Our ultimate guide to customer service will cover a lot of ground, from customer service strategy to tools, from tips and metrics.
As we start this guide, let us ask. Do you know the difference between service and support? Did you even realize there were differences?
In this article, we will briefly explain each function and then dive in.
What is customer support?
Customer support is tactical, focused on helping customers answer questions and troubleshoot issues they are having.
What is customer service?
Customer service is more strategic than customer support. While the role can involve solving customer problems, the position takes a broader approach to meeting the customer’s needs.
Customer Service vs. Customer Support
Now that you understand customer support and customer services let’s provide a brief example. A customer is working to bulk upload a CSV file containing user accounts and receives an error.
Customer support teams will attempt to identify the cause of the issue, point out a workaround if one is discovered, and escalate the bug.
Customer service teams are focused on solving the customer’s need, not the issue they are running into in the process. A customer service team will find a way to get the user accounts loaded even if they have to do it by hand. They will, like support, escalate the issue, but their priority is making the customer successful, then dealing with the problem identified.
Ultimately, both roles are focused on helping customers succeed and, as a result, increasing client loyalty and ensuring better customer retention rates (i.e., lower customer churn).
What do we mean by customer loyalty?
For this conversation, customer loyalty is equivalent to the customer either renewing in SaaS or repurchasing in other types of sales.
Common Customer Service Strategies
As with most things, there are many great customer service strategies that you can choose from.
And your strategy is critical for delivering excellent customer service, or at least good customer service that is in line with what your customers expect.
Let’s explore a few strategies.
In this model, customer service reps are available to help via multiple channels, often including phone support, email, live chat, and social media.
This provides a great deal of flexibility to customers but increases costs to the business to train, support, and leverage each channel appropriately.
This model goes in the opposite direction, essentially removing service reps from the direct conversations and having customers support themselves.
Often, this self-service model is delivered via customer communities/forums, a knowledgebase, training videos, etc…
Personalized customer service
This strategy involves tailoring the experience to the individual customer.
You can do this through customizing communications, channels, service level agreements, and similar options.
In many cases, companies offer a tiered approach. Customers move from self-service at low pricing levels to hands-on, personalized techniques as they pay more.
These are just a few of the most common strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so you’ll need to find the best plan for your business.
Why service matters
Excellent customer service leads to an increase in client loyalty.
But does customer loyalty even matter?
The answer is a resounding yes!
In fact, according to Bain & Company, an increase in customer loyalty can lead to a tremendous increase in customer lifetime value.
Side note: Customer lifetime value is the projected revenue that a customer will generate during their relationship with a company.
And that’s not all – happy customers also tend to spend more. (PWC)
That all equates to business revenue.
Customer Service Tips
Do you want your representatives to deliver excellent customer service?
Here are a few tips to consider for customer service success.
- Be responsive – Set an SLA (service level agreement) and beat it. Your customers count on you — that’s why they put their trust and money into your products.
- Give them options — Make it easy for them to find solutions and connect with you on whatever channels are available.
- Decentralize decision-making and authority – Give your customer service employees the power to resolve common challenges and make things right (within agreed-upon guidelines).
Okay, we have mentioned customer experience — what is it?
Customer experience defined.
The customer experience (CX) is customers’ perception of your brand based on their interactions with you. Every touchpoint adds to or detracts from the overall customer experience.
Tips for dealing with unhappy customers
Review our detailed guide for customer escalations. In the meantime, review these tips for dealing with a frustrated customer.
- Listen to understand. Let them complain and seek to understand the root cause of what has happened.
- Empathize with them. Take time to truly understand the impact of the situation from their perspective.
- Say you are sorry. Just say it, mean it, and try to fix it. Even if it wasn’t your fault.
Hiring A Great Customer Service Representative
When you are hiring a customer service representative for your customer service team, here are a few qualities and critical customer service skills to look for:
- Prior customer service experience in a similar industry.
- The ability to stay calm under pressure
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Problem solving skills
Customer Service Tools
Various customer service tools can help you deliver great customer service.
We won’t dive into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems here; you can learn more about them in our CRM selection guide.
How do you know customer service is working?
Poor customer service can destroy your revenue engine.
How do you know your efforts are working?
Here are a few key indicators that you can use to measure the success of your customer service.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores
This is usually measured on a scale of 0-100, with higher scores indicating greater satisfaction.
Customer effort scores (CES)
How much effort did the customer have to put into resolving the issue?
CES is also measured on a scale of 0-100, with lower scores indicating less effort required.
There are a million other options listed in our business metrics guide; others are coming soon.
Hopefully, we have left you with a better understanding of why good customer service is so important to business success.
The bottom line — if you want to increase market share, make more money, and improve your brand reputation, invest in this vital team.
Let us know if you have questions and how we can improve upon this article.