Optimizing the customer experience is something many forward thinking companies are striving for. Still an emerging field, there’s no commonly accepted practice on how to structure a Customer Success program. Industry buzzwords, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools, and a variety of detailed processes are helpful and may seem alluring, but proceed with caution. Be careful not to overcomplicate your customer success plans as you can cloud the vision, distort your goals, and confuse your employees; ultimately leading to a frustrated customer base.

The reality is, all you need to know about top notch customer service comes down to 6 things you learned in pre-school. Yes, it is that easy which is why it always astounds me when organizations just can’t get it right.

1. Listening – Without question, feedback is the most critical element to the success of your company if you take action on it. Negative feedback should be embraced and seen as an opportunity to fix what’s not working. Positive feedback should reinforce the good things and encourage you and your company to keep doing them.

2. Empathy – Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. See things through their eyes. Think about how you want to be treated when things go south with a product or a service that you purchased. Are you satisfied when you are brushed off? Do you like the way you feel when you are not taken seriously? Of course not! Act like it’s you on the other side of the phone (or keyboard) and you can’t go wrong.

3. Honesty – Yes, the truth can hurt sometimes, but what hurts worse? Being caught in a lie. Not only is it embarrassing but, it severely damages your credibility (likely for good), and it paints your company in a bad light. As hard as it may be, own up to any missteps along the way, more often than not, you’ll gain respect from your customers and in a lot of cases; your bond with them will strengthen.

4. Be polite – No matter the situation, there’s never an excuse for rudeness. When issues arise, it’s the customer’s prerogative to vent. It’s also a normal, healthy, and acceptable reaction. It’s the service provider’s job to make things right, not to put up your dukes. Acting defensively only fans the flames.

5. Keep your promises – Do what you say you are going to do: “I’ll get back to you with an update by the end of the day.” Even if you don’t have much to report, get back to the customer! Not following through on your promises tells the customer that you are disorganized and worse, disingenuous. If a customer has to chase you around…refer back to principle #2!

6. Be helpful – Don’t sit around and wait for the customer to ask for assistance. Not all of your customers are vocal and they might be suffering in silence. Be proactive and look for ways you can get involved to solve problems and identify risks to prevent problems from happening in the first place. Check in with your customers regularly (especially the quite ones!) and see if there’s anything they need. Most will politely decline your offer, but believe me; you’ll have scored big just by asking!

These 6 principles create a level of customer focus that dramatically increases customer satisfaction and in-turn will result in every company’s favorite 3 words: upgrades, renewals, and referrals!