Great Customer Service Examples (and some BAD ones) for Small Businesses

What Are Some Bad Customer Service Examples?

  • Inability to reach a live person on the phone
  • Rude or incompetent customer support agents
  • Long hold times
  • Repeatedly explaining themselves
  • Pushy salespeople
  • Failing to issue a refund
  • Lack of empathy

Customer service is essential to the longevity and growth of your business. Consider these facts:

Poor customer service can drive customers away to your competition, making consistent business growth increasingly difficult. Providing good customer service is what differentiates your business from others, especially in a crowded marketplace where customers have so many choices.

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What is Good Customer Service?

Good customer service is prompt, effective and pleasingly fulfills your customers’ needs. It meets or exceeds customer expectations with a positive attitude and knowledgeable guidance or support.

Depending on your type of business, this could mean offering suggestions or insights to aid the customer in selecting the best option or helping them resolve an issue in a timely fashion.

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Retail Customer Service Examples

Although customer service is important in any line of business, it is a key element when it comes to retail or in-person businesses like shops and restaurants. Here are a few customer service examples to consider for your retail operation.

Creative solutions when items are out of stock

If a customer is looking for a favorite item that you typically carry, and it is out of stock there are several ways to try to fulfill their request even though you don’t have it on your shelf at that moment:

    1. Recommend a comparable alternative item or brand.
    2. Contact the manufacturer to find out if they have inventory to drop-ship directly to the customer.
    3. If you have multiple locations or a warehouse where additional stock is kept, check the product’s availability for the customer.
    4. If you manufacture the product, find out if one of your retailers has the item in stock.

Act as consultants

Teach your sales associates to take a consultative approach by asking customers to explain the problem they are trying to solve or what they are looking for. When associates take the time to actively listen to the customer and ask clarifying questions, they can better guide the customer to the best product to meet their requirements. Customers will appreciate this sincere effort and return for assistance in the future.

Share product knowledge

The more you and your employees know about your products and services, the better you can assist customers and help them select the best option to meet their needs. This allows you to talk about best-selling products, discuss the features and benefits of specific products, and educate customers about the best way to use a product.

Apologize to unhappy customers

No matter how hard you try, there will be times when a customer will be dissatisfied, or things won’t go as well as they could have. When they take the time to express this disappointment, it’s important to know how to respond to customer complaints in the best way. A customer complaint is actually a gift in disguise and should be treated as such, so you and your associates need to keep your cool, listen carefully, confirm understanding, and then the customer for their feedback. This enables you to transform an unhappy customer to an advocate by addressing the issue and helps your business improve and grow.

Go the extra mile

Delight customers by going above and beyond to fulfill their requirements. For example, imagine that a visitor to your restaurant is part of a large party of diners. The customer tells the server they have dietary restrictions that prevent them from being able to eat the regular items on the menu. Without hesitation the server learns more about what the customer can eat and offers some alternatives, not on the menu, that the kitchen can prepare. The customer is overjoyed, has been able to adhere to their dietary restrictions, and is able to dine with their group at your restaurant. They are sure to return to your establishment again and again.

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Examples of Good Customer Service

Here are five more examples of good customer service to help inspire you in your own business:

1. Anticipate ecommerce shipping issues

Online businesses encounter shipping and delivery issues from time to time, including delays, lost or damaged packages, or misdirected shipments. Proactively tracking the progress of orders in your system enables you to identify shipping problems before the customer contacts you about the issue. This allows you to notify the customer and take corrective action, heading off a potentially negative customer experience.

2. Respond to questions quickly

Customers want instant gratification, so when they contact your business with a question they don’t want to wait for an answer. Support agents need to be well trained and have resources at their fingertips to facilitate rapid responses to customer inquiries. When the customer asks an unusual question, they need to know where they can get an answer. Taking extra steps to address these questions shows customers that you and your associates care and want to help.

3. Offer self-service options

There are times when customers have questions and don’t want to have to contact your business for answers. This is where having a comprehensive FAQ page and/or knowledge base on your website can make all the difference. This enables customers to locate their answers quickly and easily, with minimal effort, satisfying their needs and making your business more attractive to them.

4. Add live chat to your website

Customers don’t want it to be easy to contact your business when they need help or have a question. Adding a live chat option on your website enables customers to reach out with a question, even if they are working from an employer’s office and not able to make a phone call. Plus, it prevents them from waiting on hold, so they can complete other tasks while waiting for responses from your live agent.

5. Be empathetic

Taking the time to understand the customer’s point of view makes them feel valued. This level of sensitivity to your customer’s personal preferences helps you take your customer service up a notch and enables you to better accommodate their needs. They will remember your efforts and likely return to your business in the future.

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What is Bad Customer Service?

Falling short of customer expectations in areas such as response time, attitude, assistance, or any aspect of customer experience can negatively impact the customer’s view of your business. Things like a rude associate, a poorly cleaned place of business, negative language, or lack of empathy can contribute to a bad customer experience. The result is a client who is dissatisfied, disappointed, angry, or frustrated.

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Bad Customer Service Examples

Here are some examples of bad customer service that people simply won’t tolerate. Be watchful for these situations in your business and eliminate them if you observe them:

    • Inability to reach a live person on the phone—Having complicated call menu options can make it feel difficult or impossible for customers to connect with a live person at your business. Be sure to make the call menu options clear and easy for callers to get assistance with a minimum of frustration.
    • Rude or incompetent customer support agents—Customers have many options today and aren’t willing to put up with service agents who display poor behavior. Don’t allow your agents to act in this manner.
    • Long hold times—Your customers are busy and have better things to do than stay on hold for a long time. Setting up a cordial voicemail recording that plays when all agents are tied up might be a better option. It can encourage callers to leave a message and inform them of other contact options such as email, live chat, social media, and online FAQs.
    • Repeatedly explaining themselves—Customers don’t want to be transferred from agent to agent, being asked to repeatedly provide background information to each person they speak to. Instead, have one support agent or employee take responsibility for helping the customer achieve resolution.
    • Pushy salespeople—Nobody likes to have a product or service forced on them repeatedly after they already said “no thank you”. Don’t allow your sales reps to be pushy, especially when the customer already said no to what they were offering. Instead, your reps need to tailor solutions to the customer’s needs, making it easy for them to say yes.
    • Failing to issue a refund—When a customer requests a refund after a bad service experience, an effort should be made to comply with their request. If a full refund isn’t possible, negotiating a resolution that’s agreeable to all parties is best.
    • Lack of empathy—Failure to try and see a situation from the customer’s standpoint, especially when they are unhappy, is always a bad idea. It’s best to meet the customer where they are and consider their individual situation. Taking the time to understand their unique circumstances helps you provide better customer service.
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Differences Between Good vs. Great Customer Service

So what do you do if you want to elevate your customer service from not just good to GREAT? Here are a few ways to recognize the difference:

Exceed expectations

Good customer service means meeting customer expectations, but excellent customer service requires going above and beyond what the customer expects. For example, a good new appliance business delivers and installs the product by the date promised. A great service provider delivers ahead of schedule, if possible, and includes post-installation training and support to boost the customer’s experience.

One call resolution

Don’t make customers speak to various people within your business or call back repeatedly about the same issue before it gets corrected. You may eventually meet their requirements by solving their problem, but one-call resolution takes your service up a notch to great. This level of service is where the first agent the customer speaks with takes possession of the issue until it is resolved. If the agent is unsure how to address the customer’s problem, they may discuss options with a colleague or manager, but doesn’t pass the customer off to another person.

Focus on the entire customer experience

Businesses that deliver good customer service are consistent and friendly. They wait for customers to ask for additional help and then strive to assist them. But businesses that provide great customer service take it to the next level by enhancing all phases of the customer experience from start to finish. They proactively gather feedback from customers to identify their weaknesses, improve on them, and provide greater value by offering free add-on services, thank you gifts, and more individualized service.

Personalize it

Friendly service and knowing customers’ names and basic preferences are typical of good customer service. But businesses that offer great customer service communicate with customers proactively by sending things like handwritten birthday cards and thank-you notes. These companies also follow up with top-tier customers routinely to confirm all is going well and to offer additional support without the customer initiating contact. This further strengthens the relationship with the customer in the long-term.

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Best Customer Service Practices Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Your customers expect and deserve consistently good customer service. Here’s a list of key customer service tips to help you provide your clients the type of customer service that keeps them coming back:

Hire the right people

Your employees and service representatives are the face of your business. Hire carefully to ensure they will project the best image in each encounter with a customer. Help them develop the best skills for excellent customer service. Then teach your employees how to properly respond to customer complaints when they arise. This prepares them to turn a negative situation into a positive one if they’re adept at handling these potentially difficult customer interactions.

Under-promise and over-deliver

Customer expectations tend to be artificially high. That’s why it’s essential not to make unrealistic promises or guarantees. Instead, clearly explain what customers should expect from your business, then strive to exceed what you have committed to. It’s far better to exceed moderate expectations and delight your customers, than to fall short of overly lofty promises and disappoint them.

Always create a positive first impression

You only have one opportunity to make a positive first impression, so make sure you and your associates are always putting your best foot forward during an initial engagement. Otherwise, you risk losing the customer since you have no track record with them and need to work even harder to attract more potential new clients.

Document client data

Every time a customer interacts with your business, you learn something new about them. It would be impossible to remember all this information and communicate it with your entire team unless you take the time to document them. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform or Client Notes system, such as the one offered as part of the LinkedPhone platform, is the best place to gather all these insights so you can always remember each customer’s preferences. And taking the time to make note of these details enables you to show your customers that you are listening and that you care.

Tailor it to the individual

Leverage that valuable client data that you’re documenting to customize every engagement with each customer. After all, that is what your customers have come to expect since that is what they experience with many of their online business interactions. Making the effort to personalize each customer’s experience will help you stand out from the competition so that customers gravitate to your small business brand.

Make contact easy and convenient

Customers prefer to have options when it’s time to contact you with a question, concern, or complaint. Don’t force them to dial the phone when they might prefer SMS messaging, email, or social media. Offering a variety of contact methods makes it easier for customers to communicate with your business and they’ll be happier because they didn’t have to expend a lot of additional effort to do so.

Be customer-centric

You only have one opportunity to make a positive first impression, so make sure you and your associates are always putting your best foot forward during an initial engagement. Otherwise, you risk losing the customer since you have no track record with them and need to work even harder to attract more potential new clients.

Say thank you

Always remember to say thank you for supporting my small business. Customers want to feel appreciated. Don’t ever take them for granted. After all, your business wouldn’t exist without them!

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Always Be Prepared to Offer High Quality Customer Service

It’s difficult to consistently grow your business if you don’t offer good, great, or excellent customer service, because it costs more to constantly attract new customers than it does to retain happy existing customers.

Make note of what good customer service and bad customer service is. Keep these customer service examples in mind when gauging the quality of your customer care. Implement some of the best customer service practices discussed above to help your business stand out in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

Ready to start providing not just good, but excellent customer service? Find out how a virtual business phone system can give your business the tools it needs to grow consistently, like a Client Notes feature and toll-free calling, and much more!

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Small Business Resources

Add a Business Line to Your Cell Phone
Small Business Podcasts
Books for Business Growth
Small Business Mobile Apps
Top Entrepreneur Forums
The 30-Second Elevator Pitch
Perfect Voicemail Greetings
Add Click-to-Dial To Your Website
What is VoIP? How Does it Work?
Guide to Small Business Software
What is a Virtual Phone System?
How to Share a Team Phone Number
Toll-Free vs. Local Business Number
Learn the Parts of a Phone Number
Inspirational Small Business Quotes
Mastering the Art of the Cold Call

A special high five to Margot Howard for her outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs who are passionate about business success strategies. Thank you Margot! ❤️

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