Ever had a bad customer service experience? You wait all too long to speak with someone you can hardly understand only to be disconnected or disappointed. It’s no surprise that excellent customer service is one the top selling points for consumers and one of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself form competitors. If you can get it right, there’s no better to maintain customer loyalty.

1. See it from the other person’s perspective

This is the golden rule when it comes to customer relationship management. The first step? Listening. Listen to your customer. Figure out what went wrong, what their pain points are, and what their main objective is. Good customer service is about validating the other persons concerns and making them feel heard.

Once you understand where they are coming from, make a conscious effort to let the other person know. Express your empathy and acknowledge what happened. Even if there is nothing you can do to help them, addressing the issue or mistake will transform the conversation from an argument to a discussion.

Next, truly try and help the customer. Be fair. If there is fault on your behalf, do everything in your power to make up for it. People will forgive mistakes. They will not forgive disregard.

2.Talk in terms of the other persons interest

Taking a genuine interest in the other person goes a long way. If it’s a quick call, be personable. Ask them how their day is going and actually be interested. (Customers are also less likely to act outraged after they’ve just admitted that they’re doing great.) For long standing customers, try and get to know them. Have agents take notes of things they’ve said or the type of business they run. Many business use this info to send personalized gifts to their top customers.  For example, Solid Commerce sent custom yoda cookies to a customer who loved Star Wars. The customer was overjoyed, and will surely be a fan for life.

3. Be easy to reach

The key to excellent customer service is variety. Diversify your support so that customers have a variety of avenues to reach you. This will help alleviate build up and reduce wait times.

Chat support

Have a quick question? Immediate chat support is perfect. With chat, it is very important that someone is readily available 24/7. If customers don’t receive a response within 30s seconds, you can bet they’re dialing your number before the minute is up.

Support Site

Create an online knowledge base that is so helpful they never have to call or email you in the first place. Again, your time to prove yourself here is limited. If it is all confusing or the customer can’t find the answer they are looking for in one to three searches, they will move on.

Phone Support

Make contact right away. Create a recorded message letting them know a customer service representative will be with them shortly. This serves two purposes. One – it buys your support staff time. Two – if a member of your support staff answers the phone shortly after the recorded message, you will have already exceeded their expectations.

Email Support

Email Support is a great way to help keep your phone lines open. As soon as the customer fills in their information, they should receive an automated email confirming you’ve received their request. Now, it all comes down to timing. One day is the expected time for an email response. Contact them sooner, and you’ve made an excellent first impression. Contact them later, and you’re likely to get a phone call, thereby creating more work for your customer service representatives than if you had no email support to begin with.

4. Create customer expectations, then surpass them

Manage customer expectations by setting the bar low. Tell customers you’ll get back to them within 48 hours, then get back to them in 24. Instead of being disappointed that it took you one whole day, they’ll be pleased you got back before you said you would. And if something does take longer than expected, you’re right on schedule.