8 Fresh Customer Service Ideas Worth Stealing

Our ability to complain is enhanced by technical advances in communication. Tools like 4G networks, Google Glass, and phones that double as cameras ensure we have a continuous stream of ever more effective ways to complain.

But, even today, customer service still is considered to be “revolutionary” and “proactive” if you just respond to customers on Twitter or Facebook. In all seriousness, when was the last time we were wowed when Verizon or British Airways responded to us on Twitter?

If you want to make your customers happy, there are tactics you can use, from handwritten notes to custom-made YouTube videos. Here are some ideas you can steal from companies that truly are experts in the field:

1. Show Off Your Customer Support

A few years ago, 37signals (now Basecamp) went public with their customer satisfaction ratings. Customer or not, anyone can go to their Smiley page and check out the ratings their last 100 customers gave them. I think this is a brilliant idea because, not only does it help potential customers make a decision, it also helps reaffirm the faith their existing customers have in them.

37signals smiles

Go public with your support ratings and wow your customers. Plus, if you have great support, where’s the fun in not showing it off?

2. Be There the Moment Your Customers Think of You

The release of the Kindle Fire HDX was one small step for Amazon and one giant leap for customer service. By allowing consumers to connect to support agents at the click of a button, Amazon redefined “exceptional” customer service in just a matter of minutes.

Using Mayday, users can talk directly to an Amazon employee over video, and get their problems resolved in seconds. The rep on the other side can see the screen live, and even highlight parts when walking users through the solution.

mayday

Understandably, this has thrown all of Amazon’s competitors into a tizzy. After all, how does one even compete with something like Mayday?

Thankfully, there are a few workarounds for those who don’t have the kind of support force that Amazon has. If you sell your product online or have a sufficient web presence, you can use Firefly to co-browse with your customers in order to guide them through the checkout process or give them a tour of your application without forcing them to download anything. And with “rep control,” a feature that is included with even their basic plan, you can do anything from navigating links to completing the checkout process for your customers.

3. Answer Questions on Video

When Warby Parker discovered how difficult it was to answer complicated questions in just 140 characters, they decided to leverage videos to help customers resolve their issues. Employees got on camera to nuke questions on prescriptions, frames, and even shipping times for glasses. Their customers were so blown away by the videos that they started spreading the word about them.

warby parker video customer support

Getting your employees to shoot such videos isn’t that difficult, especially if you enable them to do so with the right set of tools. Moz has some tips, and Mixergy’s guide on interviews could help with the hardware you need to buy. But, if you have a digital product, I’d recommend that you go with Screenr. Recording a workflow has never been easier.

4. Build Credibility by Publishing Reports

Buffer, the darling in the world of social media software, takes transparency to a whole new level by providing a monthly roundup of their support metrics and customer interactions with their Happiness Heroes. These reports also include personal tidbits and the life lessons they learned that particular month. Buffer’s transparency turns their user base into brand advocates and brings in millions in revenue every year.

buffer happiness

5. Go the Extra mile: Send Personalized Thank You Notes

When Wufoo started out, they sent hundreds of handwritten thank you notes to people who signed up to build contact forms. Between 2008 and 2010, several users blogged about receiving handwritten notes from Chris, one of the developers. Personalized thank you cards like this stand out among the dozens of newsletters we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.

wufoo notes

We admit that sending out hundreds of handwritten notes is easier said than done, but there is a workaround.

Enter MailLift. All you have to do is quickly dash out what you want to say, and they’ll take care of the rest. Not only do their writers painstakingly craft a note to send to your customers on your behalf, but Mail Lift ships the handwritten notes from your address. And, you can integrate it with your CRM to make things as easy as possible!

6. Get the CEO Involved in Customer Support

When Elizabeth shot an email to J. Crew’s support criticizing their holiday collection, she did not expect a response. So, you can imagine her surprise when she received a call from the Chief of Marketing and Personal Shopping and the support rep handling her ticket. Not only did they listen to her feedback patiently, they also sent her a follow-up email with a promise to turn things around.

6 karmaloop

Karmaloop goes one step further than the norm, and actually publishes the CEO’s telephone number on their about page. That could be a potential problem – imagine sleazy sales personnel calling over and over again – but blocking an hour every week to listen to ideas from frontline customers is doable. As this Forbes piece mentions, anecdotes could help you make better decisions than spreadsheets.

7. Hire College Geeks Who have a Knack for Troubleshooting

JackThreads, an online men’s shopping community, doesn’t hire customer support experts to man the phone lines and nuke down support requests. Instead, they hire Ohio State University students, who have an eye for design, as support agents. The live chat service, dubbed “Jill Says,” is a hit because most of the customers who reach out to the team just want some quick fashion advice.

Very often, companies hire smart students from a university and then put them through a year-long training program to get them up to speed. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, though. What does make sense is hiring people who are passionate about the niche your business operates in. They’ll empathize with your customers far better than a service professional with a decade of experience in an entirely different industry.

8. Bring Ideas to Life to Win Hearts and Reap Profits

Free Wi-Fi. Pumpkin Spice Latte. Cake pops. Free Birthday Treats. Happy Hours. By bringing to life these and over 270 other ideas from customers when their growth stalled in 2008, Starbucks has earned the love of millions and reinvigorated their brand. Crowdsourcing suggestions resulted in a 375% increase in Q4 2009 profits in comparison with the previous year.

starbucks-x

(Source: Starbucks Press Release)

You don’t need one hundred thousand customers and a fan club to crowdsource ideas. Just setting up a simple, engaging portal and making your customers feel valued will go a long way.

About the Author: Shankar Ganesh is a Marketing Analyst at Freshdesk, a leading customer support software in the SaaS market. Shankar shares his interesting tech finds very often on Twitter: @_shankarganesh

  1. Great summary – I think the culture of an organisation goes a long way in determining the customer service level. If people work for an organisation that really believes in satisfying the customer needs, it will support its staff in all their decisions around improving the customer experience.

  2. LuNell Gilliland Mar 04, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Handwritten personal thank you notes go along way in our electronic world. As a matter of fact, I’ve hired every applicant that ever sent me a hand-written (and hand-addressed) thank you note. Think we should try it with our customers! Thanks for the idea.

    Also, like getting the CEO involved in customer service – worked for a man awhile back that routinely answered the company’s main telephone line after 5 pm so he kept pulse on what our customers were thinking, asking about, complaining about and wanting product-wise.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    • Patricia Barnes Mar 25, 2014 at 8:55 am

      I believe 1000 percent in handwritten thank you notes. This has always been a practice of mine. I appreciate handwritten notes and so do my customers.

  3. Arun Sivashankaran Mar 04, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Thanks for putting together this great post. I think having the CEO involved in service has additional benefits – specifically getting the leader closer to the customer pains (where they should be).

  4. A customer support is an important thing to concentrate, online marketing needs more and more support, for total online marketing solution please visit Commerce Monks

  5. Expedia employed this recently when I had a customer issue … it tracks all the comments that they have had concerning their service good and bad!

  6. Great post and examples. I actually talk about rating in a post of mine. The thing is that most businesses don’t look at customer service as a way to promote their site and business. I actually talk about way that a business can use their customer service to promote their business. #4 is my favorite way to promote business using customer support. http://gerlachwebsitepromotion.com/use-customer-service-promote-business/

  7. Shailesh Shende Mar 06, 2014 at 12:04 am

    That is a great post, customer servicing like these or more actually benefits both the customer & business, its a win win situation; that is very helpful, I will also give it a try for sure. One more thing, we can do is we can directly meet customers ocassionally, this will help us develop personal relations and understand them more, isnt it?

  8. Great article that I’m sure will be a favourite with Curators

  9. Great creative ideas. I like the personalised letter approach, I presume there’s an equivalent in the UK somewhere. A very good PR technique – as a company you don’t necessarily need to pay someone else to do it, unless you have a vast amount you intend to send out.

    Great post, cheers!

  10. Alexandra Nicola Mar 07, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Hiring passionate people about the field might mean that they need little training because they are up to date. But most importantly they have a different way of reacting and approaching problems, because their attitude is different.

  11. Business people want to know what their peers are doing and where trends are headed. Build goodwill and engagement by packaging up your knowledge into content you can share with current and potential customers.

  12. Wonderful article!Fresh customer service ideas are very attractive.Thanks for putting together this great article。

  13. That is a great post.Thank you again for the inspiration and guidance!!

  14. Very nice article, appreciate all the efforts.

  15. Excellent post. Truly shows the value of having a social media presence and real live examples of how it can be utilized to gather the perspective of the opinions of your customers.

  16. Really seems to be the credible points that you’ve shared here. Hope the customer support services will still be experiencing a better boost if a few of the information is executed. Informative work!

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