Customer service professionals know that good service has become a vital tool in building and maintaining a successful business. But what if the industry’s definition of what comprises top-notch customer service varies from what customers really value? The simple answer is to ask, something Gatepoint Research did in a wide-ranging survey about customer needs, frustrations, and experiences. These and other findings can be found in the report: Uncover the true value of your support organization.

What they found serves as a roadmap for customer service success—a path that organizations would be wise to follow. After all, it’s up to the customer to provide examples of good customer service, not us.

1. Unified, consistent customer service experience
Businesses have more channels than ever at their disposal for resolving customer issues, from live online chat, traditional call centers, SMS, messaging, social media—even customer self-service. But just having those channels isn’t enough: 54 percent of survey respondents place more value on the consistency of service across and within those channels.

That means when your customers reach out on social media, will your support professionals in that channel show the same level of knowledge, responsiveness, and empathy that employees in the traditional call center have? Did your company put the same level of resources and training into its live chat channel as it did the call center? Do customers receive one answer on the phone but a different one via email? Consistency puts your customers at ease, builds trust, and ultimately drives revenue.

2. Robust and responsive social media presence
Customers don’t just want companies to have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages; they want those to be places where they can ask questions, post complaints, and get answers—fast. As one study found, 30 percent of customers will share positive experiences on social media, and more than two-thirds pay close attention to those reviews (including negative ones).

3. Minimal wait times
When customers recall a pleasant service experience with a company, the first thing that comes to mind for 69 percent of them is fast resolution time. After all, who enjoys waiting? Perhaps counterintuitively, that doesn’t necessarily mean resolving an issue to the customer’s satisfaction (fewer than half rated that as the most important aspect of a positive experience). For customers, it’s clear: help them quickly and be pleasant.

4. Empathetic agents, no pain points
For many customers, good customer service is based on empathy—they want to know that you care about their issues and understand that their time (and patronage) is valuable. And most importantly, they want their experience with your team to be free of unnecessary frustrations, such as having to repeat themselves to multiple agents or being placed on hold for long periods of time.

And as artificial intelligence and smart machines capable of learning and exception handling become increasingly advanced, businesses should focus on technology and process investments toward empathetic improvement. As a study by Gartner emphasizes, “While it’s still early days for being able to measure the economic impact of empathy in business, it’s worth noting that companies that have successfully disrupted existing business models did so because of the empathy they felt for customers dealing with inefficient processes and experiences.”

Read the full report: Uncover the true value of your support organization.