The role of customer service is to meet a customer's needs and enhance his perception of your business by making a positive impression he will remember. Effective customer service involves solving customers’ problems and earning their trust with the aim of increasing their loyalty to your business. Working in customer service is about constantly improving your ability to serve others.
Handle with Care
Ideally, customer service is stellar at every point of contact between your company and your customer. The customer’s entire experience can be elevated by a single act of extra attention or care, yet torpedoed by a single act of negligence, disappointment or lack of professionalism. Most companies are in direct contact with the company at many points such as by telephone, social media, over a store counter or through website interactions. If you’re working in customer service, every customer expects speed, knowledge and comfort when approaching you for help. Part of your role is meeting these expectations as professionally as possible and to the best of your ability, regardless of the method of interaction your customers use.
Be the Reliable Source
Customers care mainly about having their needs met, according to an August 2013 McKinsey and Company article. Customer service is about consistently meeting -- even anticipating -- every customer’s needs. You must make every customer’s journey so satisfying that they will keep wanting to come back. McKinsey’s research found that 70 percent of “very satisfied customers” build a favorable impression it they’ve had their needs met through at least three interactions. When handling customer service, your responsibility is to consistently meet your clientele's needs.
Keep Them Coming Back...With Friends
Effective customer service generates repeat sales. Part of generating ongoing sales is cultivating an excellent brand reputation. Happy customers contribute to a company’s reputation through their loyalty and their referrals to friends. Unhappy customers, however, can make a direct and negative impact on your organization’s reputation. Research conducted in 2011 by Cone Communications, a public relations firm, found that four out of five customers reversed a purchase decision after reading bad reviews of the product or brand online. Customer service responsibilities include encouraging happy customers to spread the word and immediately remedying any negative experiences before your reputation is damaged.
Strengthen the Front Line
Customer service requires business leaders to empower every employee in direct contact with customers to make and execute decisions that create a good customer experience. As a manager or business owner, your role is to provide the tools, training and systems that make interactions with customers as seamless as possible. Additionally, giving your employees the authority to make decisions to meet unforeseen customer needs on the spot, and in new ways, can improve your organization's overall level of customer service.
- Harvard Business School: Working Knowledge: Nail Customer Service
- Harvard Business School Blog Network: Here’s How to Actually Empower Customer Service Employees
- McKinsey & Company: From Moments to Journeys: A Paradigm Shift in Customer Service Excellence
- Cone Communications: Cone Releases the 2011 Online Influence Trend Tracker
- Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images