Customer service is like Cinderella. They will clean up, but no one will be especially interested in them. They exist, because the dust is exist. They exist because they have to. Fortunately, we know how Cinderella’s story ends. And that’s the vision of customer service I want to have. That it will eventually become worthy of attention, that companies will consider it an important element. We also know that life is not a fairy tale… That is why I want to start by answering the question – why do you even should care about customer service?
Customer service is part of the customer experience but they are not the same. For details about the customer experience you can look at this post. However, what counts in both cases and affects the image of the company are the interactions. It’s understanding, help, empathy. A quick conclusion? With customer service you can build trust or lose it.
Customer Service – definition
Customer service is the provision of services to customers before, during and after the purchase. These stages make it clear that customer service plays an important role in an organization’s ability to generate revenue. And it is more than just customer support. Too much at once? Look at the picture:
Now that you’re stunned with my graphic design abilities, let me surprise you with the writing skills. 😉
Customer support teams assist in the proper use of the products (e.g. installation, maintenance, troubleshooting). Currently, this is done through any channel – phone, chat, social media, dedicated systems and forms. Customer service are the people you will turn to when you have a Wi-Fi issues. And in places such as physical shops or restaurants, the roles will most often be merged in the roles of the sales assistants or waiters.
Customer service is also… self-service. Remember that this is one of the “post-pandemic” trends? These are pages with frequently asked questions (FAQs), knowledge bases and decision trees that are the background for virtual agents or self-service portals that enable the selection services.
Customer service with “human involvement” is the first line (there is also a second – technical and third – direct). Self-service is the “zero line” (tier 0). Following this trend even some restaurants introduce own applications for onsite usage. During dinner you can make an order and realize payment via an app. The employees are only involved in serving food and caring about the cleanliness of the tables.
Why customer service is important?
Poor customer service (these are processes as well!) is a key factor for choosing competition. For me, that’s why I’ll never use UPS courier services again. It started with an additional charge on the card without any explanation. It took two months to recover the money, many emails, phone calls and a lot of nerves. On top of that I received damaged parcels and getting compensation for damaged items in the parcel is just a nightmare.
This is just an example of that both customer support and customer service teams are the ones closest to customer frustrations and problems. And it is also after an interaction with them that, as clients, we are most often asked to fill in satisfaction surveys or share opinions.
Nowadays we are able to share opinions with a much wider audience. The information is no longer only received by the consultant or management through satisfaction surveys. These are also comments on Facebook, Google opinions. In such cases, what matters most is the speed of response and its tone. After all, your potential clients will make purchasing decision based on someone else’s experiences.
Through customer service, you create the image of your brand, you confirm or brake a promise given to your customers. You are able to prove that you listen because you react. Not only through your answers, but above all through actions, improvements and continuous development. Your desire to become a better partner for your customers is a value.
Customer Service – tips & tricks
I know you can do it better and with a smile. That’s why I’ve prepared some points for your own analysis (and action!):
- Customer service is a result of the culture of the organization. If you are an employer, explain to each person in your team how their work translates into the customer experience and thus the company image. Otherwise, customer service will only be a set of scenarios to play out, without any sense. In this way, everyone will quickly become discouraged and burn out.
- Prepare yourself for the fact that building an organization’s culture is a long-term activity. It requires strategic planning, smooth and transparent communication with coworkers.
- Learn to admit mistakes and make up for them. Integrity in contact with clients will be good for you!
- When planning, take into account those moments in the year when there are peaks in demand for support. In the clothing industry, for example, these are periods of seasonal sales.
- As in project management, so in the customer service process – plan, do, check, act (Deming cycle). Be willing to improve, develop, be curious. For example, I am improving my graphic skills today. 😉
- Make it easy to contact you. If a customer cannot contact you, it is very likely that they will go to a competition for answers to their questions. This is the result of the impatience I mentioned here. Already in 2013 as much as 31% of customers wanted to receive help immediately (LivePerson report). Just think how this number must have increased by now!
- Use signatures with name and contact details. It makes communication more personal and facilitates establishing a relationship.
- More and more often a picture of the contact person appears in the footer. If for any reason you don’t want to introduce such solution or your employees are reluctant to do so, consider using avatars. Even chat bots have a human face!
- Listen, respect, react. Make your customers feel important and be empathetic. Understand why they need your product, what obstacles they have on the way for achieving their goal.
- Listen to both positive and negative feedback. Consider it an opportunity to discover your greater potential through customer suggestions.
TOOLS AND PROCESSES
- Choose the tools e.g. knowledge bases to help you find necessary information, procedures and process maps. It is a help in solving customer problems faster. What’s more, all the knowledge is secured in one place. Huge help for onboarding of new employees. And attrition will no longer mean knowledge loss!
- Review access rights. Perhaps a small change of “first line” authorizations will allow more efficient ticket handling. On top of that first contact resolution could increase.
What do you think?
Customer service is one of the keys to the company’s success, part of the promise made to customers. It’s time to stop seeing support teams as an unnecessary expense and to notice its potential.
If you agree with this view, share this article, leave a comment. You can send me an email or in social media (Facebook, Instagram). And if you don’t agree, I will be very happy to know your point of view. Cheers! 😊