Attempting to arrive at a customer service definition that everyone in your company would agree with might seem a fool’s errand, but taking a step back to define its key elements can be a useful exercise—one that can help you focus on what really matters to your customers and to your businesses. Let’s deconstruct what we mean when we say customer service.
1. Service through the sales life cycle
At its most basic level, customer service means providing support to customers throughout the purchase life cycle: before, during, and after. That entails delivering the right service experience—either self-service or agent-assisted—to the right user at the right time within a company’s budget and customer experience goals.
Those customer experience goals serve a crucial business need: attracting and retaining customers in a highly competitive marketplace. Customers will purchase more goods and services after a good customer service experience, and even more will stop buying after a negative experience. Those experiences have a long-lasting impact: nearly a quarter of customers continue to seek out a vendor two or more years after a positive experience. In other words, customers have long memories. Work with company leaders to ensure all employees, not just support reps, treat your customers well. Otherwise, be prepared to see them go to your competition.
2. Building relationships with customers
Customer service is not just about providing support throughout the purchase life cycle—it’s also about looking out for customers’ best interests and being empathetic to their emotional states. Building relationships with your customers isn’t just about providing support. It’s about valuing your customers’ time and being kind.
Doing so not only helps your company retain those customers (see a trend here?), it helps drive promote your brand as one that actually cares about it’s customers, helping you attract new customers through online reviews and word of mouth.
3. Adding value to the product or service
Finally, customer service is the process of adding value to your product or service. Your product could be the best thing since sliced bread, but it won’t be complete unless you offer service to your customers. And by focusing on serving your customers’ needs, you unlock critical analytics (via CRM tools, surveys, and so on) that you can use to drive business decisions that will ensure that your customers get the products and services that they want down the road.
But it goes far beyond data mining. You can add value by offering white papers and other resources, and by providing information that helps your customers use products more effectively or run their businesses better, those patrons will be more likely to view you as a trusted partner.
Learn more about defining your customer support, read Forrester’s report, 2017 Customer Service Trends: Operations Become Smarter and More Strategic