats its customers makes direct impact on the overall customer satisfaction.

As a customer-centric company, our core value is our customers, and we do our best to satisfy their needs and provide high-quality service. In this article, our colleague, Anton Pelešev, IT team lead, shares ten critical success factors to providing exceptional customer service. Anton has identified service attributes important for our customers - and actually for any customer.

1. Timeliness: Customers expect that you answer their questions instantaneously and provide a solution to their problems in a reasonable timeframe. Time must be your priority in delivering an excellent service. When taking surveys on customer services, most customers complaints are related to solution/service delivery time.

2. Attitude: It is all about creating good relationship. Good relationship, both professional and personal, implies making the other party feel cared for. Act in a professional and respectful way to keep your customers satisfied. Build long term rapport based on a mutual understanding of expectations and goals for each party.

3. Empathy: Put yourself in customer shoes and be empathetic to their needs. It will calm down the most demanding and furious customers and make them feel heard. Sometimes being empathic means accepting undue blame — but keep this trick only for really critical situations.

4. Responsibility of every team member: Employees must take full responsibility for their project and any points of concern. In case you can’t fix things by yourself, then you must find someone more experienced to help. You must figure out the right answer without the customer getting bounced around.

5. Proactive approach: act like a forerunner. Excellent service is the point, when you can openly discuss with customers and talk through weaknesses — be it technical, interpersonal or procedural. This will make customers feel that you actually care about their success and that this promise isn’t only written on paper, but it is the way the customer and business work together. Don’t wait for problems to arise, take preventive measures actively to solve these problems upfront.

6. Documentation: When we are talking about technical support or the integration stage, clear and comprehensive documentation about the entire IT system is a critical source of information for the technical team and a cornerstone of excellent customer service. Documentation must be up to date and include relevant details about all the processes and organizational subsystems (incl., examples) so that every support or IT department specialist could quickly grasp the concept of how a particular IT component operates and solve the customer issue.

7. Active Listening: You have to listen first, then find a solution. If customers get a feeling that you listen to them and what they have to say, they will feel more convinced that you will come back with the right answer. Sometimes, if you don’t have enough information, you end up with the wrong answer and solution. As a result, customers get frustrated and angry. But it’s not only about listening and nodding, but about questioning and clarification. If customer`s problem is not clear, ask “why”— go deep into their problem. If still not clear—keep asking. Figuring out the root of customer’s requests might bring you to new, sometimes easier ways to solve their problems.

8. Expertise: You must be an expert in your product or service. In case you don’t have the answer, be honest and say so. Then, find a team member, who is better skilled and can help you to come up with a solution more efficiently. If you need to connect the customer to another member of your team directly, make sure they are introduced properly with clear boundaries of responsibility.

9. Dependability: If you give a promise to customers, stick to it and do everything to make it happen. Don’t leave the customer hanging by saying “as soon as possible”. Even if you don’t have the answer, be committed and follow up on the request by providing a realistic timeframe or explanation. Simply keep the customer in the loop.

10. Follow up and continuous communication: People value when the service provider follows up to make sure that everything is alright, and the problem is solved. It is recommended to keep customers up to date about process and delivery time or any other issue, which may affect the deadlines and the set targets. Conclusion: The secret ingredient of excellent customer service isn’t a pitch-perfect product or service, but satisfied customers whose problems are solved. It doesn’t mean you have to be ideal. Just make sure you put yourself in customer shoes and fix things in due time. Once you have all these aspects covered, you will earn customer’s trust and loyalty that in turn, provide new business opportunities in the future.