What purpose does customer service serve?
As chatbots and artificial intelligence are on the rise, many people are starting to question the role of customer service in modern business. However, despite the value that these technologies provide, there will always be a place for customer service in the business world because it offers something that only human interaction can.
What is customer service?
Customer service is all about meeting the needs of customers and providing them with solutions to their needs. It can be defined as any support you provide them, before, during and after they purchase your products or services.
Good customer service will ensure their buyer’s journey is smooth, satisfying, and seamless so that customers feel valued, heard and assisted. On the other hand, poor customer service interactions can leave them feeling confused or irritated, and therefore far less likely to return for another purchase.
It is important to take advantage of every customer service interaction to grow your business. In fact, brand loyalty and recognition are directly linked to great customer service so by improving your processes, customers are more likely to stay with you.
Customer Service vs Customer Experience
Customer service is part of Customer Experience (CX), which refers to all touchpoints customers have with a business, including sales, marketing, training, and customer service. Customer Experience is the broader term encompassing all interactions a customer has with a brand, whereas customer service refers to any direct interaction they have with a brand employee.
Why is customer service important?
As a key aspect of Customer Experience, customer service is hugely influential to customer retention. By offering a high level of customer service, you can ensure your customers have good reason to keep interacting with your brand.
To understand its purpose, let’s dig into a few key factors of customer service.
Possibly one of the most crucial parts of customer service is communication. When a customer has a question or request, they will expect there to be a simple, user-friendly way to contact the brand. While this has traditionally been in person or over the phone, it’s increasingly important to offer a multi-channel approach where customers can communicate through the channel that suits them best. For example, some customers will prefer to use social media or live chat, while others will prefer to use email or text.
The vital part of customer service is being available at the right time so it’s worth being reachable across a range of platforms.
One of the main purposes of customer service is to provide customers with helpful solutions to the problems they’re facing in regard to your products or services. If a customer has something that needs to be resolved, customer service is where they’ll go.
Common customer service requests include:
- Support for technical issues using a product, website or app.
- Replacement or repair for a product malfunction.
- An explanation for service delays or interruptions and a proposed resolution.
- Asking for a refund or discount.
- Answering questions about the brand, product or service.
When it comes to these requests, whatever they may be, it’s important for brand representatives to handle them with professionalism and speed. If a customer needs help, at any point in the buyer’s journey, they expect a prompt and helpful response. If they find the process too difficult or frustrating, you’ll risk losing their business.
When it comes to spending their money, customers want to trust a brand before investing in their products or services. Being the front-facing part of a business, customer service is where that trust is established. By interacting directly with brand employees, customers can see for themselves what it’s like to interact with the company and make a decision about whether they want to continue the relationship.
When it comes to building trust, customer service is critical. Being such a major component of the Customer Experience, it provides a strong indication of what customers should expect after their purchase as well, such as when using the product or requesting support after the fact. For example, if an early interaction makes a customer feel valued and heard, they’ll be more confident that the brand will deliver that same level of service later on.
Provides personal connection
One of the things that can set customer service apart from other aspects of business is the human contact it provides. Unlike the wider elements of Customer Experience, like navigating a website or using a product, all customer service interactions include a direct relationship between the customer and a brand representative.
This personal connection is a huge differentiating factor for customers because it has the power to make them feel listened to, valued and understood. If, however, a brand only offers copy-and-paste emails or automated phone messages, the customers will feel that the brand is distant and disengaged from their concerns. So, if you want your customers to return time and time again, it’s worth investing in your customer-facing teams so that they can deliver welcoming, supportive and personalised service every time a customer reaches out.
How to improve your customer service
To perfect your customer service and other parts of the Customer Experience, it’s a good idea to gather feedback directly from your existing customers. This way, you can track what your brand is doing well and what needs improvement before people are tempted to turn to your competitors.
If you’re not tapping into your customers’ suggestions, you’re likely to miss out on valuable insights that could take your customer service to the next level. Once you do choose to engage with their feedback, however, you’ll be able to make the right changes at the right times which saves resources and increases customer satisfaction.
If you want to reduce your abandonment rate, improve your brand reputation and increase your profits, a customer feedback strategy is the first place to start. For more advice and tools, sign up for the Review Tui launch later this year, or you can download our comprehensive guide right now. You’ll have all the information you need to make the most of your customer feedback and ensure the quality of your customer service.