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Whether you’re a big corporation or a start-up, chances are you’re catering to your customers directly or indirectly in one or more ways.
And that either makes your business or breaks it.
It won’t be exaggerating if we say that customer service is one of the critical pillars of any business, regardless of its industry, size, and stature. Good customer service can contribute to expanding your business exponentially. A poorly planned & executed service, on the other hand, can drive your customers away forever.
Thus, it is only wise to spend ample time understanding everything about customer service. In this blog, we’ll take you through the meaning of customer service, its type, and its importance, as well as tips to amp up the quality of your customer service offerings.
» Customer Service Definition
In simpler words, customer service is providing customers with the help that they need. Whether it is solving their problems, answering their queries, or instructing them on how to use a product/service.
The reason why it is called customer service is because a customer is at the core of it. It’s about them first, then you – the company. It is about serving them. Offering the required assistance at the right time every time.
Examples of customer services include processing a replacement request for a purchased item and scheduling a maintenance service. Assisting consumers with the implementation of a software product also comes under customer services.
The entire process typically starts with customers reaching out with their requests to the business, problems encountered in a service/product, asking questions about the company’s offerings, or reporting a complaint. A company’s customer service team member then connects with the customer as soon as possible to provide support, resolve issues, or offer guidance.
» Customer Service Mission
Every customer is different. They have their likes, dislikes, preferences, and purpose behind the purchase decision. Every customer is at a different stage of their consumer journey. Some of these buyers move through this journey pretty fast – a quick look-through followed by a prompt buying decision. Some have an elaborate consideration phase. Some move on to their next purchase without much thought. And others come back with significant feedback or requests for returns/replacements or services.
During every interaction with a diverse set of customers, the mission of the business remains the same. To provide a pleasant communication experience and establish & maintain long-term relationships with each of them.
» Why is Customer Service Important?
As per a Forbes report, 96% of consumers will abandon you for a bad customer service experience. That’s almost like losing all of your customers! The stats are enough to indicate how essential customer service is for any business around the world.
But if you still need more reasons and motivation to strengthen your customer service department, here are some additional pointers:
- Good customer service makes it easier to retain customers. Since your existing clientele is happy with your services, they’re more likely to keep coming back to you with their requirements. That also helps you save costs since retaining current consumers is cheaper than acquiring new ones.
- Great customer service turns customers into brand advocates. If your customers are happy with your products and service experience, they will tell the world about it. And encourage their friends and family to do business with you. That spells double benefit for you. You are not only getting new clients at zero costs but also seeing your goodwill soar in the market without any explicit efforts.
- Thoughtfully designed customer service helps you stand out among the crowd. No matter how many competitors you may have, if you know how to please your customers with personalized, unforgettable experiences over and over, it becomes the primary factor for people to choose your business over everyone else in the market.
- Customer service helps cut costs & boost revenues. Satisfied, happy customers keep doing business with your firm. Even when you don’t indulge too much in direct advertising or marketing, which, in turn, helps you save costs, it also helps cut down unnecessary expenses associated with unpleasant customer experiences. Moreover, it becomes simpler to cross-sell your offerings to existing & repeat customers, given the positive brand reputation, boosting the scope of revenue increase.
» Types of Customer Service Channels
Gone are the days when the only way to cater to your customers was the time they visited in person. Things evolved with the availability of telephones through which customers could speak to your CSR teams. And now that we live in a technological era, catering to customers has become super rapid and prompt. All you need to do is click or tap on your screen, and that’s it.
If you’re a business, you already know there are multiple channels for you to offer effective customer services. Let’s explore the top channels below:
In-person & on-demand
One of the oldest methods to assist customers, in-person customer service can never go out of style. It is especially true for brick-and-mortar businesses, such as retail and departmental shops. In fact, many entities have been offering on-demand, at-home customer services for years. Take businesses in the consumer electronic niche, for example. When you encounter an issue with your TV or air conditioner, you call the store or the authorized service center. They then schedule a visit to resolve the problem.
Such type of customer service provides a personalized experience. And it’s right when they say no amount of high-end automated technologies can ever replace this feeling packed in humane interactions.
A majority of businesses across the globe keep a dedicated team of customer service to help consumers via phone calls. Consumers dial a toll-free number or helpline and speak to the agents.
Of late, many companies have started using the phone channel only as an escalation for issues that can’t be solved over emails or online chats.
Whether it is order confirmation, status updates, reminders, or coupons, reaching users through text messages is one of the simplest ways of providing customer support. It is a direct mode of communication for the company. It is also a less-expensive option to connect to your audience base. At the same, it offers convenience to consumers as they use the messaging platforms in their everyday life.
From service requests to feedback, a significant part of customer support includes assistance through email communication. Emails spell convenience of time and ease of use for customers as there is no queue to get on a call or confusion over categorizing their issue. They can simply write the problem they’re facing in the email to get desired support. For companies, too, emails are an effective way of communicating with clients while keeping the human touch intact.
Social media platforms are much more than a means of staying in touch with your friends and family. These platforms have evolved into a solid marketing channel for companies – both start-ups and established firms. There are so many online businesses that solely exist on such social sites and still grow consistently.
As a result, organizations have taken conscious steps of late to not only be present on social media but also provide their customers with a great experience. From replying to their questions to sending them personalized offers to engaging with their audience through comments & conversations, this medium is a must-have to take your customer service effort to the next level.
A tech-savvy type of customer service, live chats allow customers to avoid the wait time for calls and emails. It offers real-time communication online between the customer service agent and the customer. The best part? Live chats can be handled by a bot, a human, or a mix of both.
You can also use live chats to offer preliminary support to clients. Then if need be, the consumer query can be escalated into a phone call or a service visit as per the nature of the issue.
With the ease and advent of technology, it is possible to offer a personalized experience leveraging videos. It is a cost-saver for companies and a time-saver for consumers. Clients can request remote assistance through a video meeting and receive instant guidance from the agent in real time.
While it is always great to delight your customers with on-par custom services, it is also critical to equip them with the right resources so that they can help themselves.
Just like customers’ choices, their preference for customer service has also evolved. They love to explore DIY guides & tools and resolve a problem on their own with minimal assistance. It provides convenience, saves them a lot of time, and makes them feel empowered. No wonder companies are investing to boost their Knowledge Base and developing a self-service portal for customers.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of customer service, it’s time to uncover how to improve your customer service to provide a positive experience.
» 5 Tips to Improve Your Customer Service
1. Meet customers where they are
If your customers are online, you can’t wait for them offline or vice versa. In simple words, be on the platforms where your customers are. Offer support where they are requesting it. Communicate on their preferred channel.
You have multiple platforms to reach your consumers, as we explored in the section above. Say, for instance, your customers are more active on Twitter and Instagram. It is crucial for your business to interact with them there rather than asking them to email you their queries.
Remember, it’s about the customers’ convenience, ALWAYS. If they ask for assistance over a call, get on a call. If in-person aid is requested, fulfill it. Just make sure that the service you offer is prompt and relevant.
2. Count on personalization
Every consumer is different. They are at a distinct stage of their consumer journey. Their history with your business is unique, just like their choices and needs. Thus, the best way to provide customer service is by tailoring it to each customer you interact with.
Thanks to technological evolution, offering a personalized consumer experience has become simpler. There are tools that collect & analyze data. And based on the actionable insights, you can strategize and craft a unique experience for every consumer. Doing so makes your consumers feel heard & valued, keeping them from jumping off the boat.
3. Be present everywhere but don’t forget to optimize
There are multiple platforms to offer great customer service, from social media to phone calls to emails to live chats to in-person visits. Include them all in your portfolio of services. However, don’t forget to analyze what is working and what is not periodically. And optimize the efforts where they’re being received the most. Say, for instance, if you’re receiving a lot of inquiries through your Instagram DMs, it’s critical to have a dedicated person to take care of it. It will help you from losing a potential client.
If you’re a start-up and can’t afford to provide an elaborate range of services, it is okay to start small. But give it your 100% even when you’re only offering telephonic assistance.
4. Create a structured training program for your agents
Customer service agents are the first points of contact for clients. They’re the ones who represent your business in front of your prospects and existing consumers alike. Therefore, it is only wise to provide them with the right training at every step of the way.
Invest in building a strong base of training programs and materials. Review this training from time to time and make changes if necessary. Thoughtful customer services help build a strong bond with your consumers that lasts for years.
5. Assess your current customer services and modify them accordingly
Like any other business process, customer services also need periodic assessments. It is vital to take a detailed look into whether things are working for you and areas where you need to improve. You may need to strengthen your virtual customer support team, for example. Or enhance the self-help guides after feedback from several users to make the resources more usable and simpler.
» Final Thoughts
Customer service is an integral part of every business, regardless of its size, sector, or stature. With strategic and powerful customer service, you can attract new consumers, retain the current ones, boost your business reputation, and scale it to new heights.