When talking about customer service, we often look at it from a business perspective. We think how it can improve our relations with customers or how many more sales it can help us close. For businesses, it’s a way to get in touch with customers, help them and get some extra feedback. However, what is customer service for our customers?
We rarely stop to think how website visitors or existing customers view or approach our customer service.
The perception of customer service changes depending on who you ask. Let’s see how you can get good customer service out of all these definitions that would align well with both your company’s and your customers’ interests.
What is customer service to a business
For quite some time, customer service has stopped being an option for businesses. In the past, businesses could go quite far without providing any real customer service because specific services or products were so sparse. Now, everything is vastly available and the competition is very high.
Businesses can no longer not offer customer service or they would face defeat on the market. Gartner reports that by the end of 2016 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer service and that by 2017 50% of investments in consumer products will be shifted to improving customer experience. So the first answer to the question “what is customer service to a business” would be: a necessity.
Customer service provides means of communication between a business and a customer before and after making a purchase. Businesses help customers in hopes that it would boost the chances of netting a sale. So in a sense, you could consider customer service a part of your sales funnel.
After a sale is made, a business can use customer service for two more things: customer retention and as a customer feedback gathering tool. Gathering customer feedback comes down to asking customers whether they are satisfied with the received service or not. You can also poll customers on how they see your product to possibly make some improvements. When it comes to customer retention, businesses use customer service to make sure that a customer makes new purchases or keeps paying for certain services.
What is customer service for website visitors and customers
According to Shep Hyken, no matter what definition a business comes up for customer service, it doesn’t really matter because what matters is how customers see service themselves.
Customer service means something quite different for customers. By all means it’s also a form of communication for them, but the communication happens for different reasons. Let’s take a look at what this can be.
Website visitors use customer service mainly for research purposes. They want to find out if a product or service is worth it so they ask questions. Whenever they can’t find a piece of information on a company’s website they will head to the customer section of a website to ask for help. What’s more, they can also ask agents about their opinion or particular products when they can’t decide between two similar items or services on their own.
When a website visitor decides to make a purchase and becomes a customer, they shift their customer service needs a bit. They will now ask support-related questions. For example, they can ask about a late delivery, report a faulty product or get an agent to help them figure how a specific product works.
Customers don’t really care about any future possibilities of buying your product or whether you get enough data to improve your business. They are focused on here and now. And if the here and now is related to a product that doesn’t work properly, your customer service has to resolve any problems before you can think about getting the customer to buy more.
What is good customer service
Facing these two different views on customer service, it’s important to understand what is the primary role of customer service in any business.
Customer service is the most customer-faced part of any business. When asked about a company, a customer won’t cite your product description or your mission statement. They will tell about their past experiences with your brand and how did you help them (or not). For all intents and purposes, customer service is the face of your business.
In a sense, the goals of businesses and customers somewhat align and overlap. For example, without good customer support and agents willing to go the extra mile to help existing customers, you can forget about customer retention.
The same goes for customer feedback: there’s no point to gathering feedback if your service is universally bad and visitors or customers aren’t getting much out of it.
This means that businesses should focus on how customers see customer service and to make sure it works without a hitch first. This will in turn allow them to achieve business goals like increasing retention or gathering extra feedback.
To put it simply, you can’t have customer feedback or high retention without taking care of customers’ needs first. So our final definition of good customer service needs would be: Good customer service happens when you first think of the customers’ needs before you start to think about the needs of your business.
What is customer service for your business?
What is your take on customer service? Are your goals more business-oriented or do you focus on delivering a service that is customer-first? And is it more of a burden or an opportunity?
Feel free to share you opinion on what is customer service in the comments section.