Comprehensive Guide to Customer Service (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 23, 2022 | Published November 9, 2021
Updated November 23, 2022
Published November 9, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Customer service is one of the fundamental aspects of a successful business. Within any organization, customer service exists between internal customers and external clients who purchase the products or services. Understanding the various elements within a guide to customer service can help you offer a better experience, keep clients, and improve brand awareness. In this article, we discuss the definition of customer service, identify the associated benefits of offering a positive experience, and outline nine tips for providing excellent service to customers.
A comprehensive guide to customer service
When reading through a guide to customer service, various aspects are beneficial to learn to provide a great experience. The first element to understand is how to define customer service. Customer service refers to the support and experience you provide to customers when they interact with a business or service. There are various aspects of customer service you use throughout the customer's life cycle with the company. This includes before a customer makes a purchase, during the buying process, and the aftercare you provide once they have their product or service.
The combination of service you give throughout the customer journey culminates in outstanding customer service. To provide excellent customer service, companies use a variety of tools to support this crucial business element. For example, while telephone support was a common medium, today there are online chat services, SMS text messages, social media platforms, and CRM or customer relations management software to provide additional help.
Benefits of great customer service
Many benefits illustrate the importance of providing great customer service. Some benefits include:
Increased customer retention
When you can provide an exceptional experience for your customers, they are more likely to purchase from the company again in the future. A satisfied customer is more likely to conduct repeat business with an organization that supports their needs. The value of keeping a customer through positive experiences is more cost effective than trying to gain new business. Customer retention is an essential component for a successful company.
Improved job satisfaction
Working for an organization that cares about its customers can be more rewarding for employees as well. When a company focuses on the service it provides to its customer, it also typically cares about its staff's happiness and job satisfaction. People who feel supported and can be proud of the exceptional customer experience they offer are more likely to become brand ambassadors and speak highly of the organization. This can increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover rates, creating a stronger team and better company culture.
Enhanced brand reputation
It's critical to realize that customer service can make or break the reputation of a company. Customers who experience positive customer service are more likely to see the brand as reputable and trustworthy. Every interaction you have with a potential or existing customer creates the way clients view the organization. When customers know a company from its level of customer service, this develops and strengthens the brand reputation.
Increased earning potential
Excellent customer service directly affects a company's bottom line, helping to increase revenue and earning potential. In addition, providing a position customer experience makes a client feel at ease and comfortable during the buying process, instilling trust and confidence in the brand. As a result, this leads to more add-on sales, more closed sales, and higher revenue for the salesperson, representative, and ultimately, the company.
9 tips for providing great customer service
When creating customer service standards, there are many aspects to consider that improve the experience you provide customers. Here are nine tips for providing great customer service:
1. Define great customer service
As with all business processes, customer service is best when you create well-defined, specific criteria. Every organization has its unique description of what customer service means to its company. For example, you can meet with everyone on the customer support team to discuss items to include on a customer service checklist for new clients. You might also write a mission statement for the customer service department to understand what service means to the organization.
2. Set measurable customer service goals
Creating tangible goals using the SMART goal setting criteria can help identify what customer service means to you and ways to measure success. SMART is an acronym standing for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Using these five steps can help you set measurable goals regarding your customer service. Some examples of goals you may set include:
reduced customer wait time
fast follow-up response time
minimal support ticket backlog
high overall customer satisfaction rating
3. Include the entire organization in the process of customer service
Speaking with others in the company about how their role affects customer service can give you valuable insight. In the most successful businesses, customer service is not just a department within the company, but an attitude embraced by everyone. Including other personnel and departments in conversations about customer service techniques and goals can ensure that no matter what interaction a customer has with the organization, it's a positive experience.
4. Identify your customer service KPIs
KPI stands for key performance indicators, which are specific measurements to determine success in a business. Identifying what KPIs are crucial to track can help you remain on target with your goals for better customer service. For example, suppose one of your goals is to have a KPI benchmark of fewer than 12 hours to return a customer's phone call.
If the customer support team has a KPI of 20 hours, you can use this information to determine the location of challenges within the processes or knowledge. For example, maybe the team needs more training in specific procedures to help customers faster. This result may also show that you need more people on the team. Without a KPI to have a way to measure success, it isn't easy to improve.
5. Choose the best customer service tools
Another tip to providing great customer service is to choose the best tools that support your clients. You can do some research to determine the best platforms and tools that are easy to implement and use from the company's side and for the customer. Some examples you can consider may include:
CRM or customer relations management software to manage customer accounts
a toll-free support number
a dedicated email address for customer service
an online chat function on the company's main website
SMS text messaging option
contact information on social media accounts
automated services such as chatbots or automated phone response systems
help desk software
frequently asked questions section on the company's website
company-dedicated online forum
self-help resources on a website, such as tutorials, how-to videos, or ingredient lists
6. Listen to your customers
Listening to your customers is one of the most effective ways to provide and improve service. When you ask questions when talking to a customer and really get to understand their needs, desires, and values, you can use this information to improve your overall customer service strategy. For example, instead of immediately trying to fix a customer's problem, ask critical questions and actively listen to their response. You can also employ customer service surveys or feedback studies to find out more about your ideal customer and how they want to be treated by the organization.
7. Make a note of frequent complaints
If you receive the same feedback time after time from customers, make a note of what's they say and present the information to the company. Frequent complaints provide valuable insight that something isn't working correctly. The feedback may address product or service concerns or focus on a company policy or process. This information is critical to share so that you or the organization can make improvements to improve a customer's experience.
8. Provide a consistent experience for the customer
Consistency is critical to long-term customer service success. Once you've developed a brand's reputation, the customer comes to expect a certain level of service. Offering consistent service regardless of the interaction can happen at all levels by providing patient, empathetic, and friendly service. A consistent experience is also part of developing a brand's reputation. For example, if the company is a luxury brand, consistently offering service with a professional and business-like feel helps to reinforce this image.
9. Reward those providing great service
One way to encourage the team to provide great customer service is to incentivize the program. Rewarding those who offer excellent service can help boost morale and motivate others to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. Incentives can include bonuses for service representatives who meet their individual goals or a department lunch for the team after completing a collective goal.
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