What Awkward Eye Contact Taught Me About Customer Service Best Practices

Pick your favorite store. Let’s go shopping together.

I’m imagining the Apple store. The counters are dust-free, the newest gadget is gleaming, and the dulcet tones of the latest indie-pop hit is on the airwaves. Oh, and the air smells like…innovation. As we enter, we see the nearest Apple associate. He and his primary-color-wearing buddies lock eyes with us as we walk through the door. 

Pause scene. 

No matter what store you imagined, we’ve all had this moment. I’m officially dubbing it the “retail eye-lock”. In this awkward eye-contact of a moment, each of us wants something different from the person responsible for good customer service. And each customer service rep is trained to respond in a certain way. 

The reality is, that good customer service looks different for each of us. For me, quality customer service might be approaching me to strike up a conversation or offering a suggestion. But for you, the best customer experience might be letting you shop in peace, without disruption. In short—the best examples of good customer service are all contextual. It takes emotional intelligence to read the customer, and respond accordingly. 

So if the best customer service is contextual, what customer service best practices and customer service skills should we train reps on—whether in person or via phone or chat in a contact center. 


What are Customer Service Best Practices?

  • Going above and beyond for the customer
  • Dealing with upset customers
  • Understanding the larger mission
  • Cultivating active promoters
  • Asking for feedback
  • Acting with emotional intelligence.

There are scores of invaluable customer service skills (you can read about many of them in our Customer Service Training Guide), but finding universal best practices is easier said than done. Here are two quick videos from my teammates Alex and Joanna to sum up some of these essential customer service practices. 


Let’s get a quick summary here: 

  1. Tell stories about going above and beyond for the customer. Ask reps to share examples of good customer service skills at play, with real-life customers. 
  2. Share what NOT to do with upset customers. By giving clear phrases or topics to avoid, reps can more easily steer away from troublesome conversations.

A quick sidenote: Here at Lessonly, we believe in highlighting what’s working—it’s one of our values. We want to spend more time talking about the things that are working than those that aren’t. But as you’ll notice from the two examples above, BOTH good and bad customer service examples are helpful teaching tools for call center or customer service agents. Providing excellent customer service examples allows reps to model their behavior after their peers, while stories of bad customer experiences guide reps away from thorny situations. They’re both valuable in training—we’d just vote for giving more air time to the examples of good customer service situations!

  1. Teach reps how NPS works and why the company needs active promoters. NPS is a little complicated, but at the very least, every rep should understand the deeper value of cultivating active promoters. 
  2. Teach reps how to ask people to take a survey. Feedback, feedback, feedback is essential for customer service success—both from internal folks (peers, managers, trainers, etc.) as well as external (customers). Positive feedback for good customer service is far too rare—so learn how to ask for survey feedback, early and often! 

Let’s dive into video two!


In every customer service interaction, emotional intelligence and soft skills matter—a lot. Learning how to provide good customer service starts with empathy, understanding, and practice. 

  1. Storytelling: Our brains are coded to remember stories. Tell good ones (examples of good customer service skills) and bad ones (ones with lackluster customer service standards). Think about your own stories—or repeat ones you’ve heard from others. All these are data points that guide customer service reps to behave differently when they actually put on the headset or set foot on the floor. 
  2. Shadowing: Follow another rep around! Learn what they do and listen to all their conversations, so that you can experience first-hand how they do their job and interact with customers. The best examples of good customer service skills are likely sitting right around you. 
  3. Customer Role-Plays: Finally, put your customer service skills to the test. All the greatest teams in sports and music practice—why shouldn’t customer service teams? Roleplay customer interactions, get feedback, and continuously improve. That’s how you get examples of good customer service, over and over again. 

The “retail eye-lock”: Coming to a customer service team near you

Every time a customer interaction begins, a version of the “retail eye-lock” takes place. The call center agent or customer service rep or retail agent musters their emotional intelligence to decide exactly how to interact with the customer in front of them. 

These, like so many other customer service examples, are moments we can train for. Let’s help our teams Do Better Work and prepare them, both operationally and relationally, to offer the best customer experience. Every 👏single 👏time 👏.

What is customer service to you?

You’ll need more than just customer service tips to handle the “retail eye-lock” with excellence. Building a world-class customer service team takes both learning and practice, and Lessonly can help you do just that. We want your team to have thousands of examples of good customer service skills—and we’d like to be a part of it. 

Think Lessonly just might help your team? Click here to get a quick look at what we do. 

Not sure yet? Here are 5 things you should know about Lessonly!

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