In today’s highly competitive business world, customer service is undoubtedly one of the most important metrics. Your business’s customer service team has the power to make or break a sale. With each interaction, they can encourage a customer to continue their relationship, or decimate it. And there are so many factors that affect customer service. Without the right customer support, you lose out on a chunk of potential leads, and no business can afford to ignore potential customers. Unfortunately, not all businesses operate with the mantra “the customer is always right” — which should be the ideology even when it’s not true.

The best customer service teams

When you think of the companies propelling forward today, it’s easy to conjure up images of Apple, Google, Amazon, and the likes. These businesses have such great reputations, not just for their product, but for their customer service as well. And this extensive customer catering isn’t just limited to billion-dollar companies — small businesses can not only excel at customer service but should rely on it as well.

For example, the Sage 100 support team, which handles support requests for their business software solutions, operates with a “prepare for the unexpected” motto. With that in mind, they understand that business needs change and customers need a scalable system that caters to that. And great customer service isn’t limited to those with tech products; ecommerce startup One Kings Lane has been lauded for their service skills in the home decoration industry.

If you’re just building a customer service team or looking to revive your existing one, take a page from the books of some of the best customer service teams around. These seven customer service lessons from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos offer a sound starting platform. You can also take some tips from Apple’s approach to customer support.

The impact of customer service

Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” There’s no quicker way to do so than by not focusing on your customer service. Too many potentially great companies have fallen to the wayside because they lacked this understanding. According to a study from New Voice Media, companies are losing $62 billion annually due to poor customer service. Major corporations like Walmart have had to address concerns over poor customer service and funnel money into rebuilding their customer service strategies after lagging sales.

Comcast is another great example of a company that’s likely to have lost millions due to poor customer service. This frightening example shows a Comcast employee arguing with a customer over disconnecting a service. Although Comcast stated that this was a unique situation, it was revealed that Comcast incentivizes their employees to retain customers who want to cancel, and if they weren’t able to do so, it could impact their pay. As a business, you never want to be caught in the wildfire engaging in such shoddy practices.

Customer service tips

Customers want to deal with highly knowledgeable staff, and this means your team needs thorough training on the product — especially if it’s technical. You should also enforce consistency with your customer service team. No matter who calls or how often they call, everyone should receive the same positive experience, each and every time. And lastly, treat customers like people and exude a friendly disposition. The customer service call isn’t supposed to a sales pitch, and customers know the difference.

Customer service software

Use customer service platforms to manage requests and determine areas that need improvement. Through these software options, you’ll better understand which questions are being asked more frequently and can build out better responses to cut back on needing customer support for answers.

Furthermore, customer service help desks can unveil great questions that you may not have thought of before, and you can add those to the list of questions your staff needs to be trained on. It’s not always easy to tell what’s confusing about your service or product from an internal perspective and it’s not until you’ve gotten calls and feedback from others that you better understand potential issues.

Customer relationship management software also allows you to keep track of a customer’s profile. For example, if they called about an issue a month ago, when they call again, a rep would be able to see a log of their previous calls, their transaction history, and other details. This can have a huge impact on your customer service because it ensures consistency and allows reps to continue service as if the customer has spoken to a single person with each company interaction.