What is Customer Service?
Customer service is a role within a business dedicated to helping buyers or prospects regarding the purchase or use of the business’s products and services. Many companies have a customer service department dedicated to ensuring customers are satisfied, but smart businesses make it a company-wide responsibility to provide their customers with superior service.
The more customer service-oriented a company is, the greater the lengths to which it is willing to go to satisfy its customers’ needs before, during, and after a sale.
Good Customer Service
Businesses that empower their employees to do whatever it takes to make a customer happy typically develop a reputation for customer service excellence. For example, there are stories about one retailer that refunded a customer for a pair of automobile tires that the customer was sure had been purchased there, when, in fact, the department store has never sold tires. Or the fact that an online retailer was pleased that one of its customer service representatives stayed on the phone for 10 hours and 29 minutes with one customer, who ended up placing only a single order. They considered that long conversation to be a success, because they had the opportunity to show that customer how important she is to the company.
Companies that consider it their mission to provide whatever their customers need become known for going above-and-beyond in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. Specifically, some of the ways organizations provide good customer service involve one or more of the following traits:
- Attention. Giving customers the customer service representative’s undivided attention, as demonstrated through active listening and discussion, helps customers feel heard and valued.
- Courtesy. Being polite shows respect and appreciation for a customer’s business.
- Empathy. When a customer calls to complain about a problem, the best course of action is to express empathy, or an understanding of why feel the way they do. Don’t belittle their frustration or the issue they’re having and don’t argue or explain why they’re wrong or at fault.
- Prompt. The best customer service happens almost immediately after a customer makes contact asking for help. The longer the time between the customer making contact and the issue being resolved, the less happy the customer will be.
- Simple. Making it easy for customers to find a customer service rep is critical, as is making the process they have to go through to resolve a problem as painless as possible.
- Follow-up. Companies that circle back to confirm that their customer got what they ordered and are happy with it are perceived to be more customer service-oriented than companies that assume no new is good news.
Even if you sell a superior product or service, how your approach customer service can make the difference between having a successful business or not.
How to Offer Great Customer Service
Once you can visualize great customer service, it’s fairly easy to implement. If you want to make it easy for customers to reach out to you, you want employees empowered to satisfy customer requests, and you want to be able to deal immediately with any complaints that arise, some of the steps you’ll likely want to take include:
- Placing the customer service email address front-and-center on your website
- Publicizing a toll-free number for customers to call with questions or issues
- Offering live chat as a way for buyers to reach out while online
- Clearly stating your company’s customer service policy – 100% satisfaction
- Offering a product or service guarantee
The more confident buyers are that they won’t have any problems with products or services you sell, and the more sure they are that if a problem does arise, your company will do everything in its power to correct it, the better your customer service reputation. Generally, the better your reputation for customer service, the better your sales.