Customer service can be defined as the activities that a company engages in to help its customers be successful. In-person interactions, toll-free help desks, online support forums, and live chat are common vehicles by which customer service is delivered. Some companies focus on providing service after an initial transaction is made; others believe that customer service is an essential element of the entire buyer journey.
Internal opinions aside, what’s more important is understanding how the people you serve define “customer service.” Just because you think your company provides great service is no guarantee that customers agree.
So, how can your company be more responsive, provide better service, and elevate the overall customer experience? Let’s take a closer look.
Why is customer service important?
Customers are more likely to thrive when your company makes customer service a top priority. After all, most products and services have a learning curve that requires some amount of training, onboarding, continuous education, and ongoing support. Although customers do not spend every moment of their lives thinking about the solutions that you provide, they do expect things to work when they need them to. Customer service, therefore, fills an important gap between your solutions and each customer’s abilities, knowledge, and expectations.
Prioritizing customer service has many downstream benefits for your company, too. For starters, each customer service interaction is an opportunity to collect attitudinal data, which is particularly valuable in today’s era of “contactless” eCommerce transactions. Collecting the right data makes it easier to understand your personas, identify detractors to the customer experience, and develop strategies for increasing customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction leads to better retention, more transactions, and a bounty of online and word-of-mouth referrals for your company.
In short, excellent customer service makes customers happy. Happy customers help you get even more happy customers. It’s a happy cycle.
Customer service vs. customer support
Although the terms customer service and customer support are closely related, they’re not exactly the same. Typically, “customer support” (or “customer success”) refers to an operational department that is responsible for helping customers when they have questions or issues. Customer support teams spend their days responding to emails, answering phone calls, and resolving tickets.
No doubt, support teams have a major influence on the quality of service that customers receive. That being said, customer service extends well beyond the walls (or virtual walls) of a support department.
To stay ahead of quota, for example, a company’s sales team must keep customer service at the forefront of what it does. Successful product development teams put the customer at the center of its engineering and design efforts. Even back-office departments, such as accounts payable teams, must align their conduct with solid customer service principles. Otherwise, customers may begin to look elsewhere for a more enjoyable buying experience.
Ensuring excellent customer service
If customer service is the responsibility of an entire organization (not just customer support), how can you begin building a customer service-focused culture? Here are three ideas.
1. Forget about your legacy systems & walk in the customer’s shoes
Many companies have already implemented a variety of business practices, technology, and processes to ensure that customers receive good service. Overly complex legacy systems, however, can make it difficult to see the bigger picture. As a result, some business leaders accept 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 customer’s eyes. Start by asking yourself this simple question:
If I were a customer, how would I rate the overall service that I receive?
Developing a customer journey map is one approach for objectively answering this question. Perhaps your support team is doing an excellent job of answering one-off questions, but your online documentation and training needs an upgrade. Or, perhaps customers consistently experience long and confusing delays during implementation, and you just need a better way to convert sales deals to projects. Study the customer journey holistically and identify the biggest gaps that require attention.
2. Analyze the right data & metrics
CSAT (customer satisfaction) score is the most widely used metric in customer service. Customer support software collects CSAT scores by automatically emailing the customer after a ticket is closed. Support teams use CSAT data to track high-level trends and identify potential issues that require correction.
CSAT might be a go-to metric for support departments, but it fails to provide meaningful context into a customer’s interaction with sales, operations, finance, and other customer-facing teams. For customer service insights that extend beyond CSAT, consider looking in your CRM. Depending on your CRM’s reports and dashboards, you may already have several useful metrics at your fingertips. How is customer service impacting your key business metrics, such as churn rate, conversion rate, and net new business? Is there a correlation? Drill down, explore your data, and get some answers.
3. Don’t try to scale too quickly
Customers want to be successful with the solutions that you provide. They want answers to their most difficult questions. And, perhaps more importantly, they want to feel valued and understood by you. Simply allocating more budget for new technology is not a long-term solution for improving customer service. Efficiency is important, but it’s not everything.
Focus on delivering an amazing experience throughout the entire customer journey. Routinely ask customers to share feedback about 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.
Enhancing the customer experience with better service
Does your company need a fresh approach to customer service?
It’s time to take a break from the day-to-day operations and reimagine what customer service should be. Ask the difficult questions. Find out what customers expect throughout the entire journey—not just from support agents. And, continuously look for ways to integrate a customer service mindset throughout your entire organization.
If you would like to learn how to use a CRM to provide a stellar customer service and overall customer experience, request a demo with an Insightly rep. No commitment required.