what is customer service

Remember that time you ordered the perfect pair of boots online, only to be crushed when they arrived and just weren’t quite right?  

You sigh, brace yourself for a customer service call filled with menus and hold music, hoping for a smooth return process.  

But then, you reach Zappos. The friendly voice on the other end listens patiently, offers to send a complimentary overnight replacement in your preferred size, and even throws in a free return shipping label for good measure.   

Suddenly, that online shoe shopping snafu transforms into a surprisingly delightful experience. 

That’s the magic of Zappos customer service – and in this blog, we’ll delve deeper into what customer service is, its importance, and strategies for delivering exceptional customer service. 

What is Customer Service? 

Customer service is the support, assistance, and advice provided by a business to its customers before, during, and after a purchase. It’s all about creating a positive experience for the customer, ensuring their needs are met and they feel valued. 

Customer service acts as the frontline for building customer loyalty and driving business growth. By providing prompt and helpful interactions, they can turn one-time buyers into repeat customers, boost sales through positive word-of-mouth, and identify areas for product or service improvement. 

The Importance of Customer Service for a Business 

Customer service is the backbone of any successful business. Here’s why it’s so important: 

Key Principles of Effective Customer Service

1. Builds customer loyalty 

Positive interactions with customer service can turn one-time buyers into loyal fans. When customers feel valued and their needs are met, they’re more likely to return and recommend your business to others. 

2. Boosts sales & revenue

Loyal customers spend more and churn (cancel service) less. Excellent customer service can also lead to increased sales opportunities through upselling and cross-selling existing customers. Happy customers are more likely to spread the word through positive reviews and recommendations, attracting new customers. 

3. Improves brand reputation 

Great customer service experiences shape how people perceive your brand. By consistently resolving issues promptly and professionally, you build a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness. Negative experiences, on the other hand, can quickly damage your brand image. 

4. Provides valuable feedback from customers 

Customer service interactions are a goldmine for understanding customer needs and identifying areas for improvement. By listening to customer feedback, businesses can refine products and services, making them more responsive to customer demands. 

5. Increases employee satisfaction

When customer service representatives are empowered to resolve issues and provide excellent service, it creates a more positive work environment. Employees feel valued and take pride in their role, leading to higher morale and lower turnover.

Key Principles of Effective Customer Service 

Being able to deliver delightful customer service depends on the core principles you’ve established for your brand.  

For instance, Zappos’ philosophy of customer service revolved around a core concept: delivering happiness. They believed in: 

  • Customer obsession, 
  • Delivering WOW service, 
  • Employee empowerment, and 
  • Building customer loyalty 

You can also build an effective customer service strategy following the 3 core principles. 

Key Principles of Effective Customer Service

1. Understand the needs and expectations of your customers 

Imagine you’re a customer service rep for a fitness tracker company. A customer calls in frustrated because their tracker won’t connect to their phone.  Simply resetting the device might solve the issue, but by understanding needs and expectations, you can take it further. 

  • Understanding Needs:  You ask if this is their first tracker, or if they’ve used a similar model before.  Knowing their tech experience helps tailor your solution. 
  • Understanding Expectations:  You inquire if they planned to use the tracker for running that day.  Knowing their goal allows you to prioritize a quick fix. 

By understanding these aspects, you can not only resolve the connection issue but also offer troubleshooting tips or suggest alternative workout options while they wait. This extra effort shows you care about their specific needs and goals, exceeding their basic expectation of a fix. This leads to a happier customer and strengthens the brand’s reputation for helpful service. 

2. Listen actively and communicate effectively 

Active listening and effective communication are the cornerstones of good customer service. Imagine a customer calls about a delayed package. Here’s why they’re crucial: 

  • Active Listening:  Just letting the customer vent can make a big difference. By truly listening (using phrases like “I understand” or asking clarifying questions), you show empathy and gather details. 
  • Effective Communication:  Once you understand their concerns, explain the situation clearly and avoid jargon.  Offer solutions (expedited shipping, apologies for inconvenience) and keep them updated. 

Through active listening, you avoid misunderstandings and frustrations. Effective communication shows the customer you care and are working towards a resolution. This can turn a negative experience into a positive one, building trust and loyalty. 

3. Introduce empathy and emotional intelligence in customer interactions 

Empathy and emotional intelligence (EQ) are game changers in customer service. Imagine a customer reaches out, upset about a damaged product. Here’s why they matter: 

  • Empathy: Putting yourself in their shoes allows you to understand their frustration. Phrases like “That sounds very inconvenient” show you acknowledge their feelings. 
  • Emotional Intelligence: You can then manage the situation effectively.  A calm and understanding tone de-escalates tension. 

By showing empathy and EQ, you build trust and rapport. The customer feels heard and valued, making them more receptive to solutions (replacements, discounts). This can turn a potentially negative interaction into a chance to strengthen the customer relationship. 

Now that we’ve laid the foundation, let’s delve into creating a successful customer service strategy. 

Strategies for Delivering Exceptional Customer Service with Examples from Leading Brands 

Strategies for Delivering Exceptional Customer Service

1. Training and empowering customer service representatives 

Customer service rep training involves a multi-pronged approach. 

1. Build a knowledge base: Provide in-depth product training and clear communication guidelines.   

2. Invest in soft skills development: Train on active listening, empathy, and problem-solving.   

3. Empowerment: Equip reps with the tools and resources to resolve issues independently.   

For example, Ritz-Carlton, a leading name in hospitality, empowers reps with a hefty budget to solve customer problems on the spot, fostering trust and creating memorable experiences. 

2. Implementing technology for efficient support 

Here’s how technology can boost customer support efficiency: 

  • Self-service options: Implement a knowledge base, FAQs, and chatbots to answer common questions and deflect simple inquiries, freeing reps for complex issues. 
  • Omnichannel communication: Allow customers to reach you through their preferred channels (phone, email, social media) and ensure seamless transitions between them. 
  • Ticketing & automation: Utilize ticketing systems to track and manage customer interactions and automate repetitive tasks like sending follow-up emails or appointment reminders. 

Amazon offers a stellar example of implementing technology in customer support. Their self-service options, including detailed product information and the FAQ section, empower customers to find solutions independently.  They also provide multi-channel support (phone, chat, social media) and a user-friendly online account system for easy order tracking and communication. 

3. Continuously improving the customer service process 

Improving your customer service process should be an ongoing activity. 

Brands should be adaptable to changing customer preferences and needs. The same apply in customer service domain too. For implementing this, 

  • Gather feedback: Actively solicit customer feedback through surveys, reviews, and social media interactions. Identify areas of strength and weakness. 
  • Analyze and adapt: Analyze the feedback to understand customer needs and pain points. Use this data to refine processes, improve training, and implement new technologies. 
  • Measure and track: Track key metrics like customer satisfaction scores and resolution times. Monitor these metrics to measure the impact of changes and identify areas for further improvement. 

Netflix excels at continuous improvement. They actively gather feedback through user ratings and surveys.  They use this data to personalize recommendations, develop new content, and improve their user interface.  By constantly analyzing customer behavior and adapting their approach, Netflix remains a leader in customer satisfaction. 

While we talk about implementing technology for customer service and improving existing process, it makes sense to invest in a customer service CRM software.  

LeadSquared’s Service CRM: Beyond a Helpdesk 

LeadSquared’s Service CRM is all-in-one solution with features like ticketing, communication channels, and analytics to give agents a 360-degree view of the customer and provide better customer service. 

Ticketing- service cloud

Contact us to find out more about the product capabilities. 

More in this series:   

 

Want to see LeadSquared in action?