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What is customer service?

A definition of customer service with details of the different types of customer service and a discussion of the modern/historical perspective
Editorial team

/ Last updated on 30th October 2017

Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after the purchase of any product. Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the experience of the customers. The sole purpose of the customer service is to meet the expectations of the customers so that they are satisfied with the outcome. These services are also available to understand the queries of the customers and ensure that they enjoy a cost effective experience after purchasing any product from the respective company.

Related: 7 ways to deal with angry customers

A good customer service benefits the business or companies as it will eventually produce satisfied customers. However, a bad customer service might end up generating unhappy and unsatisfied customers. It may result in effecting a business in a negative way.

Customer support

Customer support is a series of customer services to support the customers in making the correct use of a product. Customer support provides the customers with a series of services in order to make cost-effective choices and appropriate use of a product.

Kinds of customer service

Many businesses today follow the trend of providing the customers with good customer service to ensure the customers’ good experience during the use of their product. This eventually helps businesses to leave a positive impact on the customers and keep customers satisfied. Over the years, companies and organisations have been coming up with different kinds of customer services to have a cost effective marketing experience.

For instance, customer service can be of many kinds. It may be in person through sales representatives or over the phone. One more popular kind of customer service is known as automated service. One excellent example of automated service that many people might be able to relate to is through internet sites.

Irrespective of what kind of customer service an organisation is providing, as long as the customers benefit through it and enjoy a cost effective experience it will always prove beneficial for both; the customer and the company.

Some customers also require at home customer services for the installation, maintenance or upgrading of their products. In order to provide the customers with excellent experience, customer support teams tend to the problems through at home customer services.

Customer Service- From the Beginning to the Present

The need for customer service has been felt by people ever since the very beginning of time. It might be hard to figure out a definite year or time when the customer services began. As soon as people buy something, there is an on-going need for finding out more about the product through the seller in order to have a cost effective experience.

Dawn of Civilisation

Like mentioned earlier, there is no definite year that can tell us when the customer service first began. As soon as a person purchases something from the seller, there is a level of customer service experienced by the buyer. It is the duty of the person selling a product to answer any queries that the buyer may have. To sum up, the first customer service may have begun at the dawn of civilisation when trading items, buying and selling various items was first practised by the people.

In-Person Customer Service

When trading items first began, that was the beginning of the very first kind of customer service; in person customer service to be exact. Trading began as soon as the people started to realise their need for better items and necessities in life. The people involved in trading, buying and selling items at the dawn of civilisation were unknowingly implementing customer service as a part of their activities.

However, now with the advancement in technology, in person customer service has evolved quite dramatically as the sales representatives are trained to provide the customers with good and cost effective experience.

Automated customer service

The evolution of customer service led to the beginning of automated customer service. As the majority of the people began to rely on technology for various purposes, organisations and businesses felt the need to gain direct contact with the customers. This could be done effectively by making use of their websites. Today, there are many large companies and organisations that offer automated customer service, and their services are appreciated by their customers for providing them with appropriate solutions to their problems.

Using Customer Service for Your Benefit

The sole purpose of customer service is mainly to ensure that all of the questions and problems of the customers are answered and solved. Most customers who seek help from a company’s customer service department are mainly looking for a chance to get to know the product better. A good customer service may not just benefit the customers, but it may also help in growing the company or the business. It may help the company figure out where they might be lagging behind or change the way any unhappy customer feels about them. A good customer service may do wonders for any start-up or known company.

Builds Reputation and Client Loyalty

When a customer has any queries about a product, it may be an opportunity for any business to earn the loyalty of their customer by providing them with good customer care.  When a company takes the queries or the problem of a customer seriously and offers good solution, they are building a good reputation for their company. A content customer will most likely recommend a company’s product or service to their friend which is great especially for start-up businesses.

Customer Service Today

Customer service has evolved drastically in the past few years and with it, the needs, requirements and attitude of the customers towards the sales representative has also changed. A sales representative today may have to face several challenges while listening to the customers’ queries and problems. Today customers can be very straightforward with how and what they feel and expect instant results and answers; this makes the job of any sales or service representative quite difficult. It is also important for a customer service representative to understand that while listening to a customer, it is their job to change the way a customer feels and not the facts.

Understanding the Needs of the Customers

Most customer service departments today neglect the queries of the customers. A customer’s complaint or query may change the outlook of your company. One-time bad service to any one customer may leave a bad impression for many years to come. Neglecting queries of the customers may bring harm to the reputation of the company built by a lot of hard work. However, by simply understanding the needs of the customers, companies today may gain the opportunity to rise above their weakness and leave a good impression on their clients and customers.

Challenges for Customer Service Representatives

A customer service representative faces several problems in one single day. There are many challenges in this field and all of them need to be taken care of quite efficiently, or it might leave a bad impression on the name of the company. With the rising demand and needs of the people, the complaints and queries of the customers rise equally when these demands and needs are not fulfilled. There may be several questions that a customer may have or numerous things that the customer does not understand, and all of these must be answered efficiently, and it may help any business flourish.

Unsatisfied Customers

The most common problem that is often faced is unsatisfied customers. Sometimes their reason for being unsatisfied with your product is valid, and sometimes it is not. It is the duty of a customer service representative to tackle all their queries and reasons for being unsatisfied and seek a suitable solution. To avoid any misunderstanding and miscommunication in between the customer and the customer service representative, the best thing to do is to be upfront and clear about what solution a company is willing to offer and what a customer may expect.

A customer might also be unsatisfied with the service that a company is providing and that is also one of the most crucial challenges faced by many customer service departments. To always be on top, a customer service representative needs to be upfront and very clear about what the company is willing to do in order to provide them with a satisfying service.

The Ever-Changing Needs of the Customers

The needs of the customers are ever changing. With every second call and query, their needs and demands change. It is often a drawback for the company to fulfil the needs of all the customers, hence, a company and customer service representatives are often unable to satisfy all the customers. With the changing needs of the customers, it becomes difficult for the companies to focus on one goal. When a company tries to satisfy all the customers, they often end up satisfying no one which is often a very common problem for large companies and business. However, for any company to have a customer-focused business, there is a need to acquire all the resources such as trained staff, time and innovative ideas.

Related: 4 Ways to increase customer retention

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