Customer Service Tools That Make Your Job Easier

call Thankfully there are many tools that can make your job of providing excellent online customer service a lot easier. Today, with cloud-based systems that can be used from any location, you have a lot of choices. You’re not tied to location or a certain type of operating system any longer. You can provide excellent online customer service with your Smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop and not miss a beat.

14-support-optionsTicketing Systems


  •  —  With you can provide excellent customer service to your clients via a variety of methods and with a variety of different technology such as self-service, email, chat, phone, social media, or your website. Whether you have customer service agents or it’s just you, you’ll be able to provide enterprise level customer support. 
  •  —  While technically a customer relationship management application, this software offers add-ons that can make this an all-in-one solution for ticketing systems, as well as chat support for customers. You can create a knowledge base and workflow rules that escalate tickets easily.
  •  —  It’s cloud based, and on their server, so you don’t have to download or install anything. There are automation features that help you manage, engage and grow your customer base. For instance, you can turn comments on Facebook or Twitter into support tickets. You can do both text based (email support) and phone support using agents via 
  •  — Bills itself as an all-in-one client management system. This includes billing as well as support. You can even send quotes to clients that can later become invoices if the client accepts them. Can also be used as a way to provide customer support via a ticketing system. This system offers a lot of detail, as well as customization possibilities, plus it’s mobile, too. You have to install it on your own server.


15-chatLive Chat Systems


  •  — With you can increase sales by offering an easy way to chat with customers who visit your website. You can also offer a way for customers to get fast help for problems. You don’t even have to be at your desk to chat with your customers, you can use your mobile phone. What’s more, they offer a ticketing system and knowledge base in case customer live chat is not available during that time. Pricing is per agent and very reasonable. 
  •  —  Live chat that is either a real person or a “chatbot” they call a Virtual Assistant, for self-service. A customer could be on any page of your site and need help with something and simply pose a question to the Kana Virtual Assistant on every page and get automated help. Great for times when your live agents are offline. 
  •  — They offer a lot of different automated software for your website that will allow for sales or service chats live or by bot on your webpage. The system can be set up so that self-service is easier for your customers as they can be guided to the right answer for more complex issues. 
  • —  Using your preferred method to chat, like Gtalk, you can use this software to chat with your customers when they visit your site. You can provide customizable chat boxes for your clients on your site that blend in well and are not in the way. What’s really great about is that if you’re chatting with someone and can’t solve their issue you can escalate them and transfer them to another operator. 

Systems and tools will help your business provide excellent online customer service. Even if you cannot afford to invest in one of the tools above yet, at least dedicate one email address to customer service, make it simple for your customers to contact you, and make a commitment that you or a virtual assistant will answer customers quickly, efficiently and with a mind toward solving problems in favor of the customer.

How to Ask Your Customers What They Want


It seems simple doesn’t it?  Simply ask your clients and customers what they want.  Getting customer feedback on every purchase and every inquiry is an excellent practice.  If you care about what the customer wants, you have to ask. But, believe it or not, the next part is more important. After you have asked please remember to:

Listen to the answerDon’t assume you already know what they want, or even what happened. Don’t interrupt a customer when they are explaining something. Fortunately, with online customer service that has not escalated to the telephone, you have to “listen” to the issues since your customer is typing a response. But, the important thing is to really read it.

Repeat what they said in your own wordsThen repeat what you think they have told you, and ask leading questions which need more than a yes or no answer. Truly concentrate on what the customer is saying.  Remember that their language may not be the technical jargon you’re used to, so try to realize that when reading their initial issue, question or complaint.

Listen fully to what the customer is sayingYou can’t solve any problems without knowing and understanding all the issues. Remember, even if you are completely accurate, their view is different from yours and it’s important for you to listen very carefully. Oftentimes the customer will give you the keys to making them satisfied with the outcome if only you listen to what they say.

Solve the customer’s problemOnce you feel confident that you’ve received all the answers you need from the client, again repeat back to the customer what you thought they said, and then offer a solution that will solve the problem. If you’ve listened carefully enough, your solution will be something they mentioned during the inquiry process.

Customers love giving feedback when they feel like they’re getting something out of it. Send them a survey using a product like or create a questionnaire using Google Drive Forms and Spreadsheets. Send different surveys to each client based on the service performed or the product purchased. Then offer them a discount or free gift for participating and being honest. 


Special Care of the Angry or Irate Customer

12-fix-itIt happens. You offer a great product, but something happened to make the customer angry or even irate.  Sometimes this is truly your own fault, but sometimes it’s not. However, it is your problem now that you have an angry and/or irate customer. Believe it or not, you can turn this around too. It’s a matter of remembering to:

  • Be Positive  – Don’t use trigger words such as can’t, won’t or should. Phrase everything you say in a positive way. Use words such as, can, will, absolutely and definitely. Don’t ever make the customer feel like you don’t believe them or that something is their fault. 
  • Apologize  — Even if you don’t think it’s your company’s fault, it’s important to apologize to the client anyway.  “I’m so sorry you feel this way,” is a good way to apologize without taking the blame. However, if it was truly your fault, own up to it and apologize profusely. 
  • Empathize –  Put yourself in their shoes. Try stating, “I certainly understand; that would upset me too.” Then, move on toward getting answers that can help you solve the customer’s complaint to their satisfaction. You can empathize without being emotional. While it is personal to them, or they would not be irate, this is business and you should not take anything they say personally. 
  • Listen  – Even if you’re reading a complaint rather than listening on the telephone, take special care to really hear what the customer is saying between the negative words. If you have to, cut and paste what they are saying in a separate document, add in appropriate spaces, take out curse words, and find out what is really the issue by eliminating the extraneous information. If you need to, escalate the issue and call the customer. Phones can be very humanizing. 
  • Start Small  – Once you’ve determined the root problems, take small steps toward rectifying the problems one at a time. If you have to, ask the customer what you can do to make it better.  If it’s possible to solve the problem in the manner the customer desires, do it. If not, offer to meet in the middle. 
  • Draw the Line  – Know when to give up. Yes, there are times with some customers that it’s better to simply give up. If you’ve done all the things that you can above, and they’re still irate and have not calmed down, it’s time to consider letting the customer go. Not every customer is going to fit with your vision and that is okay. Calmly return their money, and send them on their way. 

While you need to treat the customer as if they’re always right, you don’t have to be abused or walked on. Try to do the right thing, and then move on.


What Do Customers Expect Anyway?

Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay Cosmetics said about customer service once, “Imagine that every customer is holding up a sign that says, Make me feel important. When you get that this is all a customer wants, customer service becomes fun and challenging.

If you can demonstrate the following to your customers, they will stay happy.

  • Reliability  — Do what you say you will do when you said you’d do it. 
  • Responsiveness — Answer all tickets within the time frame you said, and at least within 48 hours. 
  • Value  — Your customers want to feel as if you value them as important and they want the products they purchase to be valuable. 
  • Empathy  — Put yourself in their shoes. 
  • Competency  — Show that you know your business. 

You want your customer service to always make the customer feel that not only was their problem solved but also that they are better off now than they were before purchasing your product. By keeping in contact with customers before, during and after purchase you’ll eliminate a lot of problems from the get go, because your customer will already feel as if you meet all of the above standards.

Winning Customer Service Strategies


It’s important to realize that you cannot ever please a customer too much. You’re not in danger of doing that anyway, but you are in danger of having unsatisfied customers who will leave your business in a heartbeat for someone else who offers better customer service. Remember, it’s not all about the product either; it’s about how the customer feels.

Feelings aren’t always rational. If you and your staff (if you have any) can learn the basics of human behavior and communication, and then use that information to adapt the response to the customer based on the individual client, you’ll go really far toward providing excellent business- winning customer service. It’s important to differentiate your business from all the rest, and today, the best way to do that is to develop top notch customer service.

2-helpfulBe HelpfulEven if you won’t make a profit today, being a resource to your contacts and customers is a great way to build long-term relationships. If your product is not right for them, and that does happen, don’t push it. You don’t want a customer who is unhappy. Instead, turn that person into a resource for other more qualified customers by being a resource to them.

Help that person find a product or service that is right for them.  You’ll catch the person off guard when you admit that your product or service is not right for them, but this other product or service is. Don’t be surprised if they then turn around and try to convince you that they’re right for your product or service. Either way, they’ll leave happy and recommend you to others.

Demonstrate IntegrityIntegrity is an important component of any business that wants to last a long time. You wouldn’t know it from recent headlines, but if you really want to provide excellent customer service, demonstrating integrity will go a long way. You can demonstrate integrity mostly via customer service. Integrity is about being consistent in your actions.

Everyone in your business should be on the same page and be able to demonstrate via their actions the business’s values. If your mission statement says that you value your customers above all else, or that you donate 10 percent to a charity, then you need to show that you do that. In other words, don’t be hypocritical. Simply put, integrity is doing the right thing no matter how it affects you personally.

3-trainingTrain Your StaffWithout proper training, how can they provide great customer service? According to the book, How to Win Customers and Keep them for Life, almost 70 percent of customers who leave a business do so because of perceived indifference of the person they dealt with, whether that was an owner, manager or employee.

That’s why your customer service needs to be customer focused. We often talk about systems and processes when it comes to doing business, but when it comes to customers, if your business is not customer centric, you’ll lose in the end.

By training staff how to speak to customers, whether in chat, in a help ticket, email, or the phone, you’ll reap the rewards many times over by teaching them how to connect properly to a customer, thus making the customer feel important. Not only do you need to train your staff, but you need to give them the power to actually affect change and solve problems. Whether that is a dollar amount, or some other measure of how far they can go to helping your customer feel taken care of, you must do it. Let go of the micromanaging and control of your customer service staff and you’ll see great rewards.

Under Promise Then Over DeliverDon’t make promises you can’t keep, because customers expect you to do what you say you will do, and they expect you to do it right the first time, and they expect you to be on time. Those are lots of expectations. In order to be a successful business, if you’re going to offer online customer service, then you need to live up to all those expectations.

Therefore, never promise to do something “right now” or “today” unless you know for sure it’s possible. Instead, give a reasonable date by which this problem will be fixed and then make it happen, and if you make it happen sooner than you stated, so much the better. If you solve a problem sooner than you said you would, your customer will feel special and cared for in a way that you couldn’t achieve any other way.

Don’t forget that the concept of under promising and over delivering isn’t just about solving a problem your customer has. It starts from the moment that your customer comes to your website to purchase from you. Your customer should have a good idea what your products or services will do for them, but don’t promise the moon and the stars. Be realistic about the promises you make and the hope you put into the heart of your client. You want them to expect something, of course, but not everything. The reason is that you want them to be extra pleased when they end up with more than they thought they would. Customers who are happy buy more.


Show Your KnowledgeWhether it’s you or your customer service team, it’s important that anyone working directly with customers understand the business they’re trying to support. If you don’t understand your business and cannot show your expertise to clients and customers, it’ll be really hard to provide excellent online customer service.

When you demonstrate your knowledge about your product, you’ll truly be able to point your customers in the right direction. Many problems that your clients have are probably easily fixed with simple trouble shooting. 

Use AutomationHaving a FAQ and self-help area prior to offering an automated ticketing system on your site, that will enable customers and clients to empower themselves to help themselves, is a great way to use automation. Providing customer self-service is an essential element of offering excellent online customer service. First of all, most people prefer to try to help themselves before submitting tickets and certainly before they call anyone. This is true especially in relation to online business, because this target audience is often surfing the web in the middle of the night or early in the morning before work and hope to get help before  typical business hours.

Even if you have a bricks and mortar store, a proper website should offer some form of online customer service, including online self-service options. Having this option can tremendously cut down on the in-person customer service needs your clients have and actually make them more satisfied in the process. Customers enjoy being able to find the answers they need on your website because it makes them feel like you know your product and can stand behind it by answering possible questions and helping with trouble shooting in advance.


A FAQ, or frequently asked questions page, is an essential component of any self-help customer service area that you want to provide. Your customers can go there at their convenience and look up problems. Even potential customers can read it, and often will decide to buy based on the FAQ if it makes them feel secure about purchasing from you. The FAQ is a great place to put information about: 

  • How to contact you
  • Shipping policies and procedures
  • Return policies and procedures
  • Other answers that have been given previously
  • Access to submit a ticket for more help

Customers hate having to hunt for your content information, or return information. Don’t make them. Make it super clear from the start of your help desk. Making it harder for someone to make a return will not prevent returns from being made, but, making it easier can. Why? Because if it’s super easy to return something those who are going to make that choice anyway will do it right away. Those for whom another solution will work will look for another solution or contact customer service personally without having made a return yet. This is yet another way to qualify people so that you don’t waste more time and money on customers who cannot be pleased. The key word here for customer self-help is KISS — Keep it Seriously Simple.

6-satisfactionAlways Offer Money BackWhile it can be scary to do so, especially if you offer a service, it’s important to offer some form of money back offer. If the product is digital or even physical, a return can mean just selling the product again, but if it’s a service where you cannot ever get back the time it took, you’re going to have to sometimes suck it up and cover the cost yourself.

This isn’t to say you have to be walked all over, but there are ways to at least break even on such situations. For instance, you can offer a percentage back based on how much work has been done. But, if a client is really unhappy and you cannot make it right, sometimes it’s best to just give them the money back, take back the rights for them to use the work you did, and move on.

Be PersonalThey say “It’s not personal; it’s business” all the time, but the truth is that from a customer’s standpoint, giving you money is very personal. The customer wants to feel like they know you and trust you before opening their wallet. When using email for communication, or chat for that matter, always use your customer’s name.

Thankfully, even in email there are automation possibilities, so that even canned email can be addressed to the name of the customer. So, whether email, chat, or phone, always use the customer’s name as naturally and as much as possible. They will feel more connected to you and more likely to appreciate your help.


Don’t Ignore ComplaintsWhen a customer complains, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, a blog post, or privately via your ticketing system or email, don’t ignore it. Even if there is no apparent solution, the best thing to do is respond in a way that attempts to tone down the situation and seek to offer a solution. Your customers expect to get answers via whatever form they choose to register their complaint, and if you’re going to offer these lines of communication, then you had best be monitoring them.

Even if a complaint can’t be directly addressed to the person, don’t ignore it. If customers know that you will respond to these types of complaints, customers will actually spend more with your company. Even if they weren’t the one who registered the complaint, seeing how you dealt with the complaint, especially public social media complaints, gives future customers confidence that they’ll get any problems they have solved, too.

Ensure that you monitor all social media accounts so you’ll know what is being said about your business, and have a plan in place of how you or customer service contractors will deal with the complaints. You’ll need to determine if it’s a real complaint or spam. Real complaints need answers; spam can and should be deleted. The more personable you can be on social media, the better. Customers want to see “you” and the people behind the business on social media.

Offer Solutions Not ExcusesCustomers want you to solve their problems, so go to them with solutions to the problems, not excuses. If you are having trouble dealing with all the questions you get via your customer service channels, then it might be time to get some help. You can hire a customer service Virtual Assistant who can lighten the load for you tremendously. When your customer or client tells you what they need, provide it. If it’s not possible, apologize and refund their money.


Go Above and BeyondMake the customer feel special and you’ll earn a customer for life. Being simply adequate at customer service is not enough. There is far too much competition out there for that. Just for one moment put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think about the last time you received truly exceptional customer service. There probably are less than a handful of cases. Right?

In the cases you can remember where a business went out of their way to solve a problem for you, didn’t you feel great?  One way you can differentiate yourself from your competitors is to visit their online customer service and figure out where they lack and then fill that hole. Even if solving the problem is going to take time, you can make a customer feel super special by providing frequent updates about the status of their issue so that they know that you’ve not forgotten them.

Try a few extra special touches when you’re dealing with a specific complaint as well. Do things such as give a large discount due to their problem, or give them something free. Send them a personal note in snail mail if you have access to their address with a special coupon code or a sneak peak sample of a new product or service you’re developing. Ask for feedback. They’ll appreciate the extra thought, and likely do business with you again.

Why Providing Excellent Customer Service will Increase Sales


Each customer that you’ve acquired has a lifetime value. This is something you should know. When you acquire a new customer, assuming they are happy throughout their lifecycle, what will they spend and for how long? It costs many times more to acquire a new customer than to keep one.

16-checkClients who receive excellent online customer service:

  • Stay Put  — By providing excellent customer service that is above the rest you’ll create loyal customers who continue to buy again and again.


  • Buy Faster — A live chat will provide excellent and immediate customer service but it will also enable an expert to answer a potential customer’s questions immediately, thus encouraging the customer to buy today instead of moving on and buying from someone else.


  • Buy More — Want clients who come to you to ask for advice on what to buy? Want customers who turn to you as the first business to fill their needs? Provide excellent customer care and it will happen. 

Also, excellent customer service provides you with opportunities to:

  • 17-more-salesUp-sell  – Anytime you get to interact with a customer is a chance to offer an up-sell product or service, potentially doubling your profit. Staying in contact, outside of when your customers have a problem, is providing excellent customer service.


  • Builds Relationships – Good customer service builds relationships and once you have a real relationship with your customers and clients, before you know it your customers will ask you for solutions. What’s more, because you know your audience more, you’ll be able to create better products and services that solve your clients’ problems faster and easier.


  • Prevent Complaints  – By being in constant contact with your customers and clients, and being open to solving problems with your customers in mind, you’ll be able to prevent future customers from having the same issues by using each complaint as a way to change how you do business.

If you want repeat business, providing excellent customer service is the very best way to make it happen. Providing excellent online customer service will ensure that your customers will be happy, come only to you for solutions, buy more often and try more of your products or services.

Excellent online customer service will establish trust, develop your reputation and expand your brand. Finally, they will become your biggest cheerleaders, recommending you to others and singing your praises. What other reasons do you need for improving your customer service until it is exceptional?