What is customer service?

Customer service is the continual process through which an organization focuses on its customers to ensure that they are pleased.

A good company understands the importance of a focus on customer service, or the means through which a company provides assistance to its customers. Common methods include conversations over chat or through messaging apps, responses to emails, self-service features, and addressing the customer over the phone.

Customer service is also a process through which a company serves its prospective customers with a focus on customer satisfaction and good experiences, even before the customer has purchased the product or service. It is a means of continually working toward good customer relations to attract and retain customers, and to boost customer loyalty.

Customer service is more than just going through the motions to answer questions and help customers. It is a matter of going beyond expectations to provide a great experience that makes the customer want to come back.

  • Timeliness is crucial. Ensure that a customer does not wait for an answer or service, whether they are on chat, on the phone, or communicating over email.
  • Representatives should always follow up to ensure that the customer had their issue resolved and provide answers to any additional questions.
  • A resolution should be provided in a single step if at all possible. Provide help on the phone call the first time, provide a specific solution over email, and ensure that a customer doesn’t have to leave a chat during the process.
  • Low customer effort can create an all-around better experience. If a customer were to call in, there would ideally be a system that could help identify them right away and gather necessary information. This information would then be passed to the agent, and subsequent agents if necessary, to ensure that customers do not have to repeat themselves.
  • Good customer service anticipates the needs of a client and provides resolutions that are available immediately and without the need for contact whenever possible. Examples include knowledge bases or automated chatbots. There should also be resolutions presented to customer service agents based on the type of issue being addressed

Customer service should ensure that each customer feels like their experience was personalized, swift, easy, and helpful.

Customers are only willing to stick around as long as they are consistently given a great experience. A business is exponentially more likely to fail if they don’t focus on good customer service, as customers will easily find their way to a competitor for a better experience.

Customer service shapes your reputation

A product is not the only aspect of a company’s reputation—a company is only as good as their customer service. A customer can enjoy their experience if they can avoid interacting with an agent because there are processes in place to solve issues before contacting customer service is necessary. The goal is to create a process that addresses the issue as efficiently as possible so that the customer can return to using the product or service. Customers know what they want, and they have expectations every time they interact with a company. And now more than ever, customers are willing to share their experiences through word-of-mouth and online.

A bad experience can be enough to dissuade potential customers or current customers away from a product and service, and a good review can lead to more customers.

Customers will pay more for excellent service

Studies have indicated that most customers are willing to pay more money to a company that has excellent customer service every step of the way.

Customer service excellence is best powered by workflows that break down silos

Providing good customer service is more than just providing an answer. There can be more complex problems that may involve consultation with specialists outside of customer service. Any breakdown in communication can lead to a poor customer experience, and silos can lead to communication breakdowns.

A proper workflow connects teams and automates steps while providing visibility to create a system that can keep the customer happy while efficiently solving their problem. Carefully account for workflows and how they guide the customer along a journey, how they improve communication, and how they can be optimized to deliver superior customer service.

Customer support is the practice of facilitating customer service, which leads to customer success.

  1. Customer support is how customer service is strategized and executed—troubleshooting, anticipating, fulfilling customer requests, and fixing technical issues on the back end for short-term service.
  2. Customer service is why customer support is important to establish—good relationships and strong service are built on a foundation of a supportive and anticipatory environment that set up customer service teams and experiences for success.
  3. A customer experiences success when customer support and customer service are well-executed. Additionally, some companies may offer customer success programs that work with customers to understand their goals and help them achieve them using the company’s products and services.

Customer experience is how the customer feels about and perceives the company as time passes. Customer service is integral to ensuring a positive customer experience by making the customer journey memorable every step of the way. One bad customer service interaction is enough to sour customers to a company, thus throwing a wrench in their customer experience and making them exponentially less likely to interact with a brand again and exponentially more likely to spread negative reviews.

  1. Self-service: Many customers prefer the anywhere/anytime option that self-service provides. Ideally, self-service provides service channels that the customer wants, updates them with relevant information, and provides an easy route to a friendly agent if they can’t find an answer.
  2. Friendly service: Many customers still prefer the personal touch of a customer service agent. Add personality and customization to each interaction, and ensure that each agent understands the customer’s feelings matter the most.
  3. Empathy: A customer wants to feel heard and understood. Step into a customer’s shoes and think about what they need, why they feel a certain way, and their expected resolution.
  4. Every second counts: Customers become frustrated when they’re put on hold, have to repeat themselves, or are forced to wait in a queue. Talking at length with a customer or taking an excessive amount of time to serve them can lead to further frustration and a poor customer service experience, which is damaging to a company’s reputation and bottom line
  5. Form a strong, connected team: A team that serves together succeeds together. Teams should be streamlined, connected, and communicative as each customer’s concern or issue is resolved. There should be a connected and effective web between customer service teams and other teams who can assist customers with their issues.

Proactive support

Anticipating customer needs is the basis for proactive customer support. Identify trends in customer issues and customer satisfaction, then tailor solutions to predict when a problem may be imminent. Monitoring digitally-delivered services for failure and fixing issues can also quickly provide another means of proactive services.

Reactive response

A customer reaches out to a business with an inquiry or an issue, and the customer service team reacts and mitigates accordingly.

  1. Active listening: Displaying empathy is crucial, as it helps the customer immediately feel heard and understood—especially when they are escalating or stressed.
  2. Interpersonal: Customer service involves a degree of personalization and personability to navigate through an issue and better understand a customer’s concern in order to navigate to an amicable solution.
  3. Attention to detail: Customers can become flustered or not seem specific enough in their complaint. Excellent customer service involves careful examination of a written or verbal complaint to ensure every part of the complaint is understood and communicated before proceeding.
  4. Collaboration: Other teams are often involved in the customer support process, and the ability to work seamlessly with other teams is crucial. Create workflows that help teams communicate well and understand each other so any handoffs or communication between teams can create a smooth customer experience.
  5. Multitasking: An agent answering emails, running multiple chats, or fielding different types of phone calls needs to be able to do so without becoming flustered or overwhelmed.
  6. Communication: Agents should be able to adequately understand a customer and make sure the customer adequately understands the agent. There also needs to be a clear indication of when a call is being handed over or when a customer is being put on hold, and why those are occurring.
  7. Patience: Customers may come from a place of anger. An agent needs the patience to de-escalate the customer, understand their concern through the anger, and de-escalate them to a comfortable place for a resolution.
  8. Knowledge and troubleshooting: An agent who doesn’t understand a product or service can’t be helpful to a customer, and that can lead to customer frustration—when agents need to research a product or service, they need contextually relevant knowledge at their fingertips to minimize lag time.

Equip teams with an outstanding customer service workflow

Software can be at the crux of an excellent customer service team. The right workflow system has the necessary capabilities for customer service teams to find the right solutions for customers, collaborate across departments, and follow proper workflows to eliminate silos and roadblocks.

  1. Customer satisfaction: Customers should ideally indicate their customer service experience was positive and that they will continue to do business with a company. Post-interaction surveys can indicate the extent to which an experience was positive or negative. These metrics should be recorded, reported, analyzed, and applied to future customer service strategies.
  2. Contacts per day and types of issues: The number of calls, emails, or other contacts per day are indicative of the frequency of customer problems, which can be indicative of a larger product or service issue. The number of calls may also correlate with any new releases or upgrades, and whether or not they have been successful—i.e., it’s why the customers are calling that is important to understand.
  3. Length of calls: Shows the length of time it takes to reach a resolution, and whether or not resolutions are taking too long or if there are multiple complicated issues.
  4. First contact resolution: Address customer issues on the first call, email, or chat if possible to resolve the issue and eliminate the customer’s need to return.
  5. Total resolution time: It's important to measure not just call length, but how long it takes to ultimately resolve the customer's issue. Analyzing this can help companies identify and fix process inefficiencies.
  6. Customer service feedback: Team member morale directly influences the quality of customer service. Constantly gather feedback to get an idea of how the customer service representatives are feeling, and whether or not there need to be actions taken to ensure better morale.

What is self-service and why is it important?

Self-service allows customers to help themselves or find resolutions without direct contact with a customer service agent. A few examples include chatbots that knowledge bases, communities, or automation systems that can solve common issues.

The digital era creates a great deal of demand for self-service, especially as self-service technologies become more and more available and accessible.

Delivering memorable customer service involves combining stakeholders across the business, including anybody who would play a role in supporting the product or service. The goal is to assemble processes and systems that need to deliver on the customer service vision. The strategy should be top-to-bottom and powered by workflow to keep tasks accounted for.

A proper strategy should be implemented at all levels, while paying attention to the necessity of agility and adjusting at any level. Find the proper customer service software to meet individual goals and help you form new goals based on data that is gathered.

Make customer service flow

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