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7 Principles For a Better Customer Experience — Every Time

Illustration on a pink background of a customer service agent celebrating a 5-star rating. There’s a customer service agent illustrated over a mobile device, and two customers awarding stars. / principles of customer service
When your agents consistently provide great customer service, it’s easier to earn more 5-star ratings. [Alwie99d / Adobe Stock]

Just follow these tried-and-true methods to consistently create a meaningful connection with your customers.

How important is customer experience? We’ve found that 88% of customers value experience as much as products or services. The experience your business provides can immediately make or break customer relationships. That’s why it’s more important than ever to deliver an exceptional customer experience — every time. You can do this with these seven principles of customer service. Let’s look at each one, along with tips to put them into practice. 

What are the 7 principles of customer service?

The seven core principles of customer service are working as a team, listening to your customers, building relationships, practicing honesty, showing empathy, knowing your product, and making every second count. With these principles, you can build customer trust by turning every interaction into a meaningful connection.

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1. Support customers as a team

Customer service is a team sport — and not just for your customer support team. Sure, you’ll want to pass highly technical cases to your subject matter experts, but everyone needs to be able to help out. When every employee, no matter their title, is responsible for customer success, it’s easier to consistently deliver a great experience.

Tip: With case swarming, your team can share collective knowledge in real time to solve customer issues the first time.  

2. Listen to customers (and share their feedback)

Communicating with customers is one of the principles of customer service key to building trust, especially during challenging conversations. This starts with active listening — patiently hearing what your customer says and then repeating what they’ve said back to them. By mirroring what a customer shares, you help them feel heard while reinforcing that their perspective is important to you. 

This technique also helps ensure that your team fully understands your customers’ concerns, increasing the likelihood that they can resolve the issue to everyone’s satisfaction. 

Tip: Having your support team share honest feedback from customers with management can help to mitigate product issues and inspire new product ideas.

3. Build customer relationships (even with AI)

We found that 66% of Millennials and 61% of Gen Zers prefer to use self-service for simple requests. With help from AI, you can create knowledge base articles that are always available online. Customer service chatbots can answer common questions and resolve straightforward concerns. 

Your agents are then freed up to focus their valuable time and attention on more complex issues. Both self-service and live agent support helps to build relationships with your business, as customers get service the way they want it.  

Tip: Personalize every interaction by making sure your agents and chatbots address customers by their preferred name.

4. Be honest about what you don’t know

In our most recent State of the Connected Customer report, 74% of customers told us that communicating honestly and transparently is more important than ever. If your agents aren’t sure how to solve a problem, let them know it’s okay for them to tell the customer they’ll find the right answer and follow up. Maintaining an open dialogue with your customers helps your agents to earn their respect.

Tip: Using clear language and avoiding excuses when something goes wrong helps to build trust with customers. 

5. Practice empathy (Hint: Generative AI can help)

Empathy is not just a necessary soft skill for agents, but one of the vital principles of customer service. Our research shows that 73% of customers expect you to understand their unique needs and expectations, so it’s important to include empathy and compassion in your toolkit. 

Generative AI can be a great tool for creating more empathetic interactions by suggesting a realistic reply based on each customer’s unique data. When reviewing the responses AI provides, make sure your agents put themselves in the shoes of the customer before pressing send. You want to make sure your reply reads like it came from a human, not a robot — customers can tell. Your agent’s empathy will show, and customers will appreciate them for it.

Tip: Use AI to identify language that resonates with each customer for a more personalized experience.

6. Know your product

The more your customer support team knows about your product, the better they’ll be at helping customers solve issues. Onboard every new employee — not just your sales reps — with an in-person or virtual product bootcamp to ensure they know your products inside and out. Be sure to prepare your whole team for every new release, too.

Tip: Help your team members improve their customer service skills with Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform.    

7. Remember – every second counts

Nobody likes to wait. We found that 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately upon contact, and 83% expect to resolve complex problems through one person. Give your team the tools they need to support customers as efficiently as possible and solve each problem completely — the first time. Speed is important, but it should never come at the expense of quality and overall customer satisfaction.

Tip: Give your team the context they need with a single platform that offers full visibility throughout the customer’s journey. 

Make no mistake: Customers have more options than ever. In a highly competitive global market, every forward-thinking company needs to focus on its customer service strategy to stand out from the crowd. By using the seven core principles of customer service, you can consistently deliver an excellent experience.

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See how you can help your agents become more efficient — and your customers happier. When you have an easy-to-use platform for your data, agents have all the information they need to provide the care customers expect.

Mala Ravi Product Marketing Director

Mala Ravi is a Director of Product Marketing for our Service and Field Service products at Salesforce. As a former solutions engineer, she is focused on bringing to life exceptional field experiences. She’s also a budding celebrity — spot her photos on the Salesforce channels.

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