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How to Create a Customer Service Philosophy for Your Business

Set the tone for how you interact with customers at every stage.

Customer service refers to the way you provide help before, during, and after someone makes a purchase from your business. Some companies have dedicated customer service teams or entire departments dedicated to meeting customer needs; others integrate it into every role. Either way, it’s fundamental to the business success of any company. In fact, 7 in 10 U.S. consumers say they’re willing to spend more money if it means buying from a business that offers great customer service.

The potential impact on your business’s bottom line is 1 of many reasons to create and implement your own customer service philosophy. This requires an honest assessment of how your customer service team interacts with your customers and the services you can provide.

What is a customer service philosophy?

Your customer service philosophy may be part of a customer relationship management plan that guides how you approach supporting customers. It shapes the way your business prepares, enacts, and maintains your support policy.

A customer service philosophy should detail how you want employees to interact with customers or clients to ultimately build customer loyalty and improve customer retention.

Often, businesses make their customer service philosophy statement available to the public. This communicates your company values and sets expectations about what customer services your business provides.

What makes a good customer service philosophy?

Many effective customer service philosophies focus on traits and core values like:

  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Quality
  • Understanding
  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Responding
  • Serving
  • Personalization

As you prepare to write a customer service philosophy, think about what you value in your relationships with other people. What about in the companies you feel loyal towards? Or businesses with qualities that you hope to emulate? Those keywords can help you craft your own philosophy.

7 steps to create an impactful customer service philosophy

Your customer service philosophy will be unique to your business. It should reflect your core values and resonate with your employees. To create this philosophy, you’ll need to consider your customer experience and the services you can reliably support and provide. This can be done with these 7 tips for developing a strong customer service philosophy.

1. Assess your goals and customer needs.

Be honest. Consider the needs and desires of your customer and the support services your company is capable of providing. It will not serve you to take a “make the customer happy at all costs” approach if you aren’t able to consistently deliver. Consider your customer service representatives' bandwidth and whether you have resources for a full support team while creating your customer service philosophy.

It can be helpful to gather feedback from your current customers when generating this philosophy. You want to avoid creating products or customer service solutions that you think your customer wants, if it’s not what they actually need or desire. Create a customer assessment through focus groups, satisfaction surveys, live chats, or customer comment cards to give voice to the customer that you are attempting to satisfy.

2. Select an issue-centric or customer-centric model.

A helpful distinction to make is about whether your customer service philosophy is issue-centric or customer-centric.

Issue-centric philosophies are focused on solving specific issues that customers have on a case-by-case basis. This means that every issue is approached as its own separate event. Customer-centric philosophies approach both issue and customer as a unified package. This typically requires a log that includes customer support histories and internal notes about issues the customer experienced in the past. Customer-centric philosophies may often take further resources for implementation and may not be feasible or applicable for all businesses, but could increase your customer loyalty significantly.

3. Consider your customers.

Put yourself into your customer’s shoes. What are your customer's expectations? How can you apply what you learned about them when you assessed their goals and needs? This step involves putting that analysis into action.

Consider the types of service or support they want from your business. How do they wish to communicate about issues or get updates on product releases, marketing communications or company-sponsored events? This may include quick response times for issue-related calls, simplified automated voice services, or curated email marketing strategies for awareness of promotions, products, or events.

4. Incorporate accessibility, self-service, and automation.

While some customer service techniques are best performed via a one-to-one interaction, like to answer questions, provide your customer with product information or guide a sale, some customers enjoy effortless experiences or low-effort ways to help themselves.

You can meet this need with clear, simple troubleshooting articles, live chats or online content that covers product or industry-specific issues. You can also create automated marketing campaigns to provide a welcome, personalized order notification, or rewards—all of which can cover topics that you know they are interested in or need to learn more about without involving customer service representatives.

5. Focus on consistency.

Consistency is crucial to customer satisfaction. Your brand should be consistent for the customers who interact with it, regardless of whether that’s via self-service, automation, or a direct representative.

As you write your customer service philosophy, think about how your brand values and elements come into it. Your philosophy should cover how your brand is represented in customer service interactions across channels. This can be done by establishing your brand's key fundamentals: tone, voice, and visuals.

6. Create employee empowerment.

Creating situations where employees are knowledgeable and empowered to provide solutions and serving people is key. This can be done by providing employees with enough product education to understand any questions or issues a customer might have. As your company grows you should consider professional development solutions for your team.

Building trust with employees and allowing them autonomy to make customer service decisions and resolve issues can also eliminate the need for a rigid script, rules, or micromanagement. In turn, they can provide your customer with solutions, instead of copy that came from a script.

7. Practice recognition, responsibility, and patience.

How your business responds to customers’ needs will greatly impact customers' experience and perception of your company values. Recognizing what customers mean to your business and making them feel recognized and appreciated goes a long way. It pays off to take responsibility and provide the services and solutions your customers need.

Communicate to your employees that customer service should be provided with patience and understanding. You may not be able to win every customer with your philosophy, but understanding when to persevere and when to let go is an important threshold to understand and apply gracefully. Encourage your employees to meet your customers with empathy and calmly aim to solve their problems.

Apply your customer service philosophy to a strategy

Once you’ve created your customer service philosophy, it’s time to put it into action. To do so, you’ll adapt the philosophy into a customer service strategy.

Your strategy should cover how you will:

  • Apply your customer service philosophy.
  • Identify the value customer service offers as a growth driver for the company.
  • Set customer service goals.
  • Forecast the cost of providing customer service.
  • Allocate resources needed to meet your customer service goals.
  • Hire employees that can meet your standards of customer service.
  • Train and empower your team to provide the level of customer service you desire, to meet and even exceed customer expectations.
  • Hold employees accountable—perhaps using a performance management system to recognize and reward knowledgeability, quick response times and good service.
  • Workshop and update of your customer service goals and philosophy.

Enact your customer service strategy

Once your customer service strategy is enacted, it should live throughout every department and layer of your business from top-down and bottom-up. Those in leadership positions should be closely involved in maintaining and updating it as a direct representation of the company's mission and values. (This is a good practice to apply even if you run your business all by yourself; it will be easier to scale customer service as you grow if it’s a habit.)

If you have a design or engineering facet to your business, for example, they should be aware of customer desires and needs, and be able to effectively answer common questions about the product. Products should be designed with the user experience and/or user interface in mind. Likewise, marketing departments should be able to answer key product questions and should be considerate of customer needs, questions, or desires while creating any automated marketing communications, blog content, or social media posts.

Sales teams and client-facing employees should be trained, educated, empowered, and aligned to the needs of the customer, and the customer service philosophy of the company. Ensuring that your customer service philosophy is represented at every level helps your company continue striving towards a common goal and keeps your vision in line with your brand values.

Let your customer service philosophy grow as you do

Creating valuable customer service is deeply affected by the needs and desires of your customer, as well as the limitations and abilities of your business. Be proactive about updating your customer service philosophy as your company grows.

Changes might occur that impact both your business and your customer base. Continue to seek customer input and to re-evaluate how your company can meet their needs to achieve business success and continue to delight customers.

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