What Is Customer Service?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Customer service is essential to the sustainability and growth of a brand. It ensures customer satisfaction and boosts your notoriety in the long term. If you are considering applying for a role as a customer service representative, you need to demonstrate your understanding of the industry to recruiters. The more knowledgeable you are, the more passionate; and therefore employable, you will appear to them.

In this article, we discuss what customer service is, its most important components and how to provide an excellent customer service experience with tips on improving customer service training.

What is a good definition of customer service?

Customer service is the support you offer to your customers throughout the customer journey, from before they make a purchase to after they make one. It's an ongoing relationship between a business and its customer base that facilitates the flow of information.

The rise of the digital age has transformed the customer service industry. No longer are customer service representatives available just in-person or via phone, but companies have also embraced virtual platforms, such as email, website messengers and social media chats. The multiple communication channels that are now available allow brands to deliver a highly tailored customer experience. This means that they can contact representatives at any time. Thus, customer service goes beyond just answering questions and solving problems, rather, it's an essential component to branding too.

Related: Preparing for the Future of Work

What are the three most important things in customer service?

The three most important things in customer service are professionalism, patience and a people-first attitude. Review the following to understand each component in greater detail:

Professionalism

Customer service representatives must maintain professionalism at all times despite their customer's emotions. It's only natural for customers to feel frustrated when they encounter a problem. Your duty is to remain calm and not take their complaints too personally. If you keep up a professional attitude, your customers are more likely to respect your authority and trust your judgement. As you act as a representative for your organisation, it's important to show respect. This way, you can protect their public reputation.

Patience

Customer service is not about attending to inquiries or complaints as quickly as possible, rather, it's about giving as much of your time and care to them. Being patient with your customers will invite them to share their thoughts and ideas with you. Patience encourages you to listen attentively so that you can get a better grasp of their situation. The more patient you are, the more capable you will be in helping them. When you provide them with a pleasant customer experience, they are more likely to continue their business relationship with you in the future.

Related: Why Quality Over Quantity Matters in Your Job Applications

People-first attitude

Excellent customer service prioritises the customer above personal or financial gain. It encourages you to be open-minded in your interactions with customers. This way, you can address their needs more effectively. A people-first attitude means that you go above and beyond the ordinary to appease their grievances. Awarding a customer with extra store credit, for example, is a great way to show your appreciation for them. It takes a lot of self-assurance and humbleness to deliver a successful customer service experience.

What is excellent customer service?

Excellent customer service boosts customer satisfaction. When your customers feel supported, they are more likely to be patient with you as you handle their inquiry or complaint. Excellent customer service also is an integral component of your brand image. It positions you as a leader in your industry that others should look up to as a barometer of success. This makes your organisation more marketable and therefore attracts a more loyal customer base.

In today's society, customers expect excellent customer service from their service providers. It acts as a measure of their values and ethical principles. People want to associate with brands that show a sense of responsibility. Thus, excellent customer service shows the public that you truly appreciate their commitment to your brand.

How to provide excellent customer service

Consider the following steps on how to develop an excellent customer service experience in your company:

1. Develop a customer service team

Customer service needs to be quick and productive. To achieve these two goals, it's important to build a supportive customer service team. The size of your team will largely depend on the size of your organisation and your customers' needs. Recruiting specialists to deal with more technical products will ensure you have a team with a diverse skill set. Examine the personalities of your team members so that you can pair them with customers that have a similar communication style.

2. Gain feedback from your customers

It's important to gather feedback from your customers during your interaction with them and after you address their complaint or inquiry. This way, you can gather enough information to determine whether you have understood their grievance and whether you can provide any additional assistance. As you attend to their problem, ask them questions regularly as a show of support. After their inquiry, send them a survey to collect data on how you can improve your service. It's important to acknowledge your customers as you deal with their situation because it makes them feel heard.

3. Build a friendly service culture

Identify the key values you want to portray in your customer service experience. Some common characteristics include positivity, genuineness and empathy. Building a customer service culture is essential because it relates to how the public perceives your brand. If customers associate your organisation with one that is friendly and considerate, they are more likely to continue their relationship with you in the future. Each organisation will have a unique philosophy that is derived from its own objectives.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

4. Know your product

Before you can help your customers, you must first familiarise yourself with your goods and services. Understand the common problems that customers report and take part in training sessions to learn about the various functions of each product. The more hands-on experience you get, the more comfortable you will feel addressing your customer's concerns. However, if you do not know how to attend to a customer's request, be honest about it with your customer. Be gracious and ask a more knowledgeable colleague for help.

5. Strive for improvement

Use customer feedback and data to improve your customer service initiatives. You should assess these metrics on a regular basis so that you can continue to deliver a quality experience. Identify your strengths and weaknesses to understand what you can rely on and what behaviours need further training.

Use your customer service feedback to improve your products and services. For example, if you notice that a particular issue comes up frequently, investigate it in greater detail to prevent it from arising again.

What is customer service training?

Customer service is a company's opportunity to connect with their customers and show that they care. Customer service training ensures that you execute this goal effectively. It comprises a range of training initiatives that help customer service representatives familiarise themselves with their organisation's products, services and objectives. Its aim is to equip them with the right resources to increase customer satisfaction. The hope is that they will feel more confident in their ability to perform their duties.

Customer service training is a continuous commitment to employee growth and development. It's important to stay updated as your company introduces new products and services. Actively taking part in these training programs will help you stand out as a dedicated employee.

Tips to train your customer service skills

The following are a few guidelines to help you improve your customer service skills:

  • Create a code of standard practices. A document that outlines your employer's expectations and guidelines for behaviour will enhance the cohesion of your customer services team. When problems occur, this will also facilitate transparency and accountability. It's a great tool to fall back on whenever you feel confused.

  • Boost product knowledge. Departments need to work together to support their customer services team. For example, before the launch of a new product or service, customer service representatives should already have received adequate training. This way, they will feel empowered to perform their duties effectively.

  • Identify key soft skills to facilitate communication. Attentive listening, interpersonal skills and problem-solving are all great examples of effective customer service skills. Identify areas for improvement in your team and target them with skills training.

  • Align yourself with your organisation's values and goals. Customer service representatives act as role models of their company's values. Thus, they need a deep understanding of what the company aims to achieve.

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