Put simply, customer service is the provision of guidance, assistance, and resolution to current or potential customers. This includes everything from complex issues to answering basic questions. It may sound simple on the surface, but there are many facets of customer service to consider.
Why it’s Important
Of course, it’s important that a customer is happy simply because a good business genuinely wants their customers to be happy.
But, it’s also important from a business standpoint.
It Keeps Customers
Customers that leave happy - even when they have an issue - are the ones that come back.
Repeat business is great, but it also turns them into brand advocates. They’ll develop loyalty to your company and tell others about their wonderful experience. Not only does this mean they’re a customer for life, but it’s free acquisition of another customer when they spread the word.
Consider creating a loyalty and/or referral program. Customers who are already happy will be even happier to continue spending their money if they’re accruing points or credits. They’ll also be even more inclined to tell their friends if there’s something in it for them.
Happy customers plus freebies equal a wonderful cycle of repeat business and free advertising.
It Increases Your Revenue
Happy customers are repeat customers. They’ll come back for more which of course increases sales but also gives you more opportunity for upselling and cross-selling. Because it’s so much cheaper to keep a customer than acquire one, you’re also saving money.
More goes into finding a new customer than many think. Advertising is an obvious cost but you must also consider employee’s wages, website maintenance, social media monitoring, new customer discounts, etc. All of this costs someone time and money. After spending hours and potentially hundreds of dollars on a new customer, you can’t afford to let them go.
In addition to offering a good-quality product or service, outstanding customer service keeps people around - and it keeps them spending.
It Helps You Stand Out
Make no mistake - word will get around about your customer services practices, one way or another. If you consistently leave customers astounded by your impeccable customer service, this is how you’ll be known. This encourages people to purchase from you over a competitor, even if your products are equal in quality and value.
The opposite is also true. Too many bad experiences and unhappy customers start making a lot of noise - especially online. Your reputation can go downhill fast if you’re not careful. This is also why you must pay attention to social media.
Everyone is on social media these days. If you’re not there, you might lose customers who will never even know about you. Once you are there, though, you must be vigilant. Respond to relevant comments and answer questions. The people asking might not go anywhere else and a lack of response will upset them.
Also, treat social media private messages like email. Be personal, be thorough, and respond within 24 hours maximum. An active, positive, helpful social media presence goes a long way in putting you ahead of the competition.
Going Above and Beyond
These days, going “above and beyond” must be the norm if you expect to succeed. With all the competition out there, customer service requires a skilled and knowledgeable team who won’t stop until the customer is happy.
This requires a few basics:
- Sufficient training. Even the most experienced, personable, positive employee can’t offer good customer service without proper training for their specific company. This includes your desired methods, your technology and systems, and in-depth knowledge of your product or service.
- Dedication. If your customer service department is to succeed, everyone must be dedicated, from the newest hire to the CEO of the company. This means dedication to thorough training, dedication to constant improvement, and dedication to the customer themselves and never stopping until they’re satisfied.
- Personalization. Cut and paste emails are not always sufficient. For simple and common issues or questions, perhaps. But for the most part, you want to offer an attentive and personalized experience. This means reading or listening to queries thoroughly and providing a detailed response. It also means leveling with the customer a little bit. If they make a joke - laugh. Use their name, empathize with how they’re feeling, and make personalized recommendations where applicable. This goes a long way in making them feel valued.
- Lighting fast response times. This one is simple but crucial. Don’t make customers wait longer than 24 hours - at most! - for an email response. The faster the better. When calling, don’t make them wait on hold for more than a few minutes - if at all. One 2019 study found that more than 80 percent of customers expect an email response within 24 hours, and 16 percent expect an immediate response. Taking any longer than 24 hours will have customers becoming irritated and possibly angry.
- 24/7 availability. Lastly, you want to be as available as possible. Whether this means running 24/hour call center or having someone monitoring email and instant message chats at all times, you must be reachable. When shopping online, customers may abandon their cart because they had a question but no one was there to answer them. If you’re currently unable to offer 24/7 live customer service, an AI chatbot can help with at least some potential customer issues.
This is your base for offering solid, comprehensive customer service. It may seem much more daunting than simply opening up the phones lines to answer questions from 9-5, but it’s worth the investment. This is customer service for those that want growth, success, and results.
Customer Service Has Evolved
Asking “what is customer service” has become a loaded question. To survive, you must take your customer service beyond the basic definition and offer an outstanding and unforgettable experience.