Good customer service is the key to business success: A PwC customer experience report even found that customers are willing to pay 16% more for premium service. More importantly, one-third of customers will walk away from a brand they love after a single bad customer service experience.

So, what does stellar customer service look like in 2021? According to the same PwC report, 80% of U.S. respondents rank speed, convenience, and knowledgeable employees as the top priorities for a good customer experience.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help your team with improving customer service skills. To save you time, we’ve curated a list of 28 resources to get started, including:

  • Communication resources
  • Productivity resources
  • Empathy resources
  • Goal-tracking resources
  • Process-creation resources
  • Problem-solving resources

We’ve even included some bonus resources that don’t quite fit into any of these categories, but are too useful to leave out.

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Communication resources

The first step toward creating a good customer experience is clear, approachable communication. Provide agents these resources to help them clearly convey solutions to customers.

1. Writing in plain language by Leslie O'Flahavan

Leslie O'Flahavan'sLinkedIn Learning video course is designed to help customer service reps (and everyone else) communicate clearly over email. After taking this course, agents will be better prepared to manage customer expectations and avoid frustration over email.

2. Reading analytically by Leslie O'Flahavan

This HelpScoutblog post(also by Leslie O'Flahavan) breaks down the basics of reading and interpreting customer emails to write better responses. It also includes some actionable tips on improving customer service skills by training your team to read more analytically, such as pulling out customer questions or reverse-engineering a customer's email.

3. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda

In his book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, actor and director Alan Alda details his quest to become a better, more empathetic communicator and teaches others how they can do the same. It’s a great resource for both customer service team members and managers on how to avoid misunderstandings in face-to-face interactions. It also includes conversation techniques based on using storytelling to communicate.

4. Customer satisfaction survey examples by HubSpot

Listening to feedback and acting on it is key to customer retention because it shows your customers you are eager to meet their needs. HubSpot’s customer satisfaction survey templates can help you collect that feedback, use it to understand how customers feel about key interactions with your company, and make changes to your processes to keep your customers satisfied.  

Productivity resources

Give your team the right tools to provide fast, efficient, and effective customer service, so they can perform at their peak and create a positive experience for your customers.

5. proven ways to improve your response time by happy Fox

In a digital world, customers expect fast responses from companies and quickly become frustrated with delays. This article from Happy Fox includes useful tips on how to improve response time, including advice on how to use automation and prioritization to answer queries more quickly.

6. Canned response examples for customer service from HelpCrunch

HelpCrunch’sexamples and templates of canned responses can help your team craft messages in advance to save time when answering commonly asked questions. The 16 templates include messaging about refunds, technical issues, and feedback on customer service.

7. Time Management 101 with on deck

This Q&A about time management and customer management with OnDeck’s customer service director and VP of customer success has great insights for managers and team leads dealing with team-wide challenges and time management. It addresses bigger-picture customer service issues, like looking at why repeat callers contact customer service and anticipating follow-up questions.

8. How Live Chat Support Makes Scaling Customer Engagement Easy by Stream

A key aspect of productivity in support is being able to handle multiple tickets at once. For that goal, there’s no better tool than live chat. Stream’s guide to using live chat support to scale your customer service engagement walks you through how to use this technology so agents can resolve issues even more quickly.

9. the effortless experience by Matthew Dixon

The Effortless Experienceis a data-backed book by Matthew Dixon that explores how creating a quick, efficient experience is what really drives customer loyalty and increases retention. The book includes many tools, templates, and tips to improve customer service skills, including ways to boost productivity for reps and reduce effort for customers.

Empathy resources

One of the most important soft skills for a customer service representative (CSR) is the ability to empathize with the customers they interact with. Understanding where your customers are coming from and appreciate their frustrations can help your team go above and beyond to provide better customer care.

10. How to become more empathetic from the New York Times

According to this New York Times article, we all live in bubbles and have trouble relating to people who are different from us. That’s why CSRs who can relate to problems and fix them will stand out to your customers. Useful advice on building more empathy includes tips like practice talking to people and admitting your own biases.

11. 7 steps for dealing with angry customers from Forbes

Every customer service agent will encounter an angry customer at some point in their career. The key is knowing how to keep your cool. These tips for dealing with angry customers from Forbes can help you deescalate even the tensest interactions and remind you to focus on solutions and not take things personally.

12. fun and powerful training games for customer service teams from Userlike

Userlike suggests using classic improv games like “Yes, and...” or customer role-play to help train your team. Improv games can help your team relax and understand where the customer is coming from, which in turn promotes empathy. These games are great for team building as well.

13. A guide to putting the “care” back in customer care from Zendesk

This complete guide to fostering good customer care in your company from Zendesk has valuable advice to help you level up your service and treat your customers the way they want to be treated. Tips include collecting data to create personalized experiences and prioritizing service quality over speed.

14. the service culture handbook by Jeff Toister

Customer service expert Jeff Toister’s book The Service Culture Handbook is a valuable step-by-step guide for managers and executives who want to build a customer-centric culture. It offers advice on how to get your business aligned around customer service and tips on how to train your employees to approach customer interactions with empathy.

Goal-tracking resources

Well-defined customer service goals help team members feel more invested in outcomes and improve their performance.

15. Customer service dashboard inspiration from Geckoboard

Dashboards keep agents updated on their performance, so they always know what they need to improve. Use these customer service dashboard examples as a guide to create your own for tracking important metrics, such as Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and First Response Time.

16. How to choose customer support KPIs that define what success looks like with geckoboard

Speaking of metrics, this guide to choosing customer support key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you figure out what success looks like for your team and which metrics will help you measure progress. One suggestion is First Response Time (FRT), which helps teams keep track of how quickly they’re replying to customers. Since most people expect speedy interactions, a fast first response time helps keep customers happy.

17. QA tools

QA tools like Aprikot and Klausapp will help you efficiently and systematically review your team’s interactions, so you can identify coaching opportunities and keep an eye on overall performance.

18. How the Staffbase Customer Care team consistently exceeds their CSAT goal from Geckoboard

This blog post has great explanations from Staffbase’s Head of Customer Care on how their team manages to regularly surpass their 97% CSAT score goal. He describes how he uses dashboards to ensure workload is evenly distributed, and how his team members only close tickets once they’ve received customer confirmation.

Process-creation resources

Put the right processes in place to save time, streamline your workflow, and help your customer service team perform more efficiently. These resources will help improve your processes, so customer concerns and feedback don’t fall through the cracks.

19. steps to a better customer success strategy by Geckoboard

This step-by-step guide will help you create a better customer success strategy. It offers actionable tips to help you reduce churn and improve customer retention. It also explains how to use personalization to add value and how scheduling regular check-ins can keep customers engaged.

20. free customer service training materials from Lessonly

Lessonly’s free customer service training materials include a training manual template, policy examples, a calendar for scheduling sessions, and suggestions for educational activities to help you create the best customer service team possible.

21. What is Customer Journey Mapping? by Salesforce

Salesforce’sguide to customer journey mapping will help you create visual representations of the interactions a customer has with your brand, which can help you understand your customers’ experiences and get more insights on how you can better serve your customers.

22. Customer Service Tools: A Checklist to Guide You into the Right Support Software from GrooveHQ

This checklist from GrooveHQ helps you make sure you have all the tools you need and the features they should have to provide stellar customer service, including what to look for in ticketing software and how to best use a single inbox for multichannel support.

Problem-solving resources

When customers contact your team, they want you to solve whatever problem they are experiencing with your product—and they want you to do it quickly. Building up your customer service team’s problem-solving abilities will help them keep customers happy and loyal to your brand.

23. Customer Service Problem Solving from Study.com

This video course on problem solving for customer service covers the processes that CSRs can use to resolve issues, with examples of problems that customer service agents encounter frequently.

24. The 5 whys analysis by Atlassian

In this blog post, Atlassian explains the 5 Whys Analysis, a useful exercise where team members look at a problem and answer “Why did this happen?” to uncover the root of the issue as a group. Practice with your team to help them get into the habit of getting to the bottom of customer issues and finding solutions.  

25. problem-solving strategies and obstacles from Verywell mind

This article from Verywell Mind looks at the different methods of problem solving from a psychological perspective and explains different possible approaches, like heuristics and trial-and-error. It can help you build problem-solving skills, and understand what common obstacles you’re likely to encounter.

26. The problem-solving framework by Robert Kaplinsky

Robert Kaplinsky’s problem-solving worksheet is designed for students, but it’s a useful framework for anyone to practice working through the steps of identifying a problem and investigating possible ways to solve it.

Bonus resources for improving customer service skills

Finally, these general resources will help agents develop their customer service skills as a whole.

27. How to improve customer service: 8 tips from top companies by Geckoboard

In this blog post, top companies Zendesk and Vyond share their advice on how to provide the best customer service possible, including setting measurable goals and offering alternative solutions to the customer.

28. What Good Customer Service Looks Like at 12 Companies by HubSpot

In this roundup, HubSpot looks at 12 companies with legendary customer service and breaks down exactly what makes them so successful at keeping their customers happy. Examples include the Ritz-Carlton going above and beyond to return a forgotten charger and how Glossier responds to customer emails. The list is filled with inspiration and takeaways for customer service teams looking to step up their game.

Improving customer service skills is an ongoing endeavor

There are always more ways for your team to improve. One good starting point is to apply the same principles with your team as you would with your customers: Talk to your team to find out where they think the gaps are and what they would like to improve. Then, work with them to create a personalized training program to build both their skills and their motivation to give your customers the best service possible.