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 in-person interaction, a phone call, self-service systems, or by other means.

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Customer Service

Understanding 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 interacts directly with customers that form customers' perceptions of the company as a whole.

Most successful businesses recognize 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 endeavor for the consumer.

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.

$33,750

The average annual salary for a customer service representative in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Requirements of Customer Service

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.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected customer service representative job growth at 5% between 2016 and 2026, which is as fast as the average of all other occupations.

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.

Special Considerations

With the proliferation of smartphones, customer service has centered on the perfect mobile experience. The key to meeting the evolving needs of customers is focused on customer service-centric mobile apps.

The idea is that the customer doesn't need to 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.

It is not enough to only respond quickly to customer service requests but to make sure responses and help are personalized. Offering 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 has given companies with strong customer service approaches the edge.

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 by using data analytics to identify potentially dissatisfied or low-engagement customers.

Key Takeaways

  • Customer service is the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service, often while performing a transaction for the customer.
  • Some of the requirements of effective customer service are being accessible, knowledgable, courteous, and possess excellent listening skills.
  • Surveys provide companies with valuable feedback about where they may need to improve.
  • Since the rise of the smartphone, customer service has shifted somewhat from in-person service to service offered through an app or website.