What is customer service? Definition and examples
Customer service refers to the interactions between a product or service provider and customers. The interactions may occur before, during, and after a sale. Customer service is crucial for good customer loyalty. It ensures customer satisfaction and encourages repeat purchases. It also adds value to a product or service.
The term may also refer to the department of a company that deals with customer inquiries, feedback, and complaints. For example, you may read on a web page: “If you want to contact Customer Service, click here…”
In the hotel and restaurant business, customer service tends to mean how waiters and other staff treat their customers. If the business has many restaurants or hotels, the meaning widens to include call centers, etc.
Some customers and inquirers prefer to communicate with a human being rather than an AI entity in an automated customer service system. Even as technology advances apace, most companies still retain the option of speaking to a living person.
BusinessDictionary.com has the following definition of the term:
“All interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationship.”
The importance of customer service
Customer service is a crucial component of any professional or reputable business. It offers support for customers before and after they purchase something. It is an important component of a positive customer experience.
The service today in most companies goes significantly beyond simply offering telephone support. Customer service is also available via social media, text messaging, the web, and email.
You might have the best product on the market, but if your customer service is poor, consumers’ perception of your brand may not be as great as you think it is.
Companies that value excellent customer service tend to spend more time and money training employees than the average company in their sector. They are also more likely to seek customer feedback early on so that they may address any shortcomings or complaints before they become serious problems.
Self-service customer support
Self-service, in this context, means that customers inquire and then find solutions on their own.
Thanks to modern technology and AI, this type of service is becoming increasingly common. AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, which refers to software that makes computers, robots, and other smart machines think and behave like humans.
In a HubSpot article, Clint Fontanella makes the following comment regarding self-service customer support:
“Self-service options provide customers with faster solutions that they can find on their own time.”
“Rather than having to pick up a phone and wait on hold, customers can use your company’s resources to look up answers to simple support questions.”
If more customers are solving problems on their own, the seller also benefits. The human customer service reps have more time to help customers with bigger or more urgent problems. If you are a customer, how long you have to wait in a queue before somebody is free will be much shorter. In fact, you might not have to wait at all.
The term ChatBot is short for Chat Robot. It is a piece of AI software that chats to people – in this case, customers. Chatbots can have written or spoken conversations.
Thanks to AI technology, these programs are rapidly getting better at simulating how a human behaves in a conversation. A growing number of companies are including them as part of their customer service options. Unlike humans, they can deal with multiple people simultaneously.
According to SalesForce.com:
- 53% of service companies plan to use chatbots within the next 18 months.
- 50% of agents with no AI chatbots can spend most of their time solving difficult problems, versus 64% of agents with AI chatbots.
Salesforce.com makes the following comment:
“As new technologies take root, customers’ expectations are quickly growing. Customers demand real-time interactions — which is exactly what chatbots deliver.”
“Given the choice between filling out a website form or getting answers from a chatbot, only 14% of customers would choose the form, according to this survey.”
The following quote comes from one of our own articles on automation:
“The goal of a chatbot should be to satisfy customer needs, thereby providing a smooth journey, from gathering information to resolving complaints as quickly as possible where a customer walks away with a unique experience.”
“Automation transforms how customers interact with a brand or organization, doing away with unpleasant interactions, and offering exceptional customer experience.”
Some businesses today have a feedback loop that allows them to gather and analyze feedback data in real time, i.e., while consumers are using the product or service. National Express, a British multinational public transport company, invites bus passengers to send text messages during their ride.
Instant feedback allows product and service providers to improve their customer service and consumers’ purchasing experience before they go elsewhere.
“Technology has made it increasingly easier for companies to obtain feedback from their customers. Community blogs and forums give customers the ability to give detailed explanations of both negative as well as positive experiences with a company/organization.”
Cloud call center
Cloud-based call center software can help make sure that your company helps customers more efficiently. Unlike traditional contact centers, which often do not give inquirers a clear path to the right department, cloud solutions are more likely to provide them with the answers they need.
Cloud contact centers are scalable on demand. They can adapt to fluctuating demand.
“Instead of temporarily hiring new customer service representatives to handle these occasional increases in calls — which involves lots of training and other time-consuming tasks on your part — your cloud-based call center can use the on-demand features of the cloud, including high-volume proactive notifications through interactive voice response and/or SMS options.”
“Cloud-based call centers also ensure that agents are available to help your customers whenever they call.”
In a cloud computing system, files and other data are kept in remote computers rather than in your computer’s hard drive. We refer to these remote computers as The Cloud.
Virtual Contact Center
A virtual contact center uses agents who work remotely, for example, from their homes or offices far away. The main infrastructure of this type of contact center includes cloud-based services and Internet protocol.
Thanks to these technologies, customer service agents have access to a seller’s network, from which they receive routed calls.
“A virtual call center saves a business the agony of having to pay rent and a host of other expenses. Unlike the traditional model, virtual call centers involve the use of agents who are often required to work from home, or remotely.”