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What Is Customer Service?

Customer service is the one-on-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company that is selling it. Most retailers see this direct interaction as a critical factor in ensuring buyer satisfaction and encouraging repeat business.

Even today, when much of customer care is handled by automated self-service systems, the option to speak to a human is seen as necessary to most businesses. It is a key aspect of servant-leadership.

Most companies have a team of people who never meet or greet the people who buy their products. Customer service representatives are the people who are in direct contact with the buyers. The buyers’ perceptions of the company and the product are shaped in part by their experience in dealing with that person.

  • Recent innovations have focused on automating customer service systems, but the human element is indispensable.
  • Customer service representatives are the face of your much larger team, most of whom will never directly interact with your customers.
  • Good customer service is critical to business success, ensuring brand loyalty one customer at a time.

Many companies work hard to increase their customer satisfaction levels. While for decades, businesses in many industries have sought to reduce personnel costs by automating their processes to the greatest extent possible, customer service is the one area that automation has yet to fully mimic. Many companies have implemented systems online and by phone that answer as many questions or resolve as many problems as they can without a human presence, but there are customer service issues for which human interaction is indispensable.

Most businesses recognise the importance of providing outstanding customer service. Courteous and empathetic interaction with a trained customer service representative can mean the difference between losing or retaining a customer. Customer service should be a one-stop process for the consumer whenever possible.

Good Customer Service

Successful small business owners understand the need for good customer service. Larger businesses research how they can offer better services. Some basic conclusions about the key components include:

  • Timely attention to issues raised by customers is critical. Requiring a customer to wait in line or sit on hold sours an interaction before it begins.
  • Customer service should be a single-step process. If a customer calls a helpline, the representative should whenever possible follow the problem through to its resolution.
  • If a customer must be transferred to another department, the original representative should follow up with the customer to ensure that the problem was solved.
  • Customer service representatives must be accessible, knowledgeable, and courteous. They require excellent listening skills and a willingness to talk through a resolution. Training in conflict resolution can be beneficial.
  • Strong speaking skills are important. For phone staff, this means speaking clearly and slowly while maintaining a calm demeanour even if the customer doesn’t.
  • Customer service representatives should be fully informed and have the latest information about the company’s products and policies.
  • Periodically the customer service experience you are providing needs to be assessed to ensure that it’s an asset to the company.
  • Consider conducting regular surveys to give customers the chance to provide feedback about the service they receive and suggest areas for improvement.

Mobile Services

The first and most difficult factor about online customer service is the multiplicity of channels. Today’s customers expect to get service through whatever app or device they are using at that moment, be it a mobile device or a laptop, a social media site, text app, or live chat.

The focus has been on packaging how-to content and how to offer resources that are designed for self-service. Increasingly sophisticated data analytics also are being used to identify dissatisfied or low-engagement customers.

Your eCommerce business requires some form of customer service, be it live chat, email, phone or social media. Connecting with customers is tipped to be one of the biggest driving forces in online business success in 2020. If you have the resources in place now, you will find that scaling your venture becomes easier as you provide your customers with a knowledgeable support team who understand your goals, policies and culture. While the customer might not always be right, they should always be able to speak with you, and if they can’t, they will decide to seek out businesses who are willing to be available to answer their needs.