The debate: What is the key to great customer service?

A panel of experts debates just what makes excellent customer service.

josh-hi-res[2]Joshua March
CEO and founder, Conversocial

Three years ago, “social customer service” wasn’t even a term – only a small number of highly innovative brands offered real customer service operations on social channels. Today, almost all companies recognise that social media is a key part of the multi-channel customer journey; however, many are not delivering the level of service customers expect – 42 per cent of consumers complaining on social media expect a 60-minute response time.

The secret to meeting customer demand is a team of agents using a dedicated social customer service tool that is fully integrated into the contact centre. These tools are designed for agent effectiveness, can innovate quickly and respond to changes without constraint.

Your agents should have strong customer service skills and be empowered to communicate in a creative way, while sticking to key brand messages. To ensure efficient communication between departments, develop a playbook outlining how your company delivers social customer service as a go-to resource agents can refer to daily. 

020 7045 0970


Sue_Oakes_180[2]Susan Oakes
Head of customer services, Dignity

To us, the key to providing excellent customer service lies in the skills of our knowledgeable advisers, who take great pride in helping people at one of the most difficult times in their lives.

We believe that having the confidence to deliver outstanding service comes not only from experience but also from in-depth training and ongoing support. Our advisers are coached and mentored to help them build on both their personal and professional skills.

Great customer service comes from a motivated team who are passionate about what they do. We understand that, to make our customers feel valued, our staff need to feel appreciated and we place great emphasis on encouraging a positive working environment.

Allowing advisers to make decisions and encouraging them to go that extra mile in order to problem solve leads to empowered “thinking performers” who seek continuous improvement and strive to exceed customer expectation on every single call. 


charlotte avivaCharlotte Moran
Operations director, Aviva UK Direct

Having a vision firmly centred on the customer is critical. Our purpose is to provide the right product for the right price, which suits the customer’s needs. We’ve invested time in getting the team bought into putting customers at the heart of everything we do. This isn’t something that we just say: it’s something that our people live and breathe.

We don’t have targets – instead we focus on delivering what the customer is asking from us. If we concentrate on this, then we believe that results will come naturally. 

The role of our team leaders is to work closely with their team, listening to calls and giving continual coaching and feedback. We focus on how the process is working for both customers and our frontline teams. This allows us to quickly pick up on anything that is impacting on our ability to deliver and enables us to rectify issues quickly – customers tell us what we need to be doing! 

0800 001 4700

Matthew_V2[2]Matthew Valance
CEO, HGS Europe

Great customer service is about alignment and connectedness. Think how powerful it is when you have a service encounter where you feel the other person really gets you – they understand you, and your concern. They intuitively know how to fix your problem and leave you feeling better about them, the organisation and the brand.

This doesn’t happen by magic or even by having a great service adviser – though it helps. It happens because the organisation has put some hard thought into creating a service culture and capabilities that make a difference. This is where the alignment comes in, for the business and its customers – aligning expectations, processes, service levels, staff engagement, technologies and business partners.

And when you get this well-considered alignment of ideals and practices, then you get the connectedness – that makes you feel closer, more trusting and engaged with the business. Which is why better connected, aligned organisations deliver better financial performance. Precisely why great customer service really is worth working for.

0845 194 9295


Richard Farrell-CTO[4]Richard Farrell
Chief technical officer, Netcall

The customer engagement revolution is affecting every organisation, in every sector and in every industry. Addressing the following drivers must be a board-level strategic priority:

  1. New forms of less intimate interaction: lower levels of intimacy combined with internet-based communications are a significant business risk.
  2. Increased demands and expectations: customers are choosing the channel and how and when they engage, and require a unified response.
  3. Less loyal customers: a customer for life is no longer a given, loyalty now needs to be earned and maintained.
  4. Mobile customers: mass mobile technology adoption is forcing new infrastructure and fundamental changes to the engagement experience.

The contact centre is at the heart of engagement. To further understand and embrace the customer engagement revolution, download the white paper at

0330 333 6100