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Customers want one, well, two things above else. They want to save time and money. And since our online experiences have improved in strides, we expect that making research and buying a convenient and personalized process.

How can your support team take this customer service “know how” and apply it to their work? That’s something we wanted to figure out for ourselves. So we looked back at our most popular and memorable posts of the year to better answer that question.

Here’s what successful customer service teams have in common:

1. They decide on the right customer service strategy

It’s difficult to settle on a customer service strategy out of the blue. First, determine what your customers want. What expectations you’d like to set for them and how to meet them. We created a helpful checklist to help you with this: 20 tips for a better customer service strategy.


2. They pick the right customer service tools

Without the right customer service tools, it’s difficult to reach your support goals. In this post we narrowed down the questions you should ask yourself and the implementation road maps to consider to pick your next help desk software. Read more on picking help desk software that’s right for you.


3. They hire the right customer support employees

Employees are the lifeline of any support department. They should be able to clear up misconceptions and diffuse difficult situations with their superior communication and listening skills. Here are the most important skills to look for in customer support employees.


4. They empower everyone to do great things

Giving up responsibility isn’t easy. Since your support agents deal with customers day in and day out, they should have adequate decision-making ability to go above and beyond customer expectations. We explore the most effective way of doing that in getting employees to create customer service miracles.


5. They know how to start, carry and end conversations

Email skills are the new communication skills. Forgetting to brush up on these skills can leave you in the dust, particularly in the fast-paced and quickly evolving world of customer service.


6. They identify and encourage loyal customers

Customer loyalty doesn’t come easy – but when it does, how do you scale it? How do you connect with customers and build long-term relationship with them?


7. They don’t make mistakes in support

Customers are well aware when businesses aren’t able to meet their expectations. Often, they don’t make much noise or complain about things. Instead, they quietly leave for your competitors.


8. They know how to resolve difficult situations

No matter the problem your customer is faced with, they expect a quick, thorough answer and (hopefully) some good news. Skilled support representatives know how to turn every difficult situation around.


9. They routinely say thanks and show appreciation

There’s a million ways of saying thanks, but it’s actions that have the potential of winning the hearts and minds of your customers. We asked 30 different businesses how they thanked their customers in creative ways, and their answers blew us away.


10. They align their messaging to customer expectations

True customer sentiment is difficult to measure. In this post we differentiate between a mediocre and an outstanding and memorable support experience. What are the characteristics and repercussions of each?


11. They understand the importance of human emotions

Successful sales professionals know how powerful emotional attachment is, particularly when it comes to brands. Yet many support teams don’t consider the role of emotions during the purchase experience.


12. They allow customers to help themselves

Sometimes you need to leave customers to their own devices. This includes offering them multiple self-service options and appearing only when when called upon. Smart support representatives understand that sometimes customers stay silent and aren’t keen on being bothered.


13. They listen to the collective voice of the customer

When customers have an opportunity to speak out, companies have an opportunity to listen. This raises accountability of those in the company and increases customer satisfaction.


14. They understand the customer’s point of view

What you think the customer thinks may not always correlate to what’s happening on the ground. Keeping in touch with how your words, actions and even intentions may be interpreted is important.


15. They’re not afraid to go above and beyond

There are times when you must break all the rules in order to set yourself apart.


Your team is your greatest asset.

Nowadays, customer service is a lot more than a “department” or a means to an end.

Making customers feel valued does more than get them to stick around. It will also give them solid reasons to spread good words about you. Getting your team on your customer’s good side will help your organization reach greatness.

This post was originally published here.