Winning Customer Service Strategies That Give Businesses a Competitive Edge

John Krautzel
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The key to gaining a competitive edge in any industry is to treat your customers well. It's no secret that the retention rate of your client base depends heavily on your customer service strategies and staff. Develop and implement winning strategies to gain loyalty with your existing clients and to attract new business.

1. Develop Your Staff

Your customer service representatives serve as the face of your business. Provide them with the knowledge and resources they need to represent the company's products and services. Offer training seminars and workshops that focus on features of products, new service launches and explanations of the core values of the business. Arm your staff with accurate information that helps them serve your customers, troubleshoot problems and guide clients through the process of utilizing business services and products. Employees who are given ample training and information are typically more confident in their own skills to assist customers.

2. Focus on Empathy Training

Customer service strategies should focus highly on how to communicate and empathize with potential and existing clients. Each interaction with a customer varies. Your employees need to know how to calm down a frustrated client, offer solutions and show that they are truly listening to the needs and wants of customers. Reduce the tension of your own employees and frustrated client by teaching staff phrases to say, words to repeat back to customers that identify their genuine understanding of the problem and procedures for resolving problems right away. Encourage your employees to put themselves in the shoes of the customer to better understand what they need.

3. Make a Personal Connection

Customers do not do business with a company; instead, they do business with representatives of the company, explains Shep Hyken, a certified customer service expert and author. Train employees to find a common ground with each and every client. Discuss how to engage the client in conversation and provide prompts to identify preferences of the clients so the representative can guide them to a fitting product or service. Customer service representatives should take the time to make personal connections that create a sense of loyalty, and ultimately, returning customers.

Get to know your customers, too, so you can tailor customer service strategies to the targeted demographic. Provide options for customers to detail information about their buying habits, preferred products, age and gender so you can better serve them.

4. Guarantee Products and Services

In order for your employees to genuinely and passionately help customers, they must have faith in the products and services of your company. Offer a guarantee that shows your company truly believes in the success of its products. This guarantee not only helps relieve any apprehension from the buying customer, but it also fuels customer service representatives to back up their claims about the company's goals and mission. A customer service strategy is only successful if the products and services speak for themselves in terms of quality.

5. Enhance the Infrastructure

As a customer yourself, you know that it is extremely frustrating when you are on hold for lengthy periods of time or when agents are unable to answer your questions. Develop an infrastructure for your customer service department that minimizes inconveniences for both customers and employees. Offer self-help options online where customers can find answers to their probing questions right away. Implement a ticket tracking system that prompts the sales or support staff to call customers back instead of placing them on hold. Eliminate long hold times by offering messaging or chat systems on your website to assist customers right away instead of forcing them to call a customer care center.

6. Solicit Customer Feedback

A winning customer service strategy relies heavily on feedback from your customers. Develop feedback options to evaluate each and every interaction. For example, provide customers who call for assistance with a brief survey to assess their experience with your company's service and product line. Interact with clients on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to gauge their interest in new products and processes. Listen to what your target demographic wants and needs to improve your customer service strategies.

7. Be Transparent

Gain a competitive edge over other businesses in your industry by being transparent. If your product fails or a service experience is less than stellar, admit wrongdoing, apologize and show that you are working to resolve the problem. Avoid misleading claims about your product line, and explain how you are changing or improving customer service strategies and client options. The more a company is open and honest, the more the public begins to respect its transparency.

Customer service strategies are always evolving and changing. Businesses must be open to changing their operations, processes and product lines to better serve their clients. Be open to constructive criticism when evaluating what your customers want and need to develop winning strategies that ultimately put you one step ahead of the competition.

Photo Courtesy of itc ksa at


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  • Elizabeth D.
    Elizabeth D.

    A smile but not just a smile One that is uniquely yours welcoming, appr hello I'm here to help and serve you

  • Mohammed,k.(Johnny) A.
    Mohammed,k.(Johnny) A.

    Be help to the other has a great dael of joy.

  • magda R.
    magda R.

    Is a way to help people in any kind.

  • Colleen B.
    Colleen B.

    Working with people is my best place to be. Helping any way to move it ahead.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Jane so very true. I don't wait for very long before I will request that the escalate the call. I am usually a patient person but, when I can't understand half of what is being said, it's time to move on. @Hema if escalating the issue to the supervisor does not result in a satisfactory response, the supervisor needs to get the customer's contact information and make arrangements to call them back or to send them an email with the resolution.

  • Jane H.
    Jane H.

    Unless my experience talking a customer service representative was either brilliant or catastrophic or there's a financial incentive attached, I'm unlikely to click on customer service surveys. If my experience was just average, then I don't feel it's worth my time to discuss it. When I'm in a call with a representative, if they don't seem to know what they're doing or they're rude or I can't understand them clearly, I'm quick to escalate the call to a manager or supervisor. I've had good luck sometimes with chat functions, and that can be a quicker way to go, especially if I need to send screenshots or other data to explain what has happened on my end that resulted in this contact. When I am occasionally in the position of explaining how to improve customer service to a client, these are the kinds of experiences I discuss with them.

  • Hema Zahid
    Hema Zahid

    Customer service is extremely important, but sometimes the customer may have an issue or problem that an employee cannot immediately solve. Even if the employee has had plenty of training, resolving such complaints can be tricky. What’s the best way to tackle customer complaints that appear to be impossible to answer and solve?

  • Erin H.
    Erin H.

    When I worked for Sea World, every employee was empowered to help the guests in any way possible. The standard was that if a guest approached you with a question, if you didn't know the answer you were to take the guest to another employee who could answer their question. This sets the standard very high on customer service, and it taught me a lot about taking responsibility for every customer interaction.

  • Jacob T.
    Jacob T.

    Giving customer service representatives the power to resolve customer complaints is a great point. Nothing is more frustrating then spending a chunk of time working your way to human service representative and finding out they are not able or given the tools to resolve your issue or handle your question.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Totally agree @Lydia I detest the non-human options when you are calling a company. I will just hit 0 and keep on hitting 0 until I get a human on the other end. I agree about the FAQs that companies are supposed to maintain. Typically they will do a general FAQ and then forget about it - not updating it. Turns me off. @William certainly there are plenty of statistics about the ROI for customer service. Without a good CSR, customers are going to go elsewhere. I have changed my bank because of terrible customer support and would do the same with other things, too, if I encountered some really terrible customer care. Word of mouth - on social media sites can make or break a company - so very true.

  • Lydia K.
    Lydia K.

    I think that companies can go too far with customer service infrastructure. I don't like calling a customer service number and then spend 5-10 minutes pressing menu options without an option to speak to a human. I've also seen plenty of company FAQ boards that are very disorganized and not helpful - and some are not even optimized for mobile browsers. I think companies should have staff ready to answer questions and solve problems promptly instead of sending them on a wild goose chase through automated systems.

  • William Browning
    William Browning

    What about statistics revolving around customer service and returns on investment? So many studies I've read prove that good customer service keeps your profits flowing. Without returning, loyal customers who love your products or services, you have no one to buy your stuff. Loyal customers give you word-of-mouth advertising that grows your customer base geometrically.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Shannon so true - happy employers can offer better customer service. Think about the times you have called for assistance from a company. Was the employee answering the phone with a happy voice or could you hear - oh I hate my job - in their voice? Makes a big difference for what comes next. A happy voice seems to help take some of the air out of my "complaint balloon" whereas a growling voice seems to inflate it more - usually with a very unhappy outcome. @Shannon it would seem to reason that team building exercises would help to make the team more cohesive which, in turn, seems to lead to a happier work atmosphere.

  • Erin Jean
    Erin Jean

    Empathy genuinely does go a long way. Even the most negative of customers might be going through something in their lives that we can't know about, and trying to remember that does stretch patience further.

  • Shannon Philpott
    Shannon Philpott

    These are excellent suggestions and I couldn't agree more with the idea of focusing on training for your customer service representatives. Would you recommend team building exercises, too? I've often thought that boosting the morale in the office leads your staff to provide better customer service. Happy employees often equate to happy customers.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Catherine offering an incentive certainly is a great idea. It is probably true that a company only gets glowing reports or extremely negative (as in I will never buy from you again) reports. How often do we really offer feedback though. I know if a company has done me wrong or their products are inferior, I will be the first one to start posting negative comments about them on my social media sites as well as on sites that are designed for this - like Yelp for instance. I hate to admit that very seldom do I offer positive feedback although I know I should. How often do you get a request from say Amazon to give your feedback on your purchase only to put the email in the trash never to respond? I know I do it all of the time (hiding my head in shame).


    The idea of soliciting customer feedback is a great idea. I feel like most people don't give feedback on products or services unless they've had a terrible or wonderful experience, so results may be skewing. I think that the best way for businesses to get the average customer feedback that reflects the typical evaluation may require some sort of small incentive because many people will not be willing otherwise.

  • Kellen P.
    Kellen P.

    I think the empathy training is a wonderful idea! It does need to be actually empathetic -- not just a patronizing empathy "act" (totally agree, @Katherine). You need to teach someone to put themselves in the customer's shoes no matter how "unusual" the customer may be. Whenever you are dealing with the public, you are going to get some hostile, strange people that are difficult to empathize with. For hiring managers, finding a genuine "people person" during the hiring process can help improve the quality of customer service.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Abbey the answer to your question would depend upon the company and product I would think. In today's world, instant feedback is what both sides want - the company and the customer. @Katharine so true! I can't tell you how many times I have been a call with a CSR and I have to repeat myself several times. I get frustrated to the point where I just find out the answers myself instead of having to stay on the phone for 30 minutes in order to answer a 30 second question. Active listening is one of the major traits that any CSR should have.

  • Katharine M.
    Katharine M.

    The empathy training is a good idea, but can backfire. I've definitely been in situations where customer service reps have been saying the right things ("I understand," "That must be frustrating," etc.) but it can come off as very patronizing, especially if the person does not, in fact, appear to be listening, as when the person then offers a solution that has nothing to do with what I was talking about. Bottom line: you can't empathize without truly listening!

  • Abbey Boyd
    Abbey Boyd

    I agree that getting honest feedback from actual customers is essential to knowing how your company is really doing. What are some of the best ways to get this feedback? I know some companies offer online surveys after an interaction, and some have short phone surveys offered after a customer service call. Is there any method that work best? What methods do customers prefer?

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