best customer service

Best customer service of 2016: Companies that simply killed it

Customer Happiness

This year on the Aircall blog, we’ve looked at quite a few ways how to improve your business’ customer service. We’ve cherry-picked the very best apps to empower your team. We’ve looked at which skills your team should cultivate. Now let’s draw inspiration from companies out there which provided the best customer service this year.

With every customer service champion, we’ll look at what they can teach us about improving our own customer service, and cultivating our own customers’ happiness.

Best customer service of 2016: all-star division

It would be remiss to put together a roundup of companies acing their customer service without mentioning at least a couple of the heavyweights. Ranking high is far from a novel experience for these companies. Nevertheless, we feel that continued excellence should be acknowledged.

Amazon

best customer service

Amazon consistently tops the polls when it comes to great customer service. Their omnichannel customer service system offers immediate and full refunds, no questions asked. Customers can also look to self-service, via the forums or Amazon Co-Pilot. In short, their customer service is expeditious and complete, and treats the user with care and respect.

I would define Amazon by our big ideas, customer centricity, putting the customer at the center of everything we do

Jeff Bezos - CEO and Founder of Amazon.com

This month, Amazon is testing a grocery store in Seattle, without checkout counters or lines. By using their smartphone as a turnstile, shoppers can connect to their Amazon account and make purchases by simply selecting items and walking out of the store. This experiment marks a new development for brick-and-mortar stores, setting a new standard for a low-effort, frictionless shopping experience.

Indeed, Amazon is one of the most customer-focused companies out there. They use collected data for personalized recommendations, they foster transparency and trust between them and their users, and they consistently go the extra mile to delight their customers. Consequently, they enjoy an ongoing and well-deserved reputation for customer service excellence.

What we can learn from them:

Amazon exemplifies so many successful ways to implement measures focused around the customer, to simplify every aspect of customer service, and to maximize satisfaction. If a large company can manage to be so efficient and yet so humane, it’s something everyone can try to emulate.

Apple

best customer service

The Apple brand has inspired the type of customer loyalty which sometimes borders on the rabid. From the outset, co-founder Steve Jobs put emphasis on the customer experience.

You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.

Steve Jobs - Co-founder of Apple

Apple products strive to better that which users didn’t even know needed improvement. With a focus on building intuitive products and providing quality training for users, Apple mitigates the need for reactive customer service.

A visit to the Genius bar gives you the feeling of talking shop with an Apple fan, rather than an employee. Apple products are innovative and easy to use, Apple service is quick and efficient, but the real soul of the company is its employees. The latter are highly knowledgeable, and committed to passing on that knowledge in an empathetic way. Training users and providing an amazing customer experience of proactive customer service.

What we can learn from them:

With stores all over the world and thousands of employees, Apple still manages to demonstrate empathetic, knowledgeable customer service. Their entire customer experience is supremely user-friendly. By training knowledgeable customer service employees, and coaching them to be empathetic, Apple makes its entire customer experience seamless, and most of all, effortless.

Best customer service of 2016: “our own pick” division

And now for the players we felt deserved recognition, regardless of the size of their operation.

@SpotifyCares

best customer service

The Webby Awards honor “excellence on the web”. In the 2016 edition, music streaming service Spotify stole the show, winning a total of thirteen accolades. This includes one for best customer support, which they have snapped up two years in a row.

@SpotifyCares is a multi-channel customer support account. On top of fielding queries about content, dealing with tech glitches, and providing usage tips, @SpotifyCares also serves as an aggregator of sorts, collecting content which could interest its followers. Spotify is known for providing tailored suggestions to its users in the form of playlists, and @SpotifyCares holds up its end. Often individual twitter users will be thanked for their feedback with a custom playlist or recommendation.

As a result, their twitter feed boasts a plethora of positive testimonials and professions of love. These genuine commendations from delighted users are tasteful way to put customer advocated in the spotlight.

What we can learn from them:

@Spotify Cares has shown that taking full advantage of the immediacy and versatility of Twitter can be a great way to provide excellent customer service. Their dedication to keeping a finger on the pulse of their users is admirable. They exemplify the importance of staying close to your customers’ needs and desires, and thinking of a special gesture to delight them.

Dollar Shave Club

best customer service

This summer, Unilever bought the Californian shaving product e-commerce start-up for roughly five times its expected yearly revenue. Not that their razors aren’t great, and not that their prices aren’t alluring, but Dollar Shave Club’s product isn’t revolutionary. Likewise, no other e-commerce subscription startups are being snapped up by the likes of Unilever. So why is Dollar Shave Club such a valuable acquisition?

The answer is this: in their four years of existence, they have managed to build a powerful brand. Their playful, funny ads have gone viral several times over. They even opted to buy television airtime, a risky move for a start-up.

However, the ads are a perfect example of how making a strong impression can bring in customers. By making us laugh, Dollar Shave Club has knit an emotional bond with people, and turned a significant fraction of them into paying customers. The likeability and viral quality of their advertising has given them a favorable reputation which they have leveraged into success.

What we can learn from them:

Dollar Shave Club has created an emotional bond with customers and bystanders alike, which is no easy feat. Their strong branding has made them unforgettable. Such an emotional attachment on the part of subscribers is very valuable to any business.

Slack

best customer service

Slack is a collaborative tool with roughly 3 million users. It’s only been around two years, but its users are so passionate that Slack has become an indispensable part of many teams’ work day. That’s why when Slack went down ten month ago, users blew up twitter.

Slack is a young company, and one without the resources some other, bigger sites have at their disposal in the case of an outage. However, the public outcry in reaction to their outage was comparable to losing access to a service like Google or Twitter. The way Slack handled this challenge was admirable. They sent a statement to a website which had made light of their predicament:

“With sincere thanks for your patience and apologies for the disruption, we wanted to confirm that Slack is back. The incident was initially triggered by a third party network outage, which caused instability in our core services. We resolved the instability by implementing a number of measures, including provisioning additional hardware and conducting a full restart of some key services. We apologize for the inconvenience and are committed to doing better in the future!”

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Slack handled this adverse event gracefully, and honestly. Their commitment to transparency was made even more apparent by their addition of a page keeping track of downtime and bugs in real-time. Transparency should be a key component of every business customer service relationship. But it’s not, and that’s why measures like the ones Slack has taken are so laudable.

What we can learn from them:

Slack’s involvement for transparency should be an example for more companies. Since they are forthcoming with even sensitive or damaging information, Slack demonstrates that being honest can benefit businesses’ reputations and boost customer happiness.

FishBrain

best customer service

FishBrain is a social media app for anglers which has been dubbed “Facebook for fishing”. Launched in 2012, the app aims to build connections between fishermen, and allows them to share each others’ great catches. FishBrain syncs geological and meteorological data which every uploaded catch, and uses it to predict in real time which fish are close by and what the fishing conditions are like. The app cultivates its niche authenticity with great attention to detail.

On top of its appeal to hobby anglers, FishBrain has become invaluable to many fishing tour captains. Because they can share impressive catches and ideal conditions, tour captains can promote their services. Highly rated captains appear on top of a list  which prospective clients can peruse, and the booking system integrates seamlessly into the app. Thus, FishBrain has picked a niche market, and given its users an easy marketing platform and the potential for strong branding, on top of a useful service. The result is a growing number of die-hard users, who use the app because it caters to their very specific goals.

What we can learn from them

FishBrain has found its niche demographic, and figured out the way to best serve its specific interests. Their authenticity and unabashed, competent “nerdiness” show that once you have a great product and present it to the right customers, providing great service comes naturally. Thus, FishBrain knows its audience, and goes all out to satisfy it.

AdEspresso

best customer service

It can be tricky to make the most of Facebook advertising even for experienced marketers, never mind for businesses just starting out. That’s where AdEspresso comes in. They help users maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns, shrinking the workload and boosting the results.

Also, their customer support team has been using their great content to bring in potential customers. After analyzing the data relevant to their customers’ usage, they noticed that several weren’t able to successfully lead a campaign. AdEspresso also realized that if customers weren’t sure how to best use their product, they wouldn’t get the most out of its potential. Consequently, they were careful to add value to every customer interaction. AdEspresso’s team asked the users directly with what they could use more help.

Thus, the University was born. It provides tutorials, training material, and actionable tips, so that every user can make the most of their subscription. By getting involved in their customers’ actual use of their product, AdEspresso trains users to be better advertisers. Customer empowerment and training are at the center of the support team’s goals; and thus AdEspresso’s success is linked to their users’.

What we can learn from them:

AdEspresso knows that one key to remarkable customer service is to enable customer success. By savvily using collected data, they educate their users on how to get the most out of their product, rather than going around putting out fires with disgruntled users. Training is a great way to defuse customer support problems before they even arise.

Captain Train

best customer service

Captain Train is a start-up dedicated to offering the lowest prices for train tickets to French customers. Since 2012, they have had a long-standing reputation for excellent customer service. This was especially remarkable in their field, where neither speed nor efficiency were voyages-sncf.fr’s, their direct and better established competitor, strong suit.

Captain Train committed to answering queries and solving issues within two hours of opening a ticket. Therefore, they corresponded with users over email directly, in a remarkably personable way. Even as they expanded dramatically, they scaled their operation without ever sacrificing the availability and competence of their customer service.

Earlier this year, head of customer support Jonathan Lefèvre spoke of Captain Train’s “obsession” with customer service. Their unwavering dedication made them immensely popular, disrupting a monolithic industry. Their popularity culminated in their acquisition this year by the British transportation company Trainline.

What we can learn from them:

Captain Train artfully juggles proactive and reactive customer support, in a way that seems seamless and always relevant to the customer. So any business could benefit from encouraging its customer service team to be as available and efficient, and as willing to outdo themselves.

And there’s our roundup for this year. The companies we cited certainly aren’t the only ones who excelled this year, but we felt that their efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed. In any case, we’re looking forward to witnessing the achievements which will make the list next year!

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