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Customer Service Isn’t Optional

That a happy customer is a repeat customer is just one of the reasons why great customer service is essential to a company’s success. Customer service departments have the power to change critics into cheerleaders by solving problems for unhappy or dissatisfied customers.

Most successful companies have already investigated all avenues to minimize operational costs and maximize profits, but one way they can increase sales is by offering superior customer service.

Talented, well-trained customer service representatives (CSRs) can turn problems into opportunities, build customer loyalty, and create company ambassadors so happy with the service they received that they turn around and market the company and product for free.

Today’s consumers have a plethora of choices, and there is always another company offering a similar product at a lower price. In this competitive environment, excellent service almost always trumps the lowest price.

What many companies are learning is that social media provides instant channels for unhappy customers to voice complaints. Happy customers don’t just tell others about their experience, they also bring repeat business and tend to be more receptive to a company’s premium offerings.

Companies with a reputation for good customer service can better attract potential customers, including nervous or hesitant people who may worry about product returns and buyer remorse.

What Counts as Good Customer Service?

  • Listening to customers’ complaints and compliments.
  • Providing up-to-date information and advice.
  • Responding in a timely manner to queries and questions.
  • Not making promises that fall outside the company’s capacity to deliver.
  • Apologizing for errors or delays.
  • Being sincere.
  • Treating all customers with respect.
  • Exceeding customer expectations.
  • Making a human connection.
  • Having excellent product and service knowledge.

Forbes contributor Shep Hyken notes: “Great customer service doesn’t happen by accident.” It needs to be integrated into employees’ mindset and philosophy. Taking customer service seriously requires managers to excel in all areas of business administration, which is why the customer experience is an important element of study in many MBA programs, like the online program offered by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. By studying organizational behavior and theory including individual, group, and intergroup behavior within organizations — and issues related to power, interpersonal relations, conflict management and team building — postgraduates can aim to excel at both employee experience and customer service.

Customer service is not exclusive to customer-facing positions. Staff performance in a variety of roles that involve direct and indirect customer contact can shape the reputation of a company. The following are essential skills that customer-savvy employers nurture across all areas of the organization:

  • Patience.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to interpret and predict a customer’s issues and concerns.
  • Attention to detail.
  • A willingness to solve problems.
  • A genuine interest in maintaining the high standards of the company.

The impact of word choice on customer service cannot be overstated. Skilled representatives turn problems into opportunities by changing the narrative of a customer conversation. For example, instead of saying, “I am sorry that product is out of stock; it won’t be available for another month,” a well-trained representative might say, “I can order that for you today and have it shipped in a few short weeks.”

Small changes in word choice and tone can make all the difference to delivering potentially bad news or pacifying an angry customer.

The best customer service representatives keep their cool even in hostile situations. They are flexible in searching for a solution to a customer’s specific problem. Managers can help staff conceptualize ways forward by outlining problem-solving techniques and strategies for common issues. Having staff brainstorm responses to typical questions can be a fruitful exercise.

Asking the questions who, what and how can also help with problem solving.

  • Who? Who can help with this problem? Knowing the answer to this question is often half the battle. A list of typical problems along with contact information can help CSRs route questions to the correct departments.
  • What? Sometimes, unraveling the problem may require a little translation. Customers can’t always explain exactly how the product or service is failing them; it then falls to the company’s CSRs to investigate and diligently address each complaint.
  • How? Figuring out how to solve the problem and knowing when they need advice and support from others helps CSRs provide efficient customer service.

However, great customer service transcends mere problem solving. Truly innovative companies have their staff reach out to customers with product upgrades, free training and “check-in” calls to offer guidance, support and — this is a key differentiator — the human element so vital in our wired world.

To be able to offer good customer service, companies must have good employee service policies. A positive and upbeat work culture contributes to employee satisfaction. Employees who feel valued take pride in their work and go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction. Disgruntled workers, on the other hand, may end up offering poor service to irate customers.

By treating staff well, managers can ensure their CSRs are making every effort even when the boss isn’t watching. Forbes writer, Micah Solomon, describes this approach as essential and says companies must “serve the people who serve the customers.”

Companies that invest in employee well-being reap the bottom-line rewards of the excellent customer service their happy employees provide. Of course, ensuring CSRs have the latest information on products and services as well as knowledge of policies and procedures is key to customer education and satisfaction.

No company can attain financial success without investing in staff morale, providing training opportunities and making customer service a focus. After all, without its customers, a business is nothing.

Learn more about the TAMU-CC online MBA program.


Sources:

Forbes: 10 Reasons Organizations Fail to Deliver Great Customer Service

Forbes: Five-Star Customer Service Depends on Treating Employees Well, Say Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons


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