10 Do’s and Don’ts of Excellent Customer Service

These days, the phrases “go above and beyond for the best customer service experience”, “the customer is always right” and “the customer is king” have become one of the most cliched and repeated in marketing. Business owners, marketing directors and managers across-the-board keep on being focused on delivering over-the-top customer service experience. And yet, poor customer service still exists and unfortunately seems all too common. Are we perhaps overlooking some fundamentals in the pursuit of excellence?

Today, I would like to take you to the basics and share with you a short and clear list of customer service essentials. Most of them are fairly common knowledge, and they won’t take you much effort to follow, but still they are absolutely critical to ensure you perform your job professionally and serve your customers right.

5 Fundamental Do’s of Customer Service

1. Respect your customer

Any relationship, be it a personal or a business one, starts with respect. As Dale Carnegie stated, one of the key principles for building relationships is to make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely. Customer service is all about making customers feel valuable and important. Any customer deserves your full attention and polite, friendly attitude. That’s the easiest way to show that you really care and generate a wholesome experience that lasts .

2. Be Honest

Nothing destroys trust faster than broken promises. So always do what you promised. Be fair about prices, additional fees and extra charges. Establish clear return and refund policies. Deliver on time, or even earlier. Respond and follow-up when you say you will. Provide the services you say you provide in your correspondence and in your marketing. As the old adage goes, honesty is the best policy. It certainly holds true for good customer service.

3. Take Responsibility

Professionalism in customer service implies that you are ready to take responsibility for the problems or negative experiences that customers are having with your company, products or services. This means that you, as a front-line company representative, are ready to sincerely apologize to a customer on behalf of your business, even when a problem or a situation that caused customer’s frustration was not your fault at all. Apologize and do your best to make sure the issue gets fixed as quickly and smoothly as possible.

4. Always Put Yourself in The Customer’s Shoes

Have you ever tried putting yourself in the place of the customer before addressing their request? It probably comes with experience. I mean, personal experience of your own where you encountered unsatisfactory customer service. Could you recall how it feels to get frustrated or neglected when you look for support and assistance? Would you let your customers feel this way, too? Let this unpleasant situation teach you something – always think of how you look like from a customer’s perspective.

5. Express Your Gratitude

Words of gratitude will make your customers feel appreciated for their loyalty to your brand. Saying “Thank You” to the people who support your business won’t take you much effort but it will definitely show how grateful you are that they choose your product or service. Also, it shows you appreciate the opportunity to be helpful and provide assistance to the customer.

5 Essential Don’ts of Customer Service

1. Don’t Make Things Overly Complicated

Never underestimate the inexperience of your customers. Today’s consumers are much more sophisticated, experienced and technically savvy, but they still expect that the process of contacting your customer service is easy and straightforward. You need to make sure your customers have easy access to support when it is needed. It goes without saying that your customer service needs to include several, if not all, of the tools available today, including phone, e-mail, Live Chat, FAQs, self-service, social media channels and more.

2. Don’t Be Indifferent

Indifference kills customer service. It means you just don’t care anymore. Yes, you can call it an occupational hazard and attribute it to dozens or hundreds of problems you encounter on a daily basis. But for me, it is an alarming indicator. Things should not run their course this way for a customer service professional. Your job is to take care and make any customer’s problem your own problem. I recommend reading these 2 posts here and here if you would like to dig into this problem deeper and how you can solve it.

3. Don’t Treat Customers as Transactions

As Apple’s former retail chief Ron Johnson once put it, “Care about a customer’s heart, not just her pocketbook.” In other words, don’t treat people coming to your website or office as one-time transaction, do all your best to build strong and long-lasting relationship. Show a true interest in doing business with them and stay in touch to nurture the relationship.

4. Don’t Ignore Customer Feedback

Make sure you listen to your customers. They are the people who want your company to perform better, so let them share their opinion about their experience with you, keep open to any kind of suggestions or feedback they might have. Let them know that you really care about what they think and expect of you. Putting customers’ thoughts into the focus of your business strategy is a good practice. And it usually pays off in spades.

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Complaints

No matter how hard you try, you can’t satisfy all your customers all the time. Complaints are inevitable, so don’t discourage them. As Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller stated in their book, “A complaint is a gift“. In other words, any complaint is an opportunity to find and fix a problem. The more complaints the better, as they direct your attention to the areas that need improvement.

What Would You Add?

Are there any other fundamental DOs and DON’Ts in customer service that you would like to add? Feel free to share your thoughts as a comment below. And as always, thank you for reading our blog!


Julia Lewis


  1. What stood out especially in this post was recognition of the ‘transactional’ attitude so many businesses take. Not in the products or services they provide, but in the manner in which they operate.

    Imagine the lifetime value a customer may represent to your company (and vice versa) when you think longer term, past a single sale to being a go-to resource. It’s really quite remarkable how many businesses are so transaction focussed that they lose business in the midst of the sell. #dontbethatbusiness

    1. Thank you for the great comment, Randy. I agree, treating customers as transactions or wallets, is absolutely inacceptable. We all have been taught that it costs nothing to be courteous and respectful, but it always pays. And that’s especially true today, when a single negative feedback in social media could hurt brand’s reputation and simply ruin all other efforts. Every customer interaction counts (even if it doesn’t include making a sale or purchase)

  2. The best advice I got was to treat every customer like you would like to be treated. In addition, watch body language. A lot can be said about yourself and how friendly or open you are by the way you stand or cross your arms etc. You could be sending a message to your customers without saying a thing.

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Kelly. I agree, treating customers like you would like to be treated is definitely the “golden rule” to ensure you serve your customers properly. And of course, watching your and customers’ body language is very important too to convey the right message and properly connect with your audience

  3. One of the first things I have to say is probably one of the most important things I can add to the lists of “Do & Don’t’s” is do NOT have a computerized call go out to a client or prospect if you want to keep them or sign them on… In this day and age of technology and having to be many places at the same time, I don’t know about you but I will not be making that mistake again. If you ever had to contact someone no matter what it was for, personal, business, a simple question or to complain,
    the absolute worse thing in the world is to have to wait on hold or explain to a computer that doesn’t know what you are saying and it is in English. I know I do appreciate speaking to a real person even if it is only to leave a message. Your clients and prospects will appreciate it too!

  4. I appreciate the article! Your thoughts accurate.
    I would like to ad my observations. Today the prevailing attitude of customers is that everything revolves around them and they are right. Without them no company would be in business.
    Therefore it is essential to understand human behavior and learn how to deal with people of all sorts. I’ve taught my people to control their emotions, which takes self-control and humility. I also helped them to appreciate the reason for them to be swift about hearing and slow about speaking. For example, when a customer has a complainant, allow them to speak their mind and do not interrupt them. The worst mistake that I hear people make is interrupt and try to defend the company without getting all the facts. We know a sincere apology goes along way in defusing a tense situations.
    However, I’ve called in to companies and receive an apology or the issue at hand, but it was like when a parent tells a child to apologize to their sibling and the sibling says the words “I’m sorry” as they are looking off into space. The parent knows and the sibling that was wronged knows that it wasn’t sincere. That is exactly what I got.
    Needless to say, it always reminds me that those that we engage can here it in our voice if we are speaking with them verbally. I am also aware of the fact that it is harder when the person on the other end cannot her voice inflections, because we are communicating via chat, text or email.
    Relationships are built on understanding and trust and that doesn’t mean we will always agree. but because I respect people as a human beings, I willing to listen to understand them.
    Building bridges and relationships is one of the keys to successful leaders and companies. it is never going to be perfect, because none of us are, so we strive to treat people like like human beings, like we want to be treated, it is surprising how far that will take you!

    Bryant McNeil

    Your Success Is In The Connections You Make

    1. Thank you for the brilliant comment, Bryant. That’s so true – relationships and connections we manage to build with our customers determine our success

  5. I would also add: Give accurate information to customers. I’m just sick of getting general info that doesn’t actually help me solve the issue.

    1. Thank you for reading, Keith. I agree that it’s critical to provide customers with relevant information, keep it short and to the point. There’s nothing more frustrating to get flooded with canned responses that have nothing to do with your specific case.

  6. The one that I really have to agree with is to be honest! Even when there is a problem most people will react well to honesty. We stress this to our customer service agents, don’t lie to cover up an issue, tell the truth and tell it from the start.

    If you are going to fail in some way or another giving the customer as much warning as possible is essential, we find that they often respond with “that’s OK, just keep me updated then”.

    Honesty and communication – the pillars of great customer service!

    1. I am glad you agree with my point, Fraser. Thank you for the comment. Stretching the reality doesn’t help customers. Things can only get worse if your customer service reprs fail to put it squarely.

  7. I like that you suggest to be honesty with the customer. I can see why this would help create a positive relationship between the company and client. I like to tell the customer what they honestly can expect. This way, when it doesn’t go as they would hope, they don’t feel deceived by me giving an incorrect response.

  8. The most important aspect of the business is the service. Without it you can have the best product or service, the most beautiful store, to the best location but your results will not be the best. Excellent post with very useful tips.

    1. Hello, Andy. Yes, customer service people need care too. Hope this article has shed some light on how you can improve quality of your job and life

  9. Respecting the customer is a great possibility to make bring new customers to our company. Your site is great at teaching us how to be even better. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Vinicius. I am happy to hear that our Customer Service blog helps improve your business operations

  10. Hi, Julia. Thank you for sharing what you know. I think every bit of information in your article rings true when it comes to providing customer service. Customer experience has evolved from purely the quality of customer interactions to a powerful marketing tool that gets your business the loyal following it deserves. Think customer retention.

    You can have the best product or service in the market but if you lack the foundation in providing positive customer experience, your business will eventually fall apart. This is why respect, honesty, empathy, responsibility and customer appreciation should be observed during each and every interaction.

  11. Every organization must have to follow these Do’s and Don’ts as these are the main things what customers exactly wants from a company. Really nice information.

  12. This is a really good post. I own a small business and these are things that I take very seriously and work on in my day to day work. I also work with my employees to help them understand how important customer service is. Thanks for the post!

  13. Thanks for the kind words! All organization must have to follow these Do’s and Don’ts as these are the main things what customers exactly wants from a company.

  14. I appreciate and salute you, for your nice article. you explain every step nicely. I shared your think and linked to my website for my readers. Thanks.

  15. As a customer service manager , this article has many donts in the do section . apologizing to your customers is not a way of taking responsibility , it is an overused phrase that customers are tired of hearing , take responsibility by actually solving the issue for the customer within your means . Follow up with the customer and unsure theyre satisfaction .

    Plus if your going to put up an article , do you not know how to edit ?
    ” attribute it to dozens or hundreds of problemds ”

    wow . unsatisfied with the half arsed information you are now leading people to dissatisfying customer service .

    1. Estelle, thanks a lot for your comment. We updated an article so now there is no error in writing. We know, that there are much more different ways to reduce customer negativity, but still we all should be polite that is why we believe we need to apologize. All our articles are based on our own experience in Customer Support sphere.

  16. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information specially the last part I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

  17. I would add that if you have made a mistake, own it! Never tell a client you forgot about them even if it were true. Be apologetic, and if they are frustrated be understanding of it. By saying things such as; I’m so sorry I was distracted and overlooked your order. Im so sorry that my oversight has caused you delays, How may I fix this and make it right? I didn’t realize I had over looked your order, I am so sorry and will do my best to fix this issue.
    Own your mistakes, by tell a customer that you forgot about them you are actually telling them they hold no value to you. You may forget an order.You May forget a delivery. You may overlook an item. You may be late. You may NOT forget a Customer. Customers make or break a business and word of mouth is wildfire, always own your mistake and never blame it on the Customer or another employee. OWN IT.

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