What is Customer Service?
Customer service is the assistance provided to customers before, during and after purchase. An organization wanting to provide error-free customer service will invest as much money on it as they do on aspects such as product development or sales and marketing. Organizations which provide spectacular customer service tend to be more popular among their clientele than their competitors.
Good customer service is the foundation of any successful organization. It’s that one entity that complements every other aspect of customer outreach including promotional and branding activities. Better customer service will lead to an improved Net Promoter Score, which is an indicator of superior brand shareability and recommendations. A good customer experience is built by giving structure to all the customer interaction points according to organizational culture or need for digitization or any such components. Aligning various customer-facing processes to create an enhanced customer experience might end up consuming a significant amount of dedicated time and effort from an organization’s management as well as other employees.
Importance of a good Customer Service:
“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.” – Zappos’ founder Tony Hsieh
Customers report their problems expecting to get them solved and return satisfied every single time. To survive the test of time, that’s the level of customer service an organization should strive to be capable of providing to the clientele. Reports suggest that 3/4th of customers expect a response within five minutes of them raising a query online. With an increase in the number of organizations focusing on providing excellent customer service, each and every organization is trying to prioritize customer interaction touchpoints that create a comprehensive customer experience. The way an organization deals with customer issues and creates a better customer experience is a governing factor in its success or failure.
Providing competent and timely customer service in addition to providing technologically advanced products and services helps an organization to ensure success. Connecting with the target audience at various levels will build an extensive customer experience. Providing products and services that do not match customer experience are a key to reduced sales and customers may end up spreading this bad experience among their contacts which can cause harm to reputation in the market.
A happy customer is always a source for better business, so, focus on developing a pleasant experience for the customer everytime they come across a hurdle in products for them to stay loyal to the organization.
Why is a happy customer a source for better business? – Word of mouth is a powerful tool to establish a strong hold in any market. Satisfied customers always talk about their experience, which leads to their friends and customers showing interest in an organization’s products and service, which can lead to increased sales.
Technological advancements have made it easier for organizations to improve or maintain good customer services. Email, chat, online surveys, social networking mediums, telephone are used to provide continuous support before, during and after a purchase. A factor that plays a key role in maintaining a good rapport with the clients is time. A timely solution to their problems, understanding that their time is precious and guiding them out of troubles are pivotal in creating a good customer service.
For example, every visit to a restaurant includes a very important discussion: How good or bad was the customer service? Whether the management was attentive enough to note specifications or were the customers served cold water when they asked for warm? Good customer service skills can create exponentially enhanced customer experience.
Types of Customer Service:
Different customers expect different types of assistance from an organization. There are 5 main types of customer services:
- Assistance for potential customers:
Potential customers are not actually customers but are those who have shown interest in products/services by either providing contact information on the company website, contacting the sales support team via online chat, conducting meetings offline via phone or face-to-face. These potential customers will form the first layer of a sales funnel who need constant assistance to convert them into buyers.
The customer service team needs to make sure these potential buyers have clarity on what to expect from products/services. Share resources such as product page links, help files with them constantly for the products they’re interested in. Be clear in communicating that a team of representatives is always available to guide them.
- Onboarding new customers:
Customers who have already purchased a product or service, but they still need help to figure out the functioning part of it, fall into this category. That’s when a customer service team comes into the picture, to provide every possible additional information. Even after purchase completion, providing prompt customer service and support to these customers will ensure they convert into loyal buyers over a course of time.
Customer service teams that invest time in helping a new customer to explain the functioning of a product/service tend to develop closer bonds with most of their clientele.
- Guidance to impulsive customers:
These customers will make a purchase in a moment if all the products and services are well-explained and they have absolute clarity on what they want. It’s not very difficult to convince them to make a purchase but the procedure to purchase products must be clearly defined, easy and quick. It’s advised to have precise information and the least number of clicks to purchase.
When impulsive customers are stuck, a solution must be provided in short and accurate manner. In case the answer gets too long, there are high chances that these impulsive customers might quit the website session.
- Assist customers looking for discounts:
These customers will never make a purchase at the price mentioned in an organization’s resources. There will always be something extra that they look for in a product or service at a given price. If they’ve previously made a purchase at discounted rates, it’s highly probable that they might not buy the same products if they can’t avail discounts.
A customer service team needs to constantly add value to products so that these customers agree to buy them. Provide assistance in terms of coupon codes or any other privileges. Customer service for every hiccup these customers come across can make them stay with an organization for a longer tenure.
- Support the loyalists:
These customers are a trustworthy source of word of mouth. They’ll make sure they purchase products or services from the same organization and contribute remarkably towards the business. They’ll recommend these products and services to their friends and family which will be a source of business. Talk to these customers regularly to understand what they think about an organization’s products/services and the reason behind their loyalty.
The functioning of any customer service team is more than just to provide customer assistance – they also have the critical role of ensuring customer retention and growth through active engagement with customers/clients. Create a case study around their experience and circulate it via social media or website. Try to apply the steps followed to turn these customers into loyal buyers to other such customers.
Tips to Improve Customer Service Skills:
1.Employees have an integral part to play in customer service. Customer facing teams such as the customer service teams or sales teams should be trained regularly to polish their customer satisfaction skills. Factors such as their communication capabilities, principles at work, subject matter expertise, problem-solving skills etc. should be analyzed at regular intervals.
2. Keep all the employees engaged.
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek
Unless and until, employees are valued, respected and regularly engaged, they are less likely to deliver at the best of their capabilities. Unhappy employees may not talk about their displeasure openly and so, the management can send online surveys using an employee satisfaction. This way, the anonymity of employees can be preserved, enabling them to provide honest and clear feedback.
3. An organization must strive to provide an amazing customer experience at every point of contact. Develop a 360 degree view on areas of customer service that are working efficiently and the ones that need improvement. This will make it easier for a manager to work on drawbacks and keep customers happy at every point of contact.
4. Building a dependable relationship with customers is in turn dependent on developing excellent internal customer service skills. The representatives can be trained to ask the right questions to find a common interest with customers or to understand customer problems actively and solve them in real-time or regularly following up with clients even after their problems have been resolved. This can also help in continually improving products and services.
5. Send satisfaction surveys to a target clientele in which they can share their experience with the organization. Feedback received from these surveys can be used to create plans to improve customer experience the next time they make a purchase from an organization.