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What is good customer service?

What is good customer service? Most customers will have a view based on their own experience but is there any definitive evidence to help service providers improve?

What is good customer service? The evidence

Well, the UK’s Customer Service Excellence standards have been developed partly from survey research, conducted by Ipsos/MORI. This research identified what matters most to customers.

There’s no real surprise that most people put one thing top of the list.

That organisations keep their promises!

Of course good service providers have known this for a long time, as evidenced by the old service saying:

it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver, than to do things the other way round.

And as with many an old saying, there is much truth and wisdom to be found in that sound-bite. In fact, as we can see from the research, it’s grounded in fact!

What is good customer service? The standards

The Customer Service Excellence standards are a set of benchmark standards devised to encourage good customer throughout the UK. They are based on a sound mix of research, experience and, perhaps most importantly, an emphasis on customer insight. After all, when asking, what is good customer service, its customer insight that will provide the real answers.

What is good customer service?

So what’s the main message for service providers? Get the things that matter most right, and you are well on your way to providing good customer service. Here, in order of importance, are the keys to good customer service:

  • Delivery
  • Timeliness
  • Information
  • Professionalism
  • Staff attitude
  • Physical environment (if customers need to attend your premises in order to experience the service)

What is good customer service? Remembering the happy customer “to-do” list

Ok, they are the key factors that have informed industry benchmark standards about customer service, but what does that mean for service providers? What does it mean for happy managers hoping to serve and keep happy customers. How can we create good customer service? Well, like the old saying, it’s probably most useful if we boil the research and standards down to the basics. So here is our “to-do” list, the essentials of providing good customer service:

  • Do what you promised you’d do.
  • Do it on time – don’t keep customers waiting.
  • Inform customers about what you’re doing. Give customers the information they need, when they need it.
  • Do it professionally, and with a caring, friendly attitude.
  • Do a bit more: surprise the customer with something beyond their expectations.
  • Do put things right quickly (and with care) when they go wrong.


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In short, try to be an organisation that customers find it easy and enjoyable to do business with. If you’d like to read more about the Customer Service Excellence standard, just follow the link to their website:

The Customer Service Excellence standard is “a mix of research, management and operational models and, most importantly, practical experience of providing services. The standard has particular focus on delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism and staff attitude. There is also emphasis placed on developing customer insight, understanding the user’s experience and robust measurement of service satisfaction.”

What good customer service? Showing some uncommon leadership?

Chapter 4 of our new book, Uncommon Leadership, has a real focus on good customer service. Entitled: Serving colleagues and customers through common touch leadership, this chapter looks at the idea of leaders who serve. And by this we mean serving both customers and employees.

“It’s a chapter about upside-down thinking. To lead you need to serve. To build customer loyalty you need to be loyal.”

That’s not a common answer to the question: what is good customer service? But isn’t that what you’d expect from a book on uncommon leadership!



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