Customer Service Part 1: What is it?

Article posted by on August 26, 2013

By Jeff Walker

Customer service is something I’ve had a passion for, since the beginning of my adult life. Having been a customer myself, and having served customers, I am keenly aware of how my behavior on both sides of the desk affect any transactions in my daily life. From my visit to Starbuck’s to the daily emails we receive at, how I handle each situation sets the tone for how future relations with the person on the other end might happen.

In my mind, customer service is the number one aspect of any business that not only affects any new business that might come your way, but more importantly, repeat business, something every company relies on. customer service 1Customer service starts with the first phone call and, to some degree, never ends. It could be argued that it ends with the last item being delivered, or the follow-up email asking for feedback, but if the customer comes back to use your services a second or third time, the cycle begins all over again each time.

So what is customer service exactly? According to Efraim Turban in the book “Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective” customer service can be defined as: “a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.” I would actually argue that if you are doing customer service right, you will not only meet the expectations of the customer, but you will actually exceed those expectations. In addition, customer service is not just a series of activities, but a set of highly focused behavior that a company utilizes to increase the satisfaction of their customers leading to repeat and new business.

Good customer service doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and experience in not only knowing what might go wrong with a particular job, but how to fix those problems as they arise. It takes knowing each aspect of the job, each step in the process and not only figuring out how to keep those things that can go wrong from doing so, but finding ways to make it better, to keep that customer experience growing in a highly competitive marketplace.

In a Wal-Mart centric world, we often see “customer service” being replaced with bottom dollar pricing, instant returns for not being satisfied with the product or getting something for free simply because the customer wasn’t happy with a product or service. Often times, this leads managers and company owners into the thought that this is going to end up costing them money, hence many management dollarindividuals see customer service as a company liability, something that bleeds the cash off the bottom line. Obviously, the only thing that is going to make a customer happy is making my service cheaper or giving them their money back if they’re not completely satisfied. Nothing could be further from the truth. A typical customer just wants what they paid for, in this case, a low-stress move with as few mishaps as possible.

In the real world, things go wrong, items get broken or lost and people have a bad day now and then. The primary goal of customer service is to minimize the number of things that can go wrong, before they go wrong, and if something does go wrong, make it right. Customer service is not just the responsibility of a few people in a company, it is the responsibility of everyone in that company. Good customer service lets your customers know that you really care about them and have a desire to make their experience a good one.

In the next several segments, we’ll talk a little more about how to achieve these goals through proper planning and tools your staff can use to give your customers a better overall experience.

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