Customer service can be defined as the activities a company takes to help its customers succeed. In-person interactions, toll-free help desks, online support forums and live chat are common means by which customer service is provided. Some companies focus on providing services after an initial transaction. others believe that customer service is an essential element of the entire buyer journey.
Aside from internal opinions, it’s more important to understand how the people you serve define “customer service”. Just because you think your company provides great service doesn’t guarantee customers will agree.
How can your company react faster, provide better service, and improve the overall customer experience? Let’s take a closer look.
Why is customer service important?
Customers are more likely to thrive if your company makes customer service a top priority. After all, most products and services have a learning curve that requires some level of training, onboarding, ongoing learning, and ongoing support. While customers don’t spend every moment of their life thinking about the solutions you offer, they expect things to work when they need them. Customer service therefore bridges an important gap between your solutions and the skills, knowledge and expectations of each customer.
Prioritizing customer service also has many downstream benefits for your company. To start with, every customer service interaction is an opportunity to collect attitudes data, which is especially useful in today’s era of “contactless” e-commerce transactions. By collecting the right data, you can more easily understand your personas, impact the customer experience, and develop strategies to increase customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction leads to better customer loyalty, more transactions, and a variety of online and word of mouth recommendations for your business.
In short, excellent customer service makes customers happy. Satisfied customers help you to win even more satisfied customers. It’s a happy cycle.
Customer service vs. customer support
While the terms customer service and customer service are closely related, they are not exactly the same. Typically, “customer support” (or “customer success”) refers to an operational department that is responsible for helping customers with questions or problems. Customer support teams spend their days replying to emails, answering calls, and resolving tickets.
Without a doubt, support teams have a huge impact on the quality of service customers receive. However, customer service extends well beyond the walls (or virtual walls) of a support department.
For example, to beat the quota, a company’s sales team needs to keep customer service at the forefront of their operations. Successful product development teams place the customer at the center of their design and engineering efforts. Even back office departments like accounts payable teams need to base their behavior on solid customer service principles. Otherwise, customers may be looking elsewhere for a more enjoyable shopping experience.
Ensuring excellent customer service
If customer service is the responsibility of an entire company (not just customer support), then how do you start building a customer service-centric culture? Here are three ideas.
1. Forget about your legacy systems and follow in the customer’s footsteps
Many companies have already implemented various business practices, technologies, and processes to ensure that customers receive good service. However, legacy systems that are too complex can make it difficult to see the big picture. As a result, some business leaders are accepting the status quo at the expense of the customer experience.
Legacy systems aside, it’s time to take a step back and see things through your customers’ eyes. First, ask yourself this simple question:
If i were a customer how would i rate all of the service i get?
The development of a customer journey map is an approach to answer this question objectively. Perhaps your support team is great at answering one-time questions, but your online documentation and training need updating. Or customers consistently have long and confusing delays during implementation and you just need a better way to turn sales deals into projects. Study the customer journey holistically and identify the biggest gaps that require attention.
2. Analyze the right data and metrics
The CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) score is the most commonly used metric in customer service. The customer support software collects CSAT results by automatically sending an email to the customer after a ticket is closed. Support teams use CSAT data to track general trends and identify potential issues that need to be corrected.
CSAT may be a point of contact for support departments, but does not provide a meaningful context for a customer’s interaction with sales, operations, finance, and other customer-facing teams. For customer service insights beyond CSAT, check out your CRM. Depending on your CRM’s reports and dashboards, you may already have several useful metrics available. How does customer service affect your key business metrics such as churn rate, conversion rate and net new business? Is there a correlation? Drill down, examine your data, and get some answers.
3. Don’t try to scale too fast
Customers want to be successful with the solutions you offer. They want answers to their toughest questions. And, perhaps more importantly, they want you to feel valued and understood. Just allocating more budget for new technologies is not a long-term solution for improving customer service. Efficiency is important, but not everything.
Focus on delivering an amazing experience throughout the customer journey. Regularly ask customers to share feedback on their interactions with support, sales, finance, accounting, and other teams. Use data to confirm that your customer service strategy is actually working.
Then, and only then, look for ways to scale.
Improving the customer experience through better service
Does your company need a new approach to customer service?
It’s time to take a break from day-to-day operations and rethink customer service. Ask the tough questions. Find out what customers expect throughout the trip – not just from support agents. Continually look for ways to incorporate a customer service mindset into your entire business.
If you’d like to learn how to use a CRM to deliver great customer service and a rich customer experience, request a demo with an Insightly representative. No commitment required.
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