Loading the player...

What is 'Customer Service'

Customer service is the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service. Often, customer service takes place while performing a transaction for the customer, such as making a sale or returning an item. Customer service can take the form of an in-person interaction, a phone call, self-service systems, or by other means.

BREAKING DOWN 'Customer Service'

Customer service is an important part of maintaining ongoing client relationships, which is key to continuing revenue. For this reason, many companies have worked hard to increase their customer satisfaction levels. Although many people may work behind the scenes at a company, it is primarily the personnel that interact directly with customers that form customers' perceptions of the company as a whole.

Keys to Excellent Customer Service

Most successful businesses recognize the importance of providing outstanding customer service. A courteous and empathetic interaction with a trained customer service representative can mean the difference between losing or retaining a customer. When problems arise, customers should receive timely attention to the issue. Prompt attention to emails and phone calls is critical to maintaining good relations. Requiring customers to stand in long lines or sit on hold can sour an interaction before it begins.

Ideally, customer service should be a one-stop endeavor for the consumer. For example, if a customer calls a helpline regarding a problem with a product, the customer service representative should follow through with the customer until the issue is fully resolved. This may entail scheduling appointments with in-person repair personnel if the problem cannot be resolved on the phone, or transferring a call to skilled technicians in another department. Proactively following up with the customer to ensure that he or she is fully satisfied is another smart move.

Attributes of Successful Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives must be accessible, knowledgeable and courteous. They require excellent listening skills and a willingness to compromise to reach a resolution. Training in conflict resolution can be very beneficial in fostering those skills. Strong speaking skills are another important attribute of a successful customer service representative. For phone staff, this means speaking clearly and slowly while maintaining a calm demeanor, even if the customer becomes upset.

Companies must make a commitment to providing up-to-date information to customer service representatives. To avoid complicating an existing problem, employees need to have the latest and most accurate information about products and company policies. Periodic assessment of customer service is essential to running a successful company. Surveys allow customers to provide feedback about the service they receive and to suggest areas for improvement.

Trends in Customer Service

With the proliferation of smartphones, customer service will increasingly be centered on the mobile experience. The key to meeting the evolving needs of customers will be customer service-centric mobile apps. This means that a customer need not leave an app to contact customer service. It also means accessing support via whatever channel the customer uses on their mobile device, such as telephone, social media, text or live chat. And it's important to not only respond quickly to customer service requests (measured in seconds rather than minutes), but to make sure responses and help are personalized. It's also essential to offer customers a way to solve their own issues by utilizing self-service customer support that offers 'how-to' content and additional online self-help resources. And finally, companies should be proactive in engaging with potentially dissatisfied customers. This can be done by contacting customers via live chat to discuss known problem areas and/or by using data analytics to identify potentially dissatisfied or low-engagement customers.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Customer

    A customer is an individual or business that purchases the goods ...
  2. Customer Relationship Management ...

    Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term for the principles, ...
  3. Forrester Research Customer Experience ...

    The Forrester Research Customer Experience Index is a way to ...
  4. Customer Information File (CIF)

    A Customer Information File (CIF) is a computerized file that ...
  5. Know Your Client - KYC

    The Know Your Client form ensures investment advisors know details ...
  6. Productize

    "Productize" refers to the process of developing or altering ...
Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisor

    Financial Advisors: Avoid These Marketing Mistakes

    Effective marketing can be the difference between your business succeeding or failing.
  2. Insights

    How Online Banking Is Overtaking Traditional Banking

    Is traditional banking doomed to be surpassed by online banking?
  3. Investing

    Twitter Aims to Humanize Customer Service Dealings

    Twitter wants you to know when you are dealing with an actual human on the other end of that DM.
  4. Investing

    Comcast, Sprint, DISH, Charter on Most-Hated List

    24/7 Wall St. came out with its annual ranking of the most hated companies in America.
  5. Tech

    Get Approved for a Mortgage in an Hour

    The traditional mortgage approval process takes 2-4 weeks, but tech companies have reduced the time to get approved for a mortgage to less than one hour.
  6. Financial Advisor

    FINRA Rule 2273: Your Recruiting Questions Answered

    An in-depth look at and Q&A on FINRA's new recruiting practices rule, which goes into effect in November.
  7. Small Business

    The Top 10 Hidden Factors Affecting Software Stocks

    Want to invest in software? Here are the most important factors affecting profits, revenues, and stock price of software companies
  8. Investing

    Amazon Adds International Shopping Feature

    The online retailer has launched an international shopping feature for its overseas customers.
  9. Personal Finance

    The Pros and Cons of Buying on Amazon

    Learn how buying works with Amazon. Amazon has become the dominant player in online retail with its ruthless focus on lower prices and customer service.
  10. Small Business

    In Small Business, Success Is Spelled With 5 "C"s

    Incorporating these steps will help your business thrive in a competitive market.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the Four Types of Economic Utility?

    Understand the four main types of economic utility that apply to transactions between consumers and businesses: form, time, ... Read Answer >>
  2. How long can accounts receivable be outstanding?

    Learn about a company's accounts receivable, including how long it can remain outstanding, and how their payment or lack ... Read Answer >>
  3. What strategies do companies employ to increase market share?

    A company's market share is the percentage it controls of the total market for its products and services. Learn about the ... Read Answer >>
  4. How should investors interpret accounts receivable information on a company's balance ...

    Analyze accounts receivable information on a company's balance sheet carefully. Receivables offer confidence of future cash ... Read Answer >>
  5. How long can you short sell for?

    In theory, you could keep a short position open indefinitely, but in practice, a lender can demand you "buy to cover" the ... Read Answer >>
  6. How do interpersonal skills influence a business culture?

    Interpersonal skills are vital to business culture because they determine not only how a person interacts with others, but ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center