Customer service is a process of direct communication and servicing between a customer and a company employee, such as a sales person or a manager, including choosing and purchasing a product.
The quality of this interaction and the customer’s satisfaction with the process and result directly affects the customer's intention to return and make more purchases from the company. Moreover, a quality customer service maintains customers’ loyalty and often results in good publicity expressed in admirable reviews, comments on the Internet and a general positive image of the company.
These are the reasons why a proper service is important. A slogan “The customer is always right” has appeared in the business sphere a long time ago and perfectly represents the main principles of a perfect customer service - a customer’s needs is the main priority for the business, as its income and profit depends on it.
Customer Service essentials
In the modern world, customer service isn’t limited to in-store interactions, it’s a complex system including the right marketing, staying in touch with the customers before and after the purchase and providing the necessary support in different situations. Although there are multiple possibilities to make purchases without a direct contact with another person nowadays, a human factor is still incredibly important, and a pleasant interaction with a company representative might become a determining factor for some customers to continue buying company’s products.
Customers serve as business drivers, providing entrepreneurs and customers with income and incentivizing business in general. The importance of customers is obvious to businesses, so it’s crucial to keep the loyalty of actual consumers and provide new ones with a service which must be more satisfactory than experiences they can get in other places. Although there are many things that might attract new customers and retain current ones, with the most common of them are low prices, easy accessibility of a company’s stores or offices, products’ quality and uniqueness, one thing has always been considered highly important. This is customer service, and without this process it’s difficult for a business to be profitable.
Good Customer Service main features
For small companies, there is an undeniable advantage of customer service being easier to control and evaluate, and it is often successfully managed naturally, while in bigger companies with more complex processes managing customer service must be properly organized to spot the weaknesses, correct them and keep the service quality.
For successful customer service, a company representative who interacts directly with customers should possess the following qualities:
- politeness, which means that an employee has to be respectful, well-mannered and calm regardless of the situation;
- profound knowledge of the product;
- ability to meet customers’ needs and solve problems;
- advanced speaking and listening skills, which means that an employee has to speak clearly and intelligibly, and at the same time be able to understand customers quickly or know how to ask correct questions to make everything clear.
So, quality service requires company representatives being skilled in different spheres, and it’s also crucial for employees to constantly develop and maintain those skills. To achieve this goal, it’s rational for company executives to survey and train the staff regularly, get the feedback from the customers and seek ways to adjust their customer service to the changes.
Concerning the process of customer service, the key features of it have always considered to be the following:
- Fast response to a customer’s request. It must be as fast as possible, considering the fact that a person’s dissatisfaction always grows with the time one spends waiting. An employee should provide a reasonable reaction to all requests and demands, give immediate support and service if it is possible in a given time moment, and stick to the deadlines if there are any.
- Easiness of customer service. The process must be clear and intuitive. It ideally should consist of one step only, when a customer applies to a company representative and gets the needed support or service straight away. If it’s impossible for any reason, the fewer steps there are in the process, the better.
- Customer care during further steps. It means that in case it’s necessary to entrust a customer’s request to another employee or another department, it’s important to keep in touch with the customer to make sure everything is fine and the customer’s needs are fully satisfied.
Nowadays, a large part of business activities, especially in retail sector, are organized online to save time and resources, which is important for large companies with their complex systems. There might be difficulties connected with the fact that different customers often use more than one way to get goods and services, including websites, mobile apps, email and other options, and customer service should be provided on all levels and through all possible channels. To solve such difficulties, companies use several strategies, including big data analytics and applying automatized systems to reach customers' needs. Nevertheless, to retain adequate customer service, a successful business usually provides its customers with an easily reached support delivered by a person and not a bot.