Also known as after-sales service, customer service is a business function through which a seller deals with the complaints, grievances, requests, or product/service assistance requirements of a customer. Besides serving existing customers, the customer service team must also cater to potential customers. Greeting buyers into the store, hearing out their needs and complaints, responding to customer messages online (on Internet forums, social media, live chat, etc.) or through email and phone, etc. are various aspects of customer service.
The authority to offer assistance, patience, attentiveness, clear communication skills, product knowledge, persuasion skills, positive language, willingness to learn and listen, being able to read customers, a never-say-die attitude, timeliness, etc. are required to serve customers right. Customer service personnel who aren’t authorized or able to resolve customer issues on their own risk alienating the buyer.
Customer service is not just helping troubled customers or responding to their queries, but it’s also helping customers benefit most out of a product or service. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance the buyer’s experience with the product and make him familiar with product elements he was not aware of. If done right, customer service would lead to:
- Enhanced customer loyalty, leading to increased sales and profits
- Brand-building or enhanced reputation through word-of-mouth
- Decreased buying barriers – for instance, a company with a reputation for good customer service is likely to attract even the most hesitant first-time buyers
More than Just a Service
A customer service team is primarily the backbone of any firm, and is a reflection of the company’s attitude and dedication towards its customers – during, before, and after a sale. The sales department must focus on sales; the after-sales service team should try winning over buyer confidence, even if that meant incurring financial losses. If a business has long-term goals and wants a satisfied and loyal customer base, it cannot afford to sideline the customer service business function.
The modern, Internet-savvy consumer doesn’t immediately contact customer support when in doubt or requiring assistance. The buyer first heads online and looks up the particular company’s website for product usage instructions, troubleshooting tips and guidelines.
Companies should therefore ensure their website or online knowledge bases are exhaustive enough. Being able to find a solution to a problem or question without having to contact the customer support team makes a substantial difference in how the company or brand is perceived. FAQ sections and readily available self-service information also bring down a company’s service-related costs.