According to the Customer 2020 Report, the customer experience has overtaken price and product as key brand differentiators. That means if you haven’t already, it’s time to make the customer service department your business’s next big bet — moving away from viewing the department as a cost center and towards a profit center.

Service that excels in 2017 relies on meeting your customers wherever they are, treating them like friends with conversational service, building a stellar service team, and working to engage that team.

Take a look at five of the best practices below, and for the rest of the 20, check out the interactive infographic.

1. When a new customer arrives, find out which channel they prefer for service assistance. As part of your onboarding experience or welcome call, ask how they'd like to be contacted if an issue arises. If your onboarding experience includes a welcome email, include a handy list of all available service channels. Your marketing should also give customers clear instructions on how to reach you when they need you.

2. Occasionally, you'll come across a customer who just likes to complain — and sees a customer service agent as a perfect opportunity to let off steam. Keep in mind that while these interactions may be frustrating, they're a path to new insights about your product capabilities and limitations. Ensure your team treats every complaint as an opportunity to make your company better.

3. During a session at 2013’s Call Center Week event, Kimberly Warrick, Client Services Manager at NJ Shares noted that agent motivation should be considered from the very first interview. Here, you have your prospective agent directly in front of you, ready to answer any questions. That’s the time to get your first look at what motivates them. Before they’ve even put on a headset, you’ve got the chance to make note of what will keep this potential service team member motivated. Just ask them!

4. The millennial generation has huge career aspirations, and as potential hires, they often make up their mind during training whether they’ll work at your center for a long-term period. Telus International has seen a decline in attrition rates through initiatives such as Telus University, which allows employees to gain arts and business credits while still working with the company. They fully invest in their customer support team members’ development outside of the customer support role.

5. You don’t always need to spend money on tangible rewards in order to make your team feel motivated. Quite often, a supervisor’s quick email or internal social network mention to a team member on a job well done is equally as effective as a gift certificate. Continue to celebrate even incremental successes with even the smallest acknowledgement can brighten the day of an agent dealing with an otherwise stressful shift.

To read the rest of the 20 tips, download the interactive infographic.