We are officially in the age of the customer. That means forget about your sales team, forget about your marketing team. Forget about IT. Just have everyone move to the customer service department.

…okay, well, that may be a bit extreme. I’ll dial it back: Now more than ever, customer service should be top-of-mind for any business, regardless of industry, business size, or product. According to the Customers 2020 report, customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator. To put it simply — the future of business success relies on providing superior customer service.

That’s a tall order. Where do you even start? What does “superior customer service” even look like to the modern customer? That’s what we explored in our latest interactive,  but we’re giving you a sneak peek here at some of the major themes:

1. Go where your customers are

Your customers are no longer just contacting you over the phone. They are using a myriad of channels — phone, website, live chat, mobile app, social, media, email, and will continue to develop new methods via channels that haven’t even been invented yet. Businesses should be ready to deliver exceptional service on any channel, at any time. This relies on your business’s ability to develop deep customer insights and leverage those insights to provide a mobile, omni-channel experience that your customers expect.

2. Treat customers like friends

Does your business still view customer service as addressing a customer’s question or solving a problem? Then you’re already way behind. Customer service should be embraced and leveraged as an opportunity to create real competitive advantages by using service to delight, empower, inform and engage customers. How? By leveraging experts, turning setbacks into solutions, and keeping interactions real and authentic.

3. Build your team

Service agents are on the frontlines of interacting with your customers and are responsible for providing an excellent, personalized experience. That starts with hiring the right people to set you up for success down the road. By implementing gamification and providing opportunities for career growth beyond the cubicle, you’re attracting and growing the right talent.

4. Engage every employee

Once you’ve attracted the right people, you need to engage and reward them. By creating a culture of success on your service team you’ll find that same success translated straight to your customers. This doesn’t have to take the shape of money or tangible rewards in order to make a team feel motivated — think beyond monetary value.

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