Usually, the question; what does the phrase Customer Service mean to you, gets reserved for interviews.
However, I feel like this is more of an essential question for the people who work in and manage customer service departments. That’s why, in this article, we are going to take a look at what it means to people, and why it is crucial.
So, the direct definition of customer service is this: The assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services.
Now, that is a very vague answer if you ask me. There are no levels or further definitions of the two main keywords, advice, and assistance. How can anyone tell you what customer service is if there is no real definition?
If you have ever asked this question to a possible employee, then you are likely to have heard many answers. While all of those may be correct to some degree, they are often their own experiences and feelings about customer service. Not to mention, they are often saying what they think you want to hear.
Here is one example of an answer that I would expect to hear:
“Customer service is serving the customer to the best of my abilities to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible.”
While this may be an acceptable answer, it is still quite vague. It does not give any indication of what issues may be faced. Nor does it take into account any of the standard variables.
There are a lot of variables when it comes to customer service. However, for this article, we will group those into a few sections:
As you can see, there are already four areas in which variables can become apparent. Again, these are still quite broad terms. So, let’s take a look at each one in a little bit more depth:
The customer is what service must revolve around. They are the beginning, middle, and end to the company mission. All companies have a purpose. Whether it is to provide fast food to the public or sell aircraft to airlines, or anything between them.
You need to know what the customer wants. There is no use giving a customer something that they do not wish to. If you have an issue that you require a solution to, you want a solution that suits you, not the providing company. You can not look at customers as a whole entity. They are individuals. They are you and I. We all require service at one point or another. Therefore, we must take the time to see what exactly makes the customer tick.
A few of the things that need to think of are:
The contact circumstance is something that the customer service department rarely knows the specifics about before the contact. There are usually a few main reasons that you gain connection, however. Therefore, knowing some of the circumstances will significantly increase your customer service.
Now we are going to take a look at some of those circumstances:
The service provider is the person on the other side of a counter or the other end of the phone. It is your responsibility to deal with the above two points. Not only do you have to deal with them, but you also have to do it efficiently and up to the standards required by the customer and the company.
Just like the other factors that we have looked at so far, the service provider has some variables too:
The outcome of customer service interactions is one of the top two things that need to be right. We will go through the reason that it is in the top two below:
So, on to the reason for outcomes being in the top two. No matter how hard you try, there will be times that there has to be a negative outcome. Sometimes the company doesn’t supply the requirements that the customer wants. Or if an offer has passed and is no longer available.
Although the overall outcome is negative, if the operative has properly conducted themselves, with the manners and attitude that is ideal for customer service, then the customer is likely to return. On the other hand, even if the outcome was positive; if the operative had a lousy attitude, makes it possible, the customer will not return.
So, the top two points to remember are the outcome and the service provider. It can be easy to get one of the two right and the other wrong, and this will give a negative impression.
So, now that we have gone through those points let’s take another look at what customer service means to you. Is it the same as it was when you first started reading this article? I hope not.
It is all too often that Customer service is narrowed down to “smile and sell.” That is not how customer service operates. Or at least, not how it should. If I were able to pick my answer and be given as long as I needed to do it, I would probably say something along the lines of this:
“Real customer service is getting to know your customers. Understanding their reasons for contacting, and empathizing with their situation is paramount. Using a happy, uplifting mannerism when needed, and a serious and concerned one when it is needed too.
Not only is understanding the customer important, but it is equally important to understand the company and its values. Intertwining the needs of the customer, and the wants of the company are the primary roles of customer service.
The task of customer service requires the ability to take the emotion out of the conversation while empathizing with the reasons for that emotion.”
Some people may wonder why it requires the ability to remove the emotion. The reason is that emotions can get in the way of proper judgment. If a customer speaks badly to you, you can not get angry with them. Yes, there are rules for dealing with those issues. However, it is those rules that you need to follow. Not the rules of your emotions.