This guide is based on Mixergy’s course with Sarah Hatter.

Sarah Hatter realized she was providing lousy support when a customer complained about her canned answers to his questions, so she changed the way customers felt about her company and even got them to promote her products to their friends. It was all done by providing great customer support, so we invited her to teach you how to do it.

Sarah is the founder of CoSupport, which offers support training, help documentation, and outsourced support for web and mobile apps.

Here are the actionable highlights from the course.

1. Hire outgoing, experienced people so your staff will interact well with customers

Sarah’s friend had never worked in customer support for a web company, but she was a perfect fit for the job because she was empathetic and she had fielded complaints when she worked in real estate management.

Take Action:
Hire caring and energetic people who have worked at jobs that required lots of face-to-face interaction, like retail or bartending.

2. Devote time to customer support so you won’t start to resent your customers

Sarah says that one entrepreneur should have spent 30 minutes a day answering customers’ questions, but he didn’t so he felt annoyed and overwhelmed by the 20 emails that piled up in his inbox.

Take Action:
Set a time to respond to customers every day, and don’t try to reply to them when you’re busy with other work.

3. Add a help section to your website so you won’t get the same questions over and over

Sarah told one client, TurboScan, that if they had put a help section on the website, customers could have found the answers to some of their questions, but they didn’t so they were buried in support emails.

Take Action:
If your customers ask you a certain question at least once a day, use help desk software like Zendesk or UserVoice to post the question and the answer on your website, and illustrate the answer with a screenshot and an arrow.

4. Write friendly replies to all comments to show customers you value them

Sarah likes how Taco Bell responds to customers on Twitter because they use a humorous tone even when people gripe about the food, and they don’t ignore anyone.

Take Action:
Reply quickly to all your customers’ emails and messages on social media sites, and keep your replies light and friendly even if you think someone’s baiting you.

5. Track complaints so you’ll know which product features to change

Sarah thought that lots of customers were unhappy about a product feature, but when she labeled customers’ emails about the feature and counted them, she found that there weren’t that many people complaining about it.

Take Action:
Label customers’ emails according to the problems they report or the requests they make, and use the analytics tools in your help desk software to see which complaints you get most frequently.

Written by Sarah Brodsky, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz